Conveyors eliminate marshmallow goo – Doumak Inc
Freshness is a challenge to marshmallow manufacturers, and keeping the product moving in the plant can be sticky business. Doumak Inc. solved its product flow problems by investing in a system of vibratory conveyors installed floor to ceiling in an innovative interconnecting pattern.
Founded in 1921 by the Doumakes family, Doumak Inc. of Elk Grove Village, Ill., is one of only three marshmallow manufacturers remaining in the U.S. today. While industry consolidation forces processors to compete more aggressively for market share, Doumak remains competitive through significant productivity-enhancing improvements to its operation.
Marshmallows tear and smear easily, creating a “goo” that sticks to the equipment and other marshmallows. Product quality suffers. The canvas belt conveyors that were replaced were not only difficult to clean but the contact of moving parts with the product actually caused more marshmallow goo.
Product is most fragile and difficult to handle when it’s freshest – immediately after its manufacture. Without moving parts coming into contact with the marshmallows, product integrity is maintained.
Doumak found that answer in 17 Iso-Flo[R] vibratory conveyors from Key Technology.
“The system contributes to increasing yield and improving cleanliness and maintenance,” notes Barry Blum, vice president of manufacturing at Doumak. “Our productivity has increased by as much as 8% directly as a result of these conveyors.”
ELIMINATING THE GOO
Doumak moves marshmallows from the processing line to final packaging stage in less than an hour, challenging the product handling equipment.
Product flows from two processing lines along a series of vibratory conveyors where gates divide the product stream to the infeed of five vertical form-fill-seal machines.
While eliminating marshmallow goo from the product stream was one quality objective, the cloth belts presented other problems. “Running mini- and regular-sized marshmallow products three shifts a day, five days a week puts a lot of wear on equipment. We used to worry about frayed belts and dirty product,” says Blum. “That’s no longer a problem. The stainless steel equipment is easy to clean with high-pressure washdown.”
NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
As Doumak searched for quality and productivity improvements, restricted floor space limited the company’s options. Innovation was essential. Key’s Iso-Flo conveyors offer installation flexibility, which allows Doumak to take advantage of its vertical space.
“We’ve stacked vibratory units from the floor to the ceiling,” Blum explains. “We have conveyors mounted with cantilever frames, Z frames, and above bed frames, as well as suspended from the ceiling.” Doumak now produces 50 million pounds of marshmallows a year in only 40,000 square feet of floor space.
The vibrating conveyors accommodate this installation flexibility because external vibratory forces are minimized and massive structural supports are eliminated. The same features that isolate vibratory forces from the support structure also lead to quiet operation and reduced energy consumption.
“Like all processors, we’re concerned about product quality, productivity, and cost reduction,” notes Blum. “As an environmentally conscientious processor, reducing energy use and improving the working environment are also concerns. Key’s Iso-Flo vibratory conveyors help us achieve our goals.”
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