Yet at its Banbury Oxfordshire England plant the company was experiencing downtime on one of its busiest lines that produces chocolates at a rate of 1.5 metric tons per hour.
“Chocolates convey directly on a woven cloth belt that’s covered with a food-grade polymer” says company project manager Barry Humphries. “We had a metal detector and conveyor made with a poor design. The belts used to get quite dirty in part because the conveyor was on an incline. As chocolates went up the belt they would sometimes roll backwards. The friction would cause chocolate to melt and it would start to bind on the belt get on the rollers and create a mess.” About once a week two employees would remove the belt and replace it with a spare while the first belt was cleaned.
Nearly all of that downtime has been alleviated. After contacting several equipment suppliers Barry Callebaut found its solution: a MET 30+ metal detector and System 2000 conveyor from Lock Inspection Systems.
“Now we only need to clean it once every three months. We’ve got a quick-release mechanism on the conveyor that allows us to take the belts off in about 10 minutes” he tells PW. “We still use the same type of belt but now it takes only 20 minutes to remove and replace the 4½-meter [14¾’] long belting.”
Humphries says the company hasn’t analyzed labor savings but estimates the new metal detector and conveyor save the company about nine hours a week of downtime and labor savings.
“Although our main objective was to reduce costly downtime on an extremely busy line we were also looking for a reliable and sensitive metal detector” says Humphries. “We chose Lock because they satisfied both requirements. The equipment has more than paid for itself in record levels of uptime.” —JB