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Motion control solutions for food waste processing applications

The waste and recycling sector plays a critical role in managing and reducing the amount of waste produced by society, as well as in conserving natural resources and reducing the environmental impact of human activities. It encompasses collection, transport, processing, recycling and disposal of waste materials from households, businesses and industrial facilities.

Food waste management

Food waste management refers to the process of reducing, recovering, and recycling food waste. A combination of approaches are employed, ranging from reducing overproduction and improving inventory management, to donation and redistribution of surplus food that is still safe for human consumption. Food waste that cannot be donated can be processed through composting, anaerobic digestion or other means to create nutrient-rich soil enhancers, biofuels, animal feeds or other products.

Types of food waste management processing equipment

To process food waste in commercial and industrial settings such as restaurants, factories and supermarkets a number of different types of equipment are used. These include:

1.  Augers to move and transfer waste through a system using a screw conveyor, breaking down food waste into smaller particles.

2. Macerators to cut and grind food waste, using a series of rotating blades or impellers to turn it into a fine slurry.

3. Separators to separate food waste from other types of waste such as plastic and paper packaging.

The role of motion control in food waste management applications

These types of equipment require motors and gearboxes to function effectively, and motion control plays an important role in controlling a number of variables including speed, force and position. Controlling the speed of motors and other moving components maximises throughput, reduces wear and tear and decreases energy consumption, whereas force control is vital to minimise damage to the equipment. In a commercial or industrial setting, the components specified need to be powerful and reliable to handle the processing of large amounts of food waste.

The motors in augurs, macerators and separators are designed to operate at high speeds and with the necessary power rating, torque and rotational speed to drive the grinding or shredding components. Considerations such as efficiency, durability and ease of maintenance are key. High-efficiency motors help reduce energy consumption and operating costs, while durable motors with low-maintenance requirements minimise downtime and repair costs. Additionally, motors with built-in safety features, such as overload protection and automatic shut-off, can help prevent damage to the machine and ensure safe operation. Overall, the type of motor used will depend on the specific requirements of the application including the processing volume, speed, and control needed.

A gearbox is a key element in the equipment, responsible for transferring power from the motor to the cutting or crushing mechanism of the equipment, allowing it to rotate at high speed under heavy loads and high torque. Different types of gearboxes may be used depending on the specific requirements of the application with a high-torque planetary gearbox, for example, often used in large industrial food waste processors. Whatever the characteristics of the gearbox specified, it must be able to withstand exposure to food waste, water, and cleaning chemicals, while maintaining the required level of performance.

In addition, electric actuators are increasingly being used to improve efficiency in waste management operations without the expense and complexity of hydraulic systems. In cardboard waste compacting or baling, for example, they offer a low-cost, high-force unit, while in applications such as fast food restaurant bins, electric actuators increase the efficiency of waste collection and disposal by compressing it as it is added, with the additional benefit of  reducing odour and pest problems.

Motion control components and solutions from Heason

Take a look at the selection of motors and gearboxes on our website. If you would like to find out more information about individual components or complete motion control solutions, please contact us on +44 (0) 1403 792300 or email sales@heason.com



Article published on: 04/04/2023

Article last updated on: 04/04/2023