The UK agri-food industry is an economic behemoth. Every year, the British spend over £250 billion on food and beverages. The sector - split between agriculture, manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and catering - employs more than four million people, representing about 13% of the country's workforce. Many professionals and machines support this gigantic industry.

Among these pieces of equipment, one stands out for operating behind the scenes, away from the eyes of the general public: conveyors for the food industry. Find out how conveyors streamline the food chain, transporting infinite goods from farms to customers.


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stages of the food supply chain

The food supply chain sustains the global food demand and significantly impacts economies, employment, and environmental sustainability. This is how it works.

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This is the first stage, where food begins its journey. Production includes farming, fishing, and aquaculture. It involves a range of practices, from traditional farming to modern, high-tech operations aimed at producing food efficiently and sustainably. In this stage, where raw ingredients are transformed, food industry conveyor systems genuinely shine.

At the very beginning, conveyors are used to transport raw materials, such as grains, vegetables, meats, and dairy. This includes sorting, washing, and preliminary processing.

For instance, in an apple packing facility, conveyors might move the fruit from delivery trucks to washing stations and then to sorting areas, where it is graded by size and quality, all without the need for manual handling, thereby maintaining hygiene and reducing labour costs.

In meat and poultry processing plants, conveyor systems transport carcasses through different processing stages, from slaughtering to deboning, cutting, and packaging. Specialised conveyors equipped with cooling technology ensure that meat products are kept at safe temperatures throughout the process, minimising the risk of contamination.

Beverage production, where bottles and cans are filled, capped, labelled, and prepared for distribution at high speeds, also benefits from using conveyors. These devices must be precise to ensure products are handled gently to avoid spills and breakages.

In bakeries, conveyor systems are integral to the mass production of bread, pastries, and other baked goods. The dough is moved through mixers, proofers, and ovens on conveyors carefully timed to maintain the quality and consistency of the final product. Their ability to operate at predetermined speeds ensures that baking times are optimised, contributing to uniformity in texture and taste across large batches.

Furthermore, technological advances have led to the development of systems that can adjust their operations based on real-time production data. Smart conveyors, equipped with sensors and connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), can monitor the flow of materials and adjust speeds or routes on the fly, enhancing efficiency and reducing waste.

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Processing and packaging

Processing and packaging play critical roles in enhancing the value, longevity, and consumer appeal of food products. During these stages, conveyor systems as the backbone of operations.

These pieces of equipment are instrumental in ensuring that produce is efficiently cleaned, sorted, and readied for processing. The scope of processing can vary significantly – from basic procedures like washing and straightforward packaging to more intricate processes that fundamentally alter the food item, such as converting wheat into flour or milk into an array of dairy products.

The packaging phase underscores the value of conveyors even further. Not only does packaging serve as a protective cocoon during transport and storage, but it also offers crucial information to consumers.

Consider, for example, the journey of potatoes in a French fry processing plant. Here, food service conveyor belts transport the potatoes through washing, cutting, and frying. Post-frying, an inclined conveyor system takes over, lifting the fries for seasoning and salting, showcasing the dynamic role of conveyors in ensuring efficiency and continuity in food processing and packaging operations.

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After processing, the food must be efficiently distributed to retailers and restaurants. This stage involves a network of warehouses, distribution centres, and transportation systems like   trucks and ships. Automated conveyor systems, equipped with advanced  and sorting technology, can quickly and accurately sort products based on destination, size, weight, or other criteria.

In terms of transportation, conveyors facilitate the loading of food products onto trucks, ships, and planes. Dock leveller conveyors, for instance, bridge the gap between the warehouse floor and the transport vehicle.

Modern conveyors can integrate with warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS), providing real-time data on products' whereabouts throughout the supply chain.

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Retail and wholesale

The retail and wholesale sectors serve as crucial links between producers and end consumers. Retailers, ranging from large supermarkets to smaller grocery stores, rely on conveyors to manage the vast quantities of food items they receive, store, and sell. It makes sense. These pieces of equipment help in efficiently stocking shelves by moving products from backroom storage to the appropriate aisles, reducing manual labour and ensuring that shelves are replenished quickly.

On the other hand, wholesalers operate on a larger scale, distributing food products to various retail outlets, restaurants, and other food service establishments. Products arriving from manufacturers are often transported via conveyors to different sections of the warehouse, where they are sorted according to type, destination, or order.

Both retail and wholesale sectors benefit from advanced features such as integrated scanning and weighing technologies. These capabilities allow for the automatic identification and tracking of products as they move through the supply chain. By scanning barcodes or RFID tags, conveyor systems can ensure that the right products are sent to the correct locations.

In environments where temperature control is vital, such as in the storage and transportation of fresh produce, dairy, and frozen foods, specialised conveyors equipped with cooling systems can help maintain the optimal temperature throughout the handling process.

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Finally, food reaches supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores, and farmers markets. Here, consumers make their purchases, and the food journey culminates at our tables. Once again, conveyors are indispensable.

In food service establishments, they have transformed kitchen operations. Conveyor ovens, for example, are a staple in pizza restaurants, allowing for consistent cooking without needing constant attention from the kitchen staff. Similarly, sushi restaurants often feature conveyor belts that deliver food directly to patrons at their tables, providing a novel dining experience while optimising service efficiency. These systems enable restaurants to manage peak dining hours effectively, reducing wait times and improving customer satisfaction.

Behind the scenes, conveyors assist in dishwashing by transporting dirty dishes to cleaning areas and then moving clean dishes back to preparation or service areas. This automates a labour-intensive process, allowing staff to focus on providing better service to customers.

we will keep your food business rolling

The agri-food industry not only feeds the world but is also one of the pillars of the global economy. Faced with the growing challenges of sustaining efficient and yet economical production, optimising processes becomes essential. Tight profit margins and fierce competition demand innovative and reliable solutions.

Joloda Conveyor Services is here to be your partner on this journey, offering specialised conveyor services. Our team is ready to assist you at every step of the journey, whether through urgent repairs, preventive maintenance, or asset management. Our call centre operates 24/7, and we offer coverage throughout the UK. Additionally, we can help you identify the ideal conveyor for your needs, installing the system quickly so you can support the food industry in the shortest possible time.

Increase your efficiency and strengthen the agri-food industry, contact us now.

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