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High-Quality Vacuum Pumps Keep CVP’s Chicken Processing Machines Winging

Keep CVP’s Chicken Processing Machines Winging


January 14, 2008
By Canadian Poultry

Topics

Frank Perdue, the late founder of poultry-industry giant Perdue Farms,
used to appear in a commercial in which he uttered his famous tagline,
“It takes a tough man to make a tender bird.”

17Frank Perdue, the late founder of poultry-industry giant Perdue Farms, used to appear in a commercial in which he uttered his famous tagline, “It takes a tough man to make a tender bird.” 

A slightly revised version of this phrase can certainly be applied to the machines that package these tender birds for shipments to supermarkets and grocery stores worldwide: “It takes a tough machine to package a tasty bird.”

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It might not roll off the tongue the way Mr. Perdue’s statement did, but its veracity can not be denied.

Machines used to process and package poultry products must be able to withstand a tremendous amount of wear and tear, not to mention abuse, in the industrial environment.  Not only are these machines expected to run virtually maintenance-free for weeks on end, they must be sturdy enough to endure the strain of rigorous industrial cleaning..  Based just outside of Chicago in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, CVP Systems, Inc. have risen to this challenge and the company has been at the forefront of developing modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) systems.  Using this technology, a vacuum is drawn, and once the desired vacuum level is attained, gas is blown into the package before it is sealed to extend product shelf life.

CVP’s systems fall under the Fresh Vac® label, and are used on a wide variety of food products including red meat, poultry, fish, produce and fruit, cheese, nuts, snack foods, and spices. CVP is a manufacturer of well-built, highly efficient MAP machines, which are available in tabletop, manual, and fully-automated versions. 

Some 80 to 90 per cent  of CVP’s business is food-related, with the company’s work in the poultry industry especially noteworthy.  CVP Systems developed the first practical dry pack poultry to replace iced chicken and implements the MAP process to extend shelf-life and eliminate contamination inside the packaging. 

To stand up to the harsh environment in which poultry is processed as well as to meet breakneck production schedules—CVP developed the A-200, the most popular snorkel-style modified atmosphere packaging machine in the world.

“It’s one of our most versatile machines,” said Joel Swidergal, CVP’s operations manager.  “You can basically process any item on the A-200.   Its

versatility is evidenced by the fact that the machine can handle from a 10-pound bag of chicken breast up to a 100-pound bag.”
While the A-200 can sustain severe poultry-processing conditions, one specific piece of the machine demands particular attention—the vacuum pump.  As much as 90 per cent of the poultry we eat is either injected with a marinade to help the product remain juicy, or water-chilled. Either way, the result is a very wet product when packaged. Along with the air, a rotary vane vacuum pump can inadvertently suck out the chicken fats, greases, waters and marinades upon which the chicken tenderness is so dependent.

Additionally, as the pump wears down over time and the tubes begin to degrade, oil can be drawn into the pump.  Either of these scenarios will cause the vacuum to clog and shut down, resulting in the need to replace or fix a clogged pump.  This extremely time-consuming process can translate to a significant loss of efficiency on the production line.

Even without clogging problems, rotary vane pumps require extensive maintenance and are highly susceptible to contamination.  It quickly became clear to CVP that the rotary vane pump was not the optimal partner to match the A-200’s durability, and that other options needed to be explored. 

For close to 10 years prior, the company had been using pumps from PIAB, a global leader in industrial vacuum technology with innovative solutions for a variety of end-user applications.  While CVP had been using PIAB pumps in many of its machines, none of the existing models provided sufficient power or flow for poultry packaging.  Then, a few years ago, Swidergal learned that PIAB had introduced the M-200, a newer, more powerful model that had the power and flow to rival electrical pumps. Now, CVP offers the new PIAB pump as an option that customers can purchase with the A-200. 

“The pump model that we specify on our machines is determined by the customer’s requirements,” explained Swidergal.  “We don’t specify all our machines with one style pump, but rather give the customer the option of three different styles.  However, the vast majority of the poultry processors we work with have been specifying the new PIAB vacuum pumps.”

Besides its performance, the PIAB model offers a  maintenance advantage.   It’s a simple design with no moving parts; consequently, if any repairs are required, they can generally be completed with ease.  Even if the entire pump has to be replaced, its relatively low price tag makes it a cost-effective move.  What’s more, the ruggedness of its construction allows it to withstand the harsh, chlorine-based washdowns that the A-200 has to undergo as often as every four hours. 

In addition, the water  and marinade that can so easily congest other pumps gets blown straight through the PIAB pump.  Even when it does occasionally get clogged, cleanup is relatively effortless.

“Actually, in some cases, cleanup is so easy that customers just let water run through the pump to clean itself out,” said Swidergal.  “Others might remove it to wash it with soapy water, but that’s about it.  Since it weighs just three pounds, it’s quite easy to move if necessary.” 

PIAB’s vacuum pumps are compressed air-driven vacuum pumps.  The unique construction makes maximum use of the compressed air, and therefore consumes less energy.  Large vacuum flows and high levels of vacuum are characteristic of these pumps.  When compressed air passes through the nozzles, air is pulled through with the stream of compressed air.  Suction is then created at the opening of each stage, resulting in a low pressure vacuum. 

PIAB vacuum pumps are of the multi-stage ejector variety a technology patented by PIAB in 1973.  This provides extra vacuum flow in combination with deep maximum vacuum levels while keeping energy consumption at a minimum.