Waste No More; How a Pet Food Manufacturer Saves Product and Labor with Chain-Veys

Case Study Visual 1

Pet Food Co. is a multi-billion dollar pet food producer located in the US. One of their products is a kibble pet food for dogs, which involves extruding kibble meal into perfectly sized bits. At the beginning of each batch, plant operators must run some calibration tests to get the right product shape. This results in misshaped pieces that cannot be packaged for quality control reasons. Even after calibrating the machines, periodic misshaped pieces come out of the extrusion machine which must be caught by light sorters before they’re packaged. Because production managers do not want to waste any product, they return all misshaped pieces back with the kibble meal to go through the extrusion process again.

The old way of moving this misshaped product back to the extruder was challenging though.

Pet Food Co.’s Needs

Prior to Chain-Vey engineers stepping in, Pet Food Co.’s workflow was to collect the misshaped pieces into mobile totes. Workers then wheeled over the totes to a bucket elevator, which then fed into a screw auger conveyor for reentry into the kibble meal mixer. The entire process overall is labor inefficient and required cleaning of two separate conveyor systems and mobile totes. Plant operators wanted a turnkey conveyance solution that would be low-maintenance, easy to clean, and reliable.

MPE’s Solution

Chain-Vey engineers designed a system comprising:

  • (4) 3″ systems to replace the totes, freeing up labor and reducing production times
  • (1) 3″ system to replace a bucket elevator and screw auger which previously fed surge bins atop of a kibble meal regrind process

The Result

Pet Food Co.’s five Chain-Vey systems have delivered on great expectations. In the words of one plant manager, “the Chain-Veys are running so well and we haven’t experienced any issues 6 months in.” Plant operators are saving on labor not having to worry about moving large totes around the system. Chain-Veys are also easy to keep clean and this saves the headache of having to disassembly of screw auger conveyors for cleaning.

Talk to a Chain-Vey engineer to learn more about how Chain-Vey compares to other conveyance systems.

Chain-Vey’s rotating discharge tube

Tubular drag conveyor discharge tube
Front view of the rotating discharge tube

Chain-Vey’s rotating discharge tube is designed around the needs of our customers. The unit can open and close while the conveyor is running—no stopping and starting required. It won’t break any product either as its rotating tube gently glides around the chain and pucks that pass through. For potentially sticky applications, a compressed air nozzle inside the unit sprays the chain and pucks to ensure complete product removal.

MPE’s Rotating Discharge Tube is Clean-In-Place-ready for all system types; from hybrid to full-CIP. Models range for all Chain-Vey diameters from 3″ to 6″.

Talk to a sales engineer about our Chain-Vey conveyor systems today.

Caribou Jumps to Chain-Vey

Caribou press release 520px by 275pxCaribou Coffee, the well known Minnesota-based coffee chain, installed cable tube conveyors in their roastery several years ago. Their first cable system transported green coffee from an unloading point to their classification equipment. The cable conveyor manufacturer had promised longevity. However roastery managers became largely dissatisfied upon experiencing a much higher cost of ownership and maintenance than promised over time.

Caribou’s Needs

Green coffee is typically abrasive and for this reason wears conveyors more quickly than other applications. Roastery managers were replacing cable and pucks on a 18 to 24 month basis due to cable stretching. Cable fraying also meant having to splice sections of cable periodically. Plus, if the cable broke in the middle of production, managers did not want to splice cable with orders unfulfilled. They wanted to try a Chain-Vey system and see if it truly meant less maintenance and greater reliability.

MPE’s Solution

MPE engineers offered a cost effective Cable-to-Chain-Vey retrofit for their green coffee cable conveyor. It would capture nearly all of the benefits of Chain-Vey without needing to replace the entire conveyor. It could also be done in half the time it takes to install a new conveyor.

Cable to Chain-Vey Retrofit at Caribou Coffee Roastery
Caribou’s newly retrofitted green coffee Chain-Vey conveyor


The retrofit installation was a breeze and completed in half a day. Roastery managers were impressed on the first production run by reduced noise coming from the conveyor. As time went on though, the most important benefit has been the peace of mind in the system’s reliability. The chain will never fray and never break.

“Never have to worry about it. It’s quieter than the cable system. Pretty much a set it and go piece of equipment.”

-Adam Sislo, Engineering Supervisor, Caribou Coffee

Let a Chain-Vey Engineer work with you on capturing greater reliability and longevity through a Cable-to-Chain-Vey Retrofit.

Clean-In-Place System; Flexible, Customizable, and Stress-free


Chain-Vey’s Clean-In-Place System is a flexible solution for stress-free, automated cleaning of your Chain-Vey. The system begins with a Chain-Vey tubular conveyor built to water-tight specifications with CIP-integrated drive and turnaround boxes at each end of the system. The drive and turnaround boxes are where high pressure water or foaming agents are sprayed onto the chain and pucks and/or flood the system (depending on your selected cleaning cycle).

The cart is a detachable unit providing plant managers any selection/sequence of high pressure water, foam, or flooded-system cleanings. Then using warm, dry air pumped throughout the system, the cart can dry the entire Chain-Vey for quick resumption of operation. The cart can then be quickly detached and wheeled to other Chain-Veys for staggered cleanings as part of routine operations. Virtually all cleaning agents can be used and the cart needs only water and electrical (230/460 V or 380 V) sources.

With foam cleaning, a cleaning that might otherwise consume hundreds of gallons of heated water for a fully flooded cycle can be done with a fraction of water and energy—while meeting or exceeding all sanitation specifications.

Flavorings, allergens, sanitation-sensitive products, pharmaceutical, and high purity applications are well answered by the Chain-Vey’s robust CIP system.

Need uncompromising cleaning automation in a tubular drag conveyor? Give a Chain-Vey engineer a call to get a conversation started.

MPE’s Grinders & Chain-Vey Featured on Unwrapped 2.0

We are very happy when the work of our customer Green Mountain Coffee is featured on a TV show as fun and exciting as Unwrapped 2.0; but we’re especially proud when the work of our engineering, sales, and manufacturing teams is featured so prominently as well. And in case you were wondering, those are 5″ Chain-Veys (featured at 0:45 and 1:15) and IMD-999 grinders (at 2:25) inside Green Mountain’s roastery.

Give us a call if you think our grinders and Chain-Vey tubular drag conveyors might be able to do wonders for you too.

Ballast Point Tubular Conveyor Case Study

Ballast Point Brewing Company is a craft brewer in San Diego. The brewery has enjoyed increasing demand since its founding in 1996; an interview with CEO Jim Buechler on their rapid growth was recently published. The task of scaling production at the brewery however fell to Bill Sherwood, director of facilities, and Brandon Green, director of brewing, who together run operations.

Ballast Point’s Needs:

Their rapid expansion meant moving to new facilities on a short time frame and upgrading output bottlenecks where needed until finally the conveyance system needed upgrading.

Brandon Green Director of Brewing
Brandon Green, Director of Brewing

“The pace that we have expanded has been our biggest challenge. We didn’t even own this building two and a half years ago,” says Brandon.

Additionally, total output wasn’t the only thing increasing but the number of varieties being brewed as well. This meant Bill and Brandon needed a tubular conveyor nimble enough to adjust for different recipes quickly.

“It can be hard for brewers who need to switch between malts with other traditional conveyor systems,” says John Eiting, MPE’s Director of Chain-Vey Sales. “Moving from an imperial stout to a delicate Kölsch requires a system that can transport precise amounts of malt for recipes and not leave residual grains in the system.” The worst case scenario being costly off-batches which don’t meet quality control standards.

By design the Chain-Vey’s durable wiper discs ensure virtually every grain of malt and flower of hops leaves the intended discharge points without chaff or residue left behind.

Wiper disc for tube conveyor
Chain-Vey’s durable wiper disc (installed in line with Quiet Pucks) ensures precise amounts of ingredients are conveyed without loss as was imperative for Ballast Point.
Bill Sherwood Director of Facilities
Bill Sherwood, Director of Facilities

In addition to the cleanliness and reliability of the system, the Ballast Point project needed to meet exceptional engineering specifications.

“We used a tubular cable system for a while and we reached the limit of that,” says Bill Sherwood.

Chain-Vey’s Solution:

Chain-Vey engineers visited Ballast Point’s brewery to see the building up close and the existing facility layout. They designed and delivered a 4” Chain-Vey system running 360 ft in length and delivering 650 ft3/hr in conveyance capacity. The result was just as hoped for.

“All in all, we are really pleased,” says Brandon. “Chain-Vey has really allowed us to set it and forget it,” he added.

For smaller brewers, there is even a special 3″ diameter tubular drag conveyor called the Mega 3, which may be an ideal fit for smaller scale craft production.

Talk with a qualified sales engineer to learn more about our superior tube conveyor.

The Mega 3 Chain-Vey. Perfect for Malt & Hops

Chain-Vey Tubular Drag Conveyor for Hops Conveying in Beer Production

The Chain-Vey is inherently efficient and powerful by design, and as such, these properties make it well suited for large brewery operations. However, for a lot of craft brewers who rely on the cleanliness and precision of our tubular conveyor systems, even the smallest 4″ diameter tube conveyor can be overkill in terms of capacity. And for up-and-coming brewers with limited capital, affordability can never be too overstated a consideration.

At MPE we’ve never forgotten when we were a smaller company too.

For those who need something on a little smaller scale and budget, we’ve got something we think fits the bill (pun intended) perfectly. Introducing the littlest 3″ sibling of the Chain-Vey® family—the Mega 3—which packs a major punch with its ultra-strong chain and efficient design, but at about 25% less the cost. Its smaller 8,000 lbs/hr conveyance capacity is perfect for many craft brewers. And it uses 80% less energy than a comparable pneumatic system with unparalleled reliability, so the day-to-day cost of operating means your accountant will hardly know it’s running. Frankly, that’s how it should be; a great tubular conveyor system should work so well that it’s the smallest thing on anybody’s mind (or electricity bill).

Does the Mega 3 Chain-Vey fit in your budget and capacity needs? Give a sales engineer a call.

Stop Electron Theft. Go Oxygen-Free with MPE


Let’s talk oxygen. Oxygen’s penchant for stealing electrons gives it a sort of criminal reputation among chemists and MPE engineers. Coffee like any chemically organic matter is inherently delicate and an easy target for oxygen bandits which will chip away at your freshly roasted coffee’s delicate chemical beauty, leaving your coffee stale and with less aromatics. From the roaster to the grinding to the packaging, MPE can implement oxygen free conveyance systems, grinders, and degassing bins. This is achieved by pumping nitrogen, a relatively inert gas, into the system to prevent oxygen from stealing electrons from your coffee (oxidation). Additionally, this can be done in a cost effective way because Chain-Vey is already a significantly more efficient system by design than a comparable pneumatic tube system. An entire post-roaster oxygen free system will improve your coffee’s freshness and aroma making your customers happier. And happier customers lead to more business. Take our word for it.

Is oxygen running amok in your roasting and packaging operation? Let our sales engineers help stop it.

Chain-Vey® Motorized Chain & Puck Cleaner

rube-editcropped2The Chain-Vey Motorized Chain & Puck Cleaner is a non-Rube Goldberg designed, surprisingly simple, fully enclosed unit for superior chain and puck cleaning capabilities. The advantage of motorized cleaning is increased surface agitation—desirable in some sticky or oily particle applications. Inside the unit are two cylindrical brushes composed of durable food grade bristles. Each brush is powered by its own variable-speed, variable-direction motor. The brushes themselves can easily be taken out when processing materials or for cleaning with the easy-release levers on the side of the unit. A removable tray at the bottom makes periodic disposal of accumulated fines hassle free.

As always, give our sales engineers a call if your project demands the very best in tubular conveyance.