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Efficient waste removal solution

28 January 2018

Food Processing finds out how progressive cavity pumps can offer a hygienic waste removal solution. 

Progressive cavity pumps (PCPs) are used widely in the food processing sector. In 2012 sales within the European food and beverage market topped £75 million.

In production areas, PCPs are often used to handle delicate ingredients and components that are difficult to work with, due to high viscosity, the presence of soft solids or shear sensitivity. However, they can offer benefits in other areas too, delivering improved hygiene standards, better efficiency and increased automation.

One such application is for waste removal. Most food plants generate by-products, particularly if engaged in primary processing; for example, converting raw materials such as fruit, vegetables, meat or poultry into finished products. Processors need to remove these waste by-products from their production areas as efficiently and hygienically as possible, while incurring minimal costs and maximising any potential revenue. They must also ensure that they adhere to regulations such as the Animal By-Product Regulations (ABPR).

Traditional removal methods for solid waste include manual removal using tote bins; blown air systems and vacuum systems; and flumes that use water as a transport medium. Food processors often use a combination of these, depending on plant layout, previous experience and regulatory demands. However, they all incur high running costs in the form of manual labour, energy use or water treatment. PCPs can offer an alternative in the form of enclosed piped systems which remove solid waste without compromising hygiene standards.

Chopping and pumping
As well as having the ability to handle high viscosity products which do not flow, a progressive cavity pump designed by SEEPEX is able to chop and pump in the same unit. The BTM pump range can handle food waste containing up to 40% dry solids, without the need to add water. This open-hopper PCP features an auger feed into fixed and rotating knives that can chop most products, producing a lower volume of waste which is also easier to handle. Discarded products, defective raw materials, trimmings and rejects — including overrun — can be handled in a single system, enabling pre-treatment and source segregation of waste and by-products, even when they vary greatly in dry solids content and viscosity.

Whole cabbages, wet coleslaw, whole raw potatoes, mashed potatoes, whole chickens and chicken trimmings can all be handled within a single multi-purpose unit. The BTM pump can offer efficient and hygienic removal from both high-care and low-risk areas, providing a solution that delivers low cost removal while preserving the highest residual value of by-products – particularly if the resultant ‘soup’ is sent for anaerobic digestion, to be converted into biogas.

PCPs in action
SEEPEX has provided a series of bespoke pumping solutions to Natures Way Foods, a manufacturer of fresh convenient foods including ready-to-eat fruit products such as apple, mango and pineapple slices and mixed fruit packs. The preparation of the finished retail products from whole fruit generates peelings, cores and stone waste, all of which need to be removed from production areas.

The original systems used by Natures Way Foods were not able to handle the volume or variable nature of either the different fruit types or the process methods, some of which are automated while others rely on hand trimming. To combat this, SEEPEX installed PCP from its BTM range linked to the output of automated peelers. The pumps operate according to the peeler output via ultrasonic ‘smart’ level controls. The auger feed ensures optimal pump operation without the usual product ‘bridging’ (where product does not pass into the pumping elements) associated with horizontal grinders situated above pumps, which rely on gravity feed.

Trimmings, comprising hand peelings, woody vine, mango and nectarine stones and pits, are collected in tote bins before being tipped into a standalone system. The equipment comprises a large, customised reception hopper linked to a vertical grinder and PCP combination which grinds the waste and pumps it through enclosed pipework directly to the waste reception area. Finally, a PCP pump with a large reception hopper, bridge breaker and integral knives provides additional capacity for hand-peeled fruit waste and can also act as a back-up to the other systems.

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