With the global processed meat market expected to grow by nearly six percent annually over the next five years, demand for poultry will drive production and demand for processing equipment. There are several processes in these markets that require the use of positive displacement pumps for the transfer of solids. Maintaining product integrity is frequently a critical concern. SEEPEX Inc., a German designed pump manufacturer, offers a unique technology that is unlike many of the conventional handling methods currently used for meat processing. A vertically mounted open hopper progressive cavity pump with Smart Stator Technology (SST) will process boneless meats, chunked meats, ground meats, soups, stews, or chilis without damage to the product. SEEPEX progressive cavity pumps are built at the SEEPEX ISO 9001; 2008 certified plant in Enon, Ohio. Ninety-five percent of the VCHPCP components are fabricated, manufactured, or purchased from sources in the United States of America.
Other methods of handling meat and meat products include air driven diaphragm pumps or lobe pumps. These pumps’ downfalls when compared to a progressive cavity pump include high energy costs, higher maintenance costs, and higher percentages of product damage. Conveyor methods require the highest energy usage of all options. They are also the most unsanitary method of food handling due to their open-air design and intensive cleaning requirements. The vertical hopper progressive cavity pump offers the greatest efficiencies of all options.
In a progressive cavity pump, the single external helix rotor turns within a molded, double internal helix stator to form progressively moving cavities that create the pumping action. The pump’s output is directly proportional to its drive speed. The pump has conveying capacities up to572 USGPM and withstands pressures up to 60 PSI. Because of its customized stator ensuring an identical compression ratio along the entire length of the rotor/stator interface, less than one percent of the processed goods are damaged. The pump handles whole deboned meats without causing shear and maintains the integrity of the product. All wetted parts of the pump are FDA and 3A-Sanitary Standards compliant and constructed according to EHEDG regulations. The pumping elements are mounted vertically underneath the stainless steel hopper, utilizing floor space as part of its design.Additionally, the SST benefits the entire process and overall productivity of the facility by reducing assembly times by up to 80% compared to standard progressive cavity pumps. The division of the stator into two halves allows easier inspection, maintenance, and cleaning without needing to disassemble pipework.
A company specializing in developing customized proprietary culinary creations for various restaurants and food industry brands was assisting one of their clients, an organic produce and natural foods store, find the best way to process organic, hormone and antibiotic-free chicken without damage in their processing facility. On-site laboratories conduct systematic product testing to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly inspected and monitored during all critical control points in their process, from ingredient procurement and production to packaging and distribution. A team comprised of classically trained culinary and technical research and development professionals conducted the testing. The key to previous success with such testing includes their Operations and Quality teams working seamlessly to ensure safely handled, high quality food products.
SEEPEX offered to demonstrate free of charge their latest food industry innovation, a BCSO 70-6LS vertical cone hopper progressive cavity pump (VCHPCP) with Smart Stator Technology (SST). The trial run was set up through Statco Engineering and Fabricators Inc., a company recognized as one of the largest process equipment distributors and systems integrators for the sanitary processing market in North America. The chicken breasts prepped for the test were not marinated and slightly frosty. The pump passed the chicken, but macerated slightly.
The test team deduced that the cavity size of the pump needed to be increased to meet the demands of the product, prompting SEEPEX to offer their pump fabricated to the exact dimensions necessary and with a performance guarantee to eliminate shear. The promise worked, and the first VCHPCP was purchased in May, 2013. The new pump was customized specifically for the application with Viton (HC) elastomer, which would be detectable by an x-ray machine used for inspecting the meat for bone, metal, or other foreign fragments. The pump performed flawlessly during its maiden run, pumping kidney-plated chicken breasts through ten feet of three inch hose through an x-ray machine and to a three way diverter valve. Further testing was focused on the elastomer material being properly identified by the x-ray machine. A small sample of the elastomer was placed in the finger of a vinyl glove and inserted into the pipework prior to the x-ray machine. The x-ray detected the sample and diverted the product to the bypass.
The team also sampled the handling of different products in the pump in July, 2013. Sixteen ounce marinated chicken breasts were pumped with no apparent damage, making them easier to sort on the conveyor belt, reducing handling time. Beef strips were also pumped successfully. The company requested a duplicate VCHPCP from Statco to be used in another one of their processing locations. A third location of theirs is in communication about an additional application as well.