Continuous ovens are widely used in mass production of durable and consumer products around the world. Production lines for mass products must run without any form of interruptions, which is why this type of ovens is the most preferred. A conveyor belt makes it possible for the oven to produce a stream of items. The oven guarantees a streamlined heat treatment process in food service and production industries. Products that require heating along a conveyor belt are normally heated by an industrial oven. Conveyor belts are moved through an open oven when the machine is under operation.
Customization of ovens is very important because each customer has unique needs. The ovens are available in different sizes depending on the production needs of a particular customer. The oven’s maximum temperature is stabilized by a set of insulated steel walls which can be seen on some conveyor belts. A conveyor or continuous oven is a type of an industrial oven that has quite a number of important features but the most important ones include a cooling zone, multiple heat zones, and exhaust hood.
Ovens are of great use in industries because they minimize labor intensity that is normally associated with most productions. In addition, the ovens facilitate the automation of most production processes. Minimum technical supervision is required when ovens are in use, and this is made possible when processes that come before heat treatment are efficient. This type of oven is largely used as a drying oven in most production processes.
Continuous ovens are widely applied in the food service industry because it requires a lot of heat. It is possible to use the ovens when baking various food items such as sandwiches and pizza. The food that is being produced maintains its flavor and taste because of the oven’s moisture retention capabilities. Specific applications and uses of continuous ovens are defined by the characteristics of each type of oven.
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The Four Main Types of Conveyor Ovens
A quartz oven is normally used in baking products. A high-intensity light is normally used for the heating process. Manufacturers looking for a durable should consider this type of oven. The ovens have highly efficient elements that maximize production and minimize energy usage. It is possible to save energy usage because the oven has unlimited zone control options. It only takes a few seconds for a quartz oven to operate at full power. The infrared heaters on the oven guarantee consistent heating. Therefore, manufacturers looking for precise heating should go for this type of oven.
Forced Convection Ovens
The heated air is circulated by a fan that is present in this type of oven. Forced convection ovens are largely applied in production processes that require quick heat recovery and uniform distribution of temperature. In most instances, the ovens are recommended for processes that require uniform heat distribution. Some of the most notable features associated with this type of oven include an over temperature protection feature and adjustable intake and exhaust vents. The ovens have an operating temperature of between 200 and 300 degrees Celsius and are suitable for productions that require a lot of heat.
Natural Convection Ovens
Natural convection ovens transfer heat from the heat source to the product through the air. Natural convection ovens are applicable in a wide range of services such as baking, conditioning, sterilizing, curing, preheating, and aging. Mild air flow is required for certain drying applications, and the recommended ovens for such applications are the natural convection ovens. In addition, applications that do not have strict drying time frames and drying rates require this type of ovens.
The ovens have a risk of overheating because they come with a wide range of curing and baking options. It is therefore important to ensure that the features on this oven are given special attention in order to protect the machine from any form of damage. This category is common for most consumer ovens that are applicable in the production of food items.
Infrared ovens include ovens that transmit heat to the product directly using electromagnetic radiation. The infrared source makes it possible for the oven to generate heat. This category of ovens is normally available as industrial-sized machines or small kitchen appliances. Infrared ovens are normally used in coating and curing process during the production of various products.
They are widely applied in industries and other commercial applications. The reason why these ovens are the most preferred in industries is that they guarantee precision and speedy operations. The ovens are costly in terms of maintenance despite the fact that they are energy efficient. Individuals looking for a drying oven should also consider using this category of ovens because of guaranteed efficiency.
An industrial scale oven is recommended when it comes to the food service and production industry. Apart from production and food service industries, there is an extensive use of continuous ovens in manufacturing concepts. The heat treatment process is common in various production contexts that are unique to user needs. The most notable heat treatment processes in production include; annealing, drying, and melting processes. A large batch oven is normally used by companies when it comes to uniform and simultaneous application of heat on products in mass productions.
Continuous Oven Drawbacks
There are many contexts in which continuous ovens can be advantageous to users. However, it is important to point out that the machines have their own share of drawbacks just like any other types of machines. To begin with, continuous ovens are not enclosed and not suitable for processes that require a vacuum. Secondly, industries that are involved in small-scale operations cannot use continuous ovens.
In order to maintain their efficiency, the machines require a continuous input during production. A batch oven costs less compared to continuous ovens, and that is why the ovens cannot be used by certain industries. Therefore, the intended industrial application of the oven should be a major determining factor when deciding whether to use it or not.
What to Consider when Manufacturing Continuous Ovens
It is advisable to first consider how the desired application and the practical use of a particular oven before you can select a particular application. First consider the length of the heated tunnel by assessing the dwell time of the desired component, production rate, and dimensions. The production rate and the density of the load are normally used to determine the speed of the belt Secondly; one has to decide the loading pattern of their oven by determining the width needs. The three major loading patterns include four abreast, side by side, and single file line.
You can multiply the belt speed by the product dwell time to determine the length of the heat zone. In order to select the most suitable oven that can meet your unique production needs, it is advisable to work closely with the manufacturers. It is crucial to consider other features such as control style, dual belts, and belt width.
Continuous ovens are available in different measurements when it comes to cook chamber length and belt width. Most continuous ovens have a chamber length of between 20 inches and 28 inches. The most common measurements for the belt width of continuous ovens range between 9 inches and 26 inches.
Conveyor Belt Materials and Suitable Applications
There are multiple factors that are normally put into consideration by an oven manufacturer when it comes to designing continuous ovens. It is important to select the best belt material in order to come up with the most appropriate oven for the specified application. It is advisable to look beyond belt type and oven configuration when designing an oven. An oven’s purpose is determines the material for manufacturing belts for continuous ovens. The following are some of the notable materials that normally used to belts for continuous ovens including their specific applications.
High Carbon Steel
Most ovens have belts made from carbon steel because of its flatness, belt straightness, precision tracking, and durability. In addition, carbon steel belts have abrasion-resistant surfaces and are also easy-to-clean making them very hygienic. Most continuous ovens that are normally used in product transportation, drying, cooling, heating, food processing and baking have belts made from high carbon steel. The only disadvantage associated with high carbon steel belts is that it tends to discolor and rust easily as compared to stainless steel belts.
Stainless Steel & Stainless Alloys
Belts made from stainless steel or stainless alloys do not require regular cleaning like other metals because they do not corrode and rust. The fact that the material is resistant to corrosion and durable makes oven belts made from this material to be suitable for a wide range of application and industries. Some of the most notable applications for stainless steel belts include food, chemical, rubber, wood, lamination, and plastic production.
This may appear as an unusual choice when it comes to material for making belts for continuous ovens. The fact that rubber can melt easily makes the material unsuitable for application in industries. However, it is important to point out that the rubber can withstand high temperatures when it is treated properly. Food production is the most notable application for an oven belt made from rubber.
The plastic material works well for low-heat applications such as cooling chambers despite the fact that it may appear to be a surprise selection. Plastic requires less maintenance and is also considered to be a cost-effective material. Belts that are made from plastic are normally divided into separate sections that are later linked together. Further cost reduction is made possible by the fact that damaged modules can be replaced easily.
This material has a wide range of applications because it is a special type of thermoplastic polymer. The material is suitable for belts in continuous ovens because it has additional benefits. Apart from being flexible, sturdy, and lightweight, the material is also resistant to corrosion, chemicals, abrasion, mold, and water. Continuous oven belts made from polypropylene are known to be very versatile as a result of these many positive properties.
Fabric that is coated with Teflon can be used to create belts for ovens. The Teflon makes it become heat-resistant and non-stick. The belts are widely applied in drying and baking applications as a way of complying the with the FDA rules.
Woven PVC material can also be used to make solid conveyor oven belts. In order to make the belts fire-resistant, the belts are normally treated with chemicals. The PVC oven belts are suitable when it comes to processes such as baking and drying. It is important to point out that each material that is used in making belts for continuous ovens has its own advantages and disadvantages that must be put into consideration.
Custom building is a very important concept that should always be considered when it comes to the design and manufacturer of conveyor belts in order avoid the risk of having to replace the oven after a very short period of time. It is, therefore, important to let an oven manufacturer know your intended applications and production specifications.