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Industry, Food & Beverage

Trials Reveal Rotary Screw Technology is More Energy-Efficient and Cost-Effective for Meat Processing Industry

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Energy consumption for vacuum pumps is often overlooked, especially in the meat processing industry. On a typical day, plants start the pumps in the morning and turn them off at the end of the shift. The equipment runs continually throughout the day unless the pumps are consciously turned off during breaks. Until recently, this operation cycle has been the norm, but the switch to new equipment technology is on the rise. Two major meat processing plants in Queensland, Australia, decided to hold test trials that compared Atlas Copco’s rotary screw technology to the plant’s original rotary vane technology, based on energy efficiency and maintenance costs.

The first trial involved replacing a 22 kW rotary vane vacuum pump with a 15 kW rotary screw vacuum pump on the second stage of a meat processor’s vacuum packaging machine. Much to their surprise, the team found that the switch to rotary screw vacuum pumps yielded a significant reduction in maintenance costs and a 17 percent increase in energy savings.

Unlike rotary vane technology, rotary screw pumps have no surface contact or wearing parts in the compression chamber. The lack of constant contact means the rotary screw pumps don’t need to be replaced every 16,000 running hours as with rotary vane pumps. Overhauling these rotary vane pumps can cost an average of $12,000 to $20,000, leading to a complete pump replacement after three to four overhauls. These constant overhauls end up damaging the pumps and increasing energy consumption in the long run. 

The second trial proved to be even more impressive when two 22 kW rotary vane vacuum pumps were replaced with just one 37 kW rotary screw vacuum pump, and one for one 15 kW on the second stage. The Atlas Copco GHS VSD+ vacuum solution had a quick reaction time that helped achieve energy savings and reduced maintenance costs. The rotary vane pumps were running at 2 mbar, an already low vacuum point, but the rotary screw pumps can run near 0 mbar. With less air in the pack, the meat stays fresher for a longer period of time. The meat’s longer shelf life then benefits everyone from the meat processor to the supermarkets and consumers. 

Customers who switch to an Atlas Copco rotary screw vacuum pump can see a return on investment in as little as 1.3 years, depending on overhauls of existing pumps. Not to mention, using rotary screw pumps on one packaging machine alone can result in savings of over $170,000 during the course of five years.

Learn more about the benefits of switching to rotary screw vacuum pumps in the Food Technology Manufacturing magazine’s online article. For questions on how GHS VSD+ can help your food processing plant, leave us a comment below or reach out to an Atlas Copco expert here.

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