Paragon Quality Foods is one of the United Kingdom’s leading meat suppliers. Its Doncaster plant produces a variety of ground beef products—including hamburger patties and kebabs—for customers in the food service and fast food sectors. The spiral freezer is a critical application. During standard 12-hour shifts, the freezer’s expected output is 1.5 tons per hour. Any problems in this area can greatly hinder overall plant productivity.
Paragon’s previous freezer belt was a tension-driven, stainless steel belt that frequently flipped up or crashed. Failures could occur as often as three times per week, with each failure resulting in up to two hours of downtime. Maintenance personnel sprayed the spiral with large amounts of silicone grease up to four times per day. Though this lubrication process helped alleviate Paragon’s downtime issues, it was unreliable and far from ideal.
The Doncaster plant began to explore other spiral freezer conveyor belt options. They wanted a solution that would eliminate tensioning issues, mitigate downtime, and reduce the time, money, and effort spent on maintenance. Most of all, they wanted a solution they wouldn’t have to “babysit” (closely monitor and tend to). They chose the Intralox® DirectDrive™ System (DDS™).
The DDS relies on a patented operating system that engages the belt edge directly with the drum to generate zero slip and significantly reduce belt tension. By decreasing maintenance and cleaning expenses while maximizing production time, meat and poultry processing plants can improve performance while reducing total ownership costs.
Working closely with officials from Paragon and the Doncaster plant, Intralox’s Optimization Services Group (OSG) oversaw the spiral retrofit project from beginning to end. As unforeseen challenges arose, OSG consulted with Paragon to determine solutions and implement them. In March 2016, the two groups completed installation of a 26-tier DDS spiral freezer equipped with blue acetal Intralox Series 2900 Spiralox DirectDrive belting.
The tensionless, positively driven DDS solution has met or exceeded all of Paragon’s expectations. There have been zero crashes or flip-ups; the previous issues with downtime, maintenance, and lubrication (as well as the related expenses) have been eliminated. Paragon has realized annual savings of approximately $277,000 (£215,140). Project payback was achieved in less than five months.
The optimization of the spiral freezer has allowed Paragon to significantly enhance the Doncaster plant’s overall capacity and efficiency. Paragon officials have been pleased with not only the technology, but also with Intralox’s responsiveness and seamless communication. “The DirectDrive System is without a doubt a superior technology to metal belting,” said Kevin Harmer, Paragon Engineering Manager. “It has helped optimize our line efficiency, and we do not have to babysit our spiral anymore!”