To determine the proper conveying system, food producers need to ask an array of questions to get to the right answers. In many cases, it really boils down to “ask and you shall receive.”

For example, what are the product’s size, weight, shape and other characteristics? “They will give you the size of the conveyor and determine the pitch of the belt,” suggested Sara Alcalde, bakery team leader, Intralox, Harahan, LA.

Likewise, she added, consider the product’s composition. Are there abrasive agents like flour, sugar or seasonings? Is an easy release a must? Those factors will determine the materials of the belt and what has been the proven solution. “Is the layout of the conveyors the best layout possible, or can it be optimized?” she asked. “Are your components’ suppliers guaranteeing their products and [what] warranties will you have?”

Bill Schiltz, director of sales and marketing, Kofab, Algona, IA, suggested using due diligence with vendors to determine the perfect match. “[Buyers] need to ask themselves, ‘Are we buying from a reputable supplier?’ There are many out there that say they can do it but can't back up their claim,” he said. “Does the conveyor meet [the buyers’] performance criteria?”

Production versatility has become top of mind for many manufacturers. “Will the conveyor be able to handle an array of product types and production demands?” inquired Anthony Salsone, sales engineer, G&F Systems, Roosevelt, NY. “Is the conveyor designed to be as efficient as possible from an energy consumption perspective and also as effective as possible from a safety standpoint?”

Decreasing downtime also provides a license to print money. “Are parts for the conveyor stocked or readily available?” asked Scott Swaltek, vice-president of engineering, Capway Automation, York, PA. “No one likes their production line to go down, but in an emergency situation, it’s good to know the manufacturer has the part you need on the shelf ready for immediate shipment or can manufacture the part for expedited delivery. Ask manufacturers to provide a spare parts list with lead times to verify they can meet their claims.”