Taylor Farms, a California-based producer of salad kits and other fresh-cut, packaged vegetable products, has long been an industry leader in food safety and quality standards.
Part of its food safety efforts requires sanitizing conveyors and conveyor drives. But with so many nooks and crannies for food and other materials to fall into, cleaning had been a time- and labor-intensive task.
Coastal Manufacturing Inc., which provides Taylor Farms and other fresh-cut processors with conveyors and other specialized equipment, offered a possible solution by switching to Van der Graaf drum motors in its conveyors. Up until 2011, Coastal Manufacturing had used traditional motor and gearbox drives and experienced a first-year failure rate of 3 to 5 percent. After switching to Van der Graaf, that failure rate dropped to about 1 percent, and Coastal has had years with zero failures.
Taylor Farms was trying out different motors to find a better solution for cleaning and reliability, because in an operation at the scale of Taylor Farms, there are a lot of conveyors in any given facility. If they’re requiring constant downtime for cleaning and maintenance, the costs can quickly add up to an unsustainable number.
Van der Graaf’s drum motors turned out to be what the company was looking for, says Jorge Sanchez, setup manager of Taylor Farms’ Salinas, CA facility.
“We were trying different brands, but we noticed how reliable the drum motors were,” says Sanchez. “That’s why we decided to go with those.”
Since making the decision to switch to Van der Graaf, the Salinas facility has installed more than 100 drum motors. According to Sanchez, about 75 percent of the facility’s motors are now from Van der Graaf, and that number continues to grow as new equipment is installed in the facility.
A Van der Graaf drum motor is a one-piece conveyor drive that has the motor, gear drive and all moving parts encased in a sealed drum. With no external parts, it can be washed down without worry, since it does not allow sanitizing cleaning fluids to penetrate the drum motor. The motor also eliminates the need for a chain guard and helps improve operator safety by not having external parts that can pinch or grab.
The Van der Graaf drum motors have offered Taylor Farms a number of benefits, says Sanchez. As previously mentioned, the company is constantly pushing for improved food safety standards both in-house and in the industry as a whole. The sealed drum motors, which have a stainless steel surface and no external gears, eliminate some of the breeding grounds for bacteria that can be found in motor and gearbox systems. They also cut the time required for cleaning by not having places in which food can get caught. In addition to that, the sealed motors eliminate the possibility of an employee getting clothing caught in the drive.
Also, because the entire motor assembly is contained within the drum, the Van der Graaf motors do not require maintenance, only an oil change after 50,000 hours of operation.
“The minor maintenance that we’re performing is basically the oil changes,” says Sanchez.
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