A machine-maker for the food industry recently contacted Belt Technologies, Inc. with a custom conveyor belt request. The machine-maker produces conveyor systems that transport and cook meat—primarily bacon—using a specialized induction heating method.
The Advantage of Thermally Conductive Stainless Steel Conveyor Belts
Induction heating requires less energy than other heating methods, which gives it the advantage of being more eco-friendly. It is an instantaneous cooking method, which means the oven heats and cools very rapidly. This allows food processing facilities to improve throughput time and reduce the amount of production downtime. However, induction’s quick heat exchange can be difficult for most conveyor belt materials to withstand.
Stainless steel metal belts have a high resistance to extreme changes in temperature, making them ideal for this type of application. For this project, we chose 177CH900 stainless steel as the belt material. This particular grade of steel is very compatible with the induction heating system, as it is able to withstand temperatures up to 425 degrees Celsius. It has a lower thermal expansion coefficient, which allows the belt to maintain its shape. Additionally, the iron content of the steel works as an induction coil, ensuring an even transfer of heat.
Custom-Designed Food Process Automation System Engineered for Success
The customer’s automated meat cooking system required belts that were exceedingly wide, measuring 838 millimeters, or roughly 33 inches. The belt also needed to be thin. Competing metal belt manufacturers had a minimum thickness of 1 mm with a corresponding pulley diameter of 800 mm. Belt Technologies, however, is able to produce metal conveyor belts between 0.3 and 0.5 mm with smaller pulleys, typically 188 mm to 312 mm. This allowed the machine to have a smaller footprint with a shorter, thinner belt to save on cost.
Food-Grade, FDA-Approved GATORCOAT® Brings Home the Bacon
For added durability, we applied GATORCOAT® to the outer diameter of the belt. GATORCOAT® has ten times the abrasion resistance of other PTFE coatings and is FDA-approved for use in the food processing industry. Although the size of the belt made applying the coating more difficult, our engineers were ready to meet the challenge.
The client now has durable, stainless steel metal conveyor belts for use in their induction heating system for meat processing. With metal conveyor belts from Belt Technologies, the final product will be perfectly cooked with just the right amount of crispy goodness.
Does your conveyor system present a challenge that other metal conveyor belt manufacturers simply can’t handle? The engineers at Belt Technologies are ready to accept the task. Call or request a quote today!