With 3,000 pies coming out of its ovens every hour, Table Talk can’t tolerate downtime due to problematic spiral conveyors in the ambient cooling and refrigerated systems, according to Jim Cutler, the company’s maintenance manager. But in Table Talk’s one ambient cooling spiral conveyor, the belting system was beginning to show its age. “We do a significant amount of holiday business, and key to our work is dependability,” says Cutler. “We have to make sure equipment is functioning, and I think spiral [conveyors] should be seen and not heard.
“We had significant problems with the belt,” continues Cutler. The belt, which was once part of a freezer, was pressed into an ambient cooling application when a more efficient freezer was installed on another line. “We felt that by getting the spiral conveyor out of the freezer, our problems would settle down. But once we got it to operate as an ambient cooler, we saw the belt still needed work.”
A lot of pressure was being put on the drive unit, so much that it was being overloaded, remembers Cutler. “We had constant—weekly, it seemed—belt breakages. We actually had part of our wear strips, or track caps, that were being pulled off the rail. With the wear on the belt, it would lean in one direction, then another, whereas it should have been level and square in the take-off section.”
Cutler knew Ashworth was a belting supplier, but he didn’t realize it offered many other services. After taking tension tests and performing various inspections on the spiral, Ashworth reps suggested replacing the old belt with an Ashworth Omni-Pro 100. In this application, the belt would be 26-in. wide and made of 304 stainless steel.
Within a three-week period, Ashworth made the belt and installed it over a weekend. “They got it done,” says Cutler. “No one else could do that. For us, having a continuous flow of pumpkin pies in September was important.” Ashworth started the project on a Friday night after production ended. “It went down Friday night, and we were back up and running Monday morning,” adds Cutler.
The Omni-Pro 100 belt design features a protrusion leg and heavy-duty links with 360° welds for increased carrying capacity. The belting is offered with a turn ratio of 1.7 up to 2.5 times the belt width and greater for oversize cages, making it easy to retrofit existing systems. The belt can turn left or right and is sprocket driven on links.
“All indications are that we have less maintenance on this belt than we had on the previous one,” says Cutler. “It seems to clean up better, and it’s showing a reduction in load on the drive system. Plus, it’s running at less amperage. On top of that, the overall tension on the belt is much less than before.”
Best of all, Cutler says the new belt is much quieter. “In my mind, when you hear noise, it means wear—metal rubbing against metal. Something’s not right.”