Before it is packaged, tea is handled in loose leaf or instant powdered form. Both forms come with challenges that must be overcome via conveyor system design to ensure a final product that is consistent in both flavor and quality. In this article, Spiroflow experts will discuss tea conveying challenges and review considerations for the mechanical conveyors most suitable for conveying tea.
Tea Conveying Challenges
- Degradation - Friable tea products are prone to degradation, which can cause undesired flavor variations. A conveyor featuring gentle handling will prevent and protect the product from bruising and breaking tea leaves. In addition to impacting flavor, excessive degradation resulting in too fine of a product can cause challenges with separation and blending.
- Dusting & Safety – Additionally, conveying tea can result in considerable amounts of fine combustible dust which, if not contained, is extremely dangerous – as static buildup from conveying tea leaves increases the risk of explosion. To minimize this risk, select an enclosed conveying system with dust containment features.
- Abrasion – Tea in leaf form is somewhat abrasive and can lead to higher rates of wear and tear, so selecting a conveyor that will stand up to the job and from a manufacturer that can quickly deliver spare parts will be important.
- Fast Turnaround During Flavor Changes – Lastly, manufacturers producing flavored teas, both in instant and leaves, may run multiple blends in a single day on the same equipment. Quick clean features of the conveyor to prevent residual flavor transfer between batches – while minimizing downtime – is key.
Flexible Screw Conveyors
Ideal for: Tea blends & flavored teas. A flexible screw conveyor is made up of one moving part – the spiral inside a tube. Because of this, the flexible screw conveyor is a very versatile and low cost conveyor. These conveyors are idea for conveying blends of tea or flavored teas.
- Fast cleaning and turnaround between flavored tea batches to prevent residual flavor transfer when running multiple blends in a day (via easy clean quick release flanges)
- Maintained batch integrity (via constant remixing of the blend via the screw conveyor’s helical motion)
Aero Mechanical Conveyors
Ideal for: Loose Leaf & instant. The aero mechanical conveyor creates an airstream which moves the product up the tubes along with high-speed discs and a rope. This conveyor is a great choice for conveying both instant tea and loose leaf tea. Adding to its benefits, the aero mechanical conveyor runs quietly and with minimal energy requirements.
- Total tea dust containment (via airtight operation)
- Reduced risk of explosion (caused by static build up of combustible tea dust)
- Gentle handling of friable tea leaves (air pockets in airstream support with gentle conveying)
Cable Drag Conveyors
Ideal for: Loose Leaf & instant, where layout versatility is a requirement. Similar to the aero mechanical conveyor, a cable drag conveyor operates using evenly spaced discs connected by a rope. However, it drags the products along the cable and disc assembly gently at reduced speeds rather than moving it quickly via very fast moving airstream, vacuum or air blasts. Additionally, cable drag conveyors offer conveying in multiple planes and with multiple inlets and outlets while also operating at reduced clearances – for maximum layout versatility.
- Best choice for minimal product degradation of tea leaves due to extremely gentle handling (no vacuums, fast moving air blasts, belts or buckets that can potentially cause damage)
- Total tea dust containment (via contamination free totally-enclosed system)
Professional test lab
Need help evaluating the best conveyor and bulk material handling system solution for your tea application? We can replicate your on site conditions in our professional test lab and, with our broad range of conveying equipment, help you determine the best conveyor for your tea product. Contact us today for a consultation with one of our engineers.