Increasingly, owners of dogs, cats and other animals are preferring dry over wet pet food as a feedstock. As buyer preferences continue to shift in favour of dry pet foods, the market for this form of pet food will only grow further. Producers serving this expanding market will require safe, reliable and effective means for conveying dry pet food within their operations to meet the increasing demand.
Producers of dry pet foods rely on conveyors to move input materials through their production processes, and to move finished product from processing to storage and packaging operations. In addition to ensuring reliable maintenance-free operations, key conveying challenges that dry pet food producers must address when conveying product includes the following:
Preventing product breakage and degradation
For many consumers of dry pet food, product quality and consistency is a key requirement. Dry pet food ingredients are blended and extruded or baked into particles consisting of a variety of shapes and sizes. To avoid particle breakage and degradation, conveying equipment should be capable of gently handling the product as it is moved through the production process.
Particle degradation and breakage increases production costs as degraded product must be separated from the product stream. This adds an additional processing step, consuming resources and driving costs. In addition, because most dry pet foods and animal feeds have particles that are coated with essential nutrients, particle degradation may compromise the nutritional value of the feed and result in deposits and fines which can affect conveyor performance.
Preventing product spillage and loss
Product spillage from conveyors results in throughput loss and drives costs by requiring cleanup and disposal. Spilled product may also become entrapped in equipment, posing a contamination risk as it decomposes. For these reasons, dry pet food producers should seek equipment solutions which prevent and eliminate the spillage of product as it is conveyed.
Cross-contamination can occur between ingredients and production batches. Cross-contamination concerns with mechanical conveying equipment can be resolved by effective cleaning of conveyors. Dry pet food producers who offer a variety of feeds to the marketplace will need to clean conveyors between production runs and batches to prevent cross-contamination. For these producers, having equipment which can be easily cleaned and quickly returned to service is a key requirement.
Conveying dry pet food: mechanical equipment solutions
Bucket elevators designed for high care applications, such as the TipTrak™ line of bucket elevators from UniTrak, are a preferred equipment solution for many dry pet food producers. Featuring industry-leading reliability, TipTrak™ units can move high volumes of dry pet food through the production process, and into storage and packaging lines, with little or no damage to the size, shape and nutritional quality of feed particles. The fully interlocking bucket assemblies of TipTrak™ elevators all but eliminate product spillage, while the fully enclosed or sealed constructions respectively of TipTrak™ PEC and Monocoque models successfully contain any product dusting.
UniFlex flexible screw conveyors work particularly well where dry pet food ingredients need to be conveyed for mixing, blending or further processing.
UniFlex conveyors feature a food-grade UHMW or steel casing/tube. Models are available that feature a sanitary washdown duty motor, tool-less disassembly and reassembly for quick cleaning, and a stainless steel control panel and enclosure. UniFlex conveyors come equipped with a square or conical shaped hopper and can be easily integrated with a large array of upstream and downstream equipment.
If you are a producer of dry pet or animal feeds, UniTrak has the equipment to keep your product moving safely, with no loss of throughput or quality. To find out more about we can help overcome the challenges of conveying dry pet food within your operations, please contact our sales team.