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Detergent free steam cleaning system for modular conveyor belts in the food industry

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Steammatic (Detergent free steam cleaning system for modular conveyor belts in the food industry)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2017-10-31

What is the problem/issue being addressed?
REA STEAMMATIC PROJECT is about the cleaning , during production and without any chemicals, of a particular type of conveyor belt used in the food industry – REA STEAM CLEANING objective is to take advantage of its experience in dry steam cleaning and sanitizing to develop a specific cleaning system for the modular belts widely used in the food industry- Due to their construction, modular belts are extremely difficult to clean and there are a source of numerous problems linked to insufficient disinfection - This issue is common for practically all the food industries of whatever product in the world – No efficient and cost effective solution has been found so far .
Finding a disruptive /innovative solution is extremely interesting for food industries -In any food industry, the importance of conveyor belt cleaning and sanitation is extreme. At the very least, inadequate cleaning can delay start up; in the worst cases, it can lead to costly shutdowns or product recalls (Annex I). Not surprisingly, then, the choice of the right cleaning method can dramatically affect productivity and costs. On average, 20% of a food plant’s days is spent on cleaning. With the right solution, food processors can prevent cleaning and sanitation problems; increase cleaning effectiveness; meet or exceed strict sanitation requirements; and reduce sanitation-related costs without sacrificing hygiene standards. Effective cleaning is also a key point of HACCP (Hazard-Analysis and Critical Control Points) protocol (Annex 0). Since its inception in the 1960s as part of space travel, the application of HACCP principles has expanded throughout the food industry. The Food Safety Modernization Act (December 2010) has lead to further adoption of the concept. Steam cleaning is compliant to all to all HACCP requirements
Why is it important for society?
REA STEAM CLEANING is already supplier of the food industry leading companies (just to cite a few Mondelez International, Nestle, Ferrero, Danone, etc..) – Export is 70 % of its business and the company product strategy is to develop new technologies that can address the global market -STEAMMATIC PROJECT is important for REA in terms of overall growth but also in terms of marketing and commercial strategy - REA is already recognized for its inline steam washing systems, both in the mechanical industry and in the food industry. Successfully developing and marketing a washing system for modular transport belts would confirm REA leadership in this area - Economically, the increase in turnover and margins in the event of success would be considerable and would impact sales to food industry in general , including our sales of mobile cleaning systems -

What are the overall objectives?
Overall objectives of the feasibility study can be grouped in three distinctive items : technical aspects/ market/profitability
Technical aspects:
• Finalize a working prototype that would be able to accommodate different width , speed and material of conveyors belts
• Optimize the parameters pertinent to cleaning result (number, position, size of the steam nozzles)
• Optimize the parameters pertinent to drying of the belt (shape of the suction chamber, size of vacuum turbine and piping)
• Optimize the size/dimension of the system so that it fits in any existing production line
• Evaluate the running costs (in €/ hour) of the different versions (amortization and energy cost)
• Compliance to the various safety rules/legislations
• Precisely define the range of belt cleaners : how many different versions of our system to cover the complete market requirements in terms of conveyors type / sizes / speed / type of contamination
• To address specifically (appropriate, on target communication) each family of food manufacturers (pastry, meat, dairies...)
• To partnership with the main manufacturers of conveyor belts ( Intralox, Habasit , Flexlink, Tetrapak)
• Efficient product promotion (demonstrations- local tests – working samples ...)
• Have a precise costing of the Bill of Material / cost of labour of the different versions
• Through market research make a more precise sales forecast (see sales forecast section 2.1.b)
• Better quantify some costs expressed in the P&L (section 2.1.b) namely the sales and marketing costs
1. Construction of a working prototype (months 1 /2)
2. Cleaning, sanitization and drying tests with this prototype ( months 2/3/4)
3. Evaluation of the running costs ( for customer using the system) ( months 4/5)
4. Cost evaluation for the different sizes / versions of STEAMMATIC system (months 5/6)
5. List of the main limits for the use of STEAMMATIC from customers point of view ( results and costs) ( month 6)
6. New marketing approach based on conclusions from points (month 6)

Overview of results :
• Cost of Steammatic is too high for customers that do not have their own steam source available ( unfortunately they are the majority of customers)
• Drying of the belt is not good enough after cleaning

Results, conclusion and further action

REA has decided to abandon the project has it was originally designed , mostly for technical reasons – Reason for this decisions are precisely described in the final report –
However, tests has clearly shown that all the basics of the technology used for STEAMMATIC van be employed on other kind of belts – So we have repositioned our product offer :

- Cleaning of smaller chain belts
- Cleaning of modular belts with width < 200 mm
- Cleaning of smooth (flat) belts , no width limit
Further action is to improve our technology on these 3 categories of product, taken profit of all the knowledge we have gained with STEAMMATIC Project –
We are reasonably convinced to reach a very high standard of performance , quality and competitiveness with the 3 new product proposal –

Some first results are already very encouraging :
- Company Nestle , through its Polish subsidiary Global Cereal Partners , has ordered 2 complete systems for 800 mm smooth belt cleaner – The first on has been delivered in July and the second will be delivered end of December 2017 – This belt cleaner is working 24h/day on a cereal bars production line with excellent results – Nestle was previously using a system based on water and brushes , with poor results and continuous production problems due to the lack of consistency in the cleaning operation – REA , thanks to all the R&D in the framework of STEAMMATIC project has provided the right solution at an market cost – We will know use this prestigious reference to sell more of these units
- Company Guerlain (well known perfume) has ordered 2 systems for cleaning chain belts that will be delivered in January 2018 ( cleaning of a belt used in the production of beauty cream)
- Very convincing tests are in process in various factories of L’Oreal group , for the cleaning of belts transporting shampoo and similar products
We expect to gain experience and drastically improve our product offer for the cleaning of belts in general, not only food industry but in all industries where some transport belts are present.
Our growth in terms of turnover could be at least 10% / year due to the sale of belt cleaning systems, which would permit the creation of 1 or 2 jobs / year.
Regarding environment, it is obvious that steam cleaning, chemicals free is positive.