AlaTrade Foods is a custom food processor that services large poultry processors requiring intensive amounts of labor in processes such as deboning. AlaTrade Foods takes in front-halves of chickens and debones / disassembles them based on customer specifications; breast meat, wings, tenders and dark meat are deboned for further processing and institutional use. AlaTrade debones approximately 1 million fronts a week, which calculates to about 2 million pounds per week.

What makes AlaTrade Foods unique is its quick response time. A customer can make any change at any point during the day and AlaTrade is able to process that change on first or second shift and possibly have it done as quickly as the following day. To achieve a quick response time at the highest level of sanitation standards and customer specifications, AlaTrade leverages process efficiencies, cutting-edge technologies and superior customer service to deliver better quality, better yield and better response times for customers.

AlaTrade has found a better way to reduce downtime, which means a complete reduction in maintenance costs, through the state-of-the-art Van der Graaf drum motor that drives their conveyors.

“AlaTrade has been doing business with Van der Graaf for about 12 years,” says Kevin W. Parnell, plant manager at AlaTrade Foods. “The company started working with Van der Graaf over a decade ago to solve internal failures on conventional conveyors that AlaTrade was having. Since that time, we have seen the potential for us to limit the amount of downtime we’ve had and also make a safer work environment. With AlaTrade Foods being a player in the poultry industry, food safety is — has to be — at the top of our priority list, and Van der Graaf plays a huge role in us being able to do that. From a management standpoint, [if] you have something that is not going to fail, [it] allows you to focus your attention on other things that improve your process instead of a motor or whether it’s going to go out.”

With chicken being one of the most popular meats on the market, the highest level of sanitation must be maintained. Industry requirements ensure all food processors meet or exceed hygiene standards.

Because it’s designed to address sanitation requirements, the overall construction and engineering behind the Van der Graaf drum motor is intrinsically hygienic.

“The great thing about the Van der Graaf motor is it will withstand 3,000 psi of water pressure, preventing the harboring of bacteria and other contaminants,” says Ray Hayes, quality control supervisor at AlaTrade Foods. “So we can now wash things quickly, apply our chemicals to kill our microbes and then we are back up and running again. In any manufacturing environment, downtime is money. Van der Graaf is the best in the industry as far as the concise fit that it has, the less room it takes up, so we’re able to install Van der Graaf and get back up and running — saves us time, saves us money.”

The design of the drum motor puts all the working components to power the conveyor inside the roller of the head pulley.  With the mechanical components housed in a constant oil bath, the ultimate environment is created, resulting in a maintenance interval of 50,000 hours between oil changes.

With nothing external and therefore nothing subject to the working environment, drum motors typically outlast conventional drives by a ratio of two to one. This translates to reduced downtime, which means a reduction in maintenance costs. NP


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