Poultry Processor Improves Production with New Conveyor Chain

A leading U.S. poultry processor has reduced downtime by replacing the conveyor belt on an accumulator with a new link-type chain that is operating far longer without breakage. The chain is easier to remove, so the company also saves time when sanitizing the chain, enhancing the plant’s efficiency and sanitation program.

In addition, the chain remains cleaner between cleanings because it incorporates an antimicrobial compound that inhibits bacterial growth that can cause stains, odors and degradation of the chain.

In the plant, the conveyor accumulates whole eviscerated and iced chickens beneath a large hopper and feeds them as needed to further processing operations. The conveyor is approximately 20 feet center-to-center. Because the accumulator chain continues to move beneath a load of chickens and ice that can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, it is susceptible to wear, breakage and staining. The previous chain broke frequently and had to be replaced several times a week, according to the plant’s maintenance manager.

When it was necessary to remove the belt for periodic sanitizing, workers had to cut the end off a plastic pin that held the sections together, then get a new pin and heat the end to weld it in place when replacing the belt. The operation was time-consuming and inefficient, and it required keeping a stock of replacement material for the pins.

In addition, the plastic belt material was subject to abrasion from the ice and discoloration caused by bacterial growth, which often made it necessary to replace the belt whether it was broken or not.

Longer Lasting & Easier to Replace

More than 90 days after replacing the previous belt with Rex® 2010 Series MatTop® Chain, the company found that the new chain already outlasted the belt by several times and showed no signs of failure. This represents a big savings, not only in replacement cost, but also in time saved by not having to empty the load of chickens and ice from the large hopper and conveyor every time a belt breaks.

One reason the chain lasts longer is the improved sprocket contact provided by the chain’s TruTrack™ sprocket guides. While the previous belt ”stretched” to the point where it would disengage from the sprockets, causing excess stress and breakage, the Rex chain and sprockets are designed to eliminate skipping.

A company spokesman notes that the new chain saves at least 40 to 50 minutes every time it is removed, sanitized in a chemical bath and replaced. The Rex chain features a patented TwistLock™ pin retention design that allows for quick assembly and disassembly. In addition, the pin material is solid and dense, so it resists breakage and can be reused. In between sanitation procedures, the chain’s open hinge design makes it easy to clean in place.

Protection of the Rex Chain

While the poultry processor’s previous belt material often had to be replaced because of abrasion and discoloration, the new chain material is infused with Microban® Product Protection, an anti-microbial agent that helps inhibit the growth of stain and odor-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. Because the Microban compound is uniformly distributed throughout the plastic chain material, abrasion will not remove or reduce its effectiveness. Proper cleaning procedures are still required, since Microban protection does not protect the user against food-borne bacteria.