Improvement and Optimisation of vibrating tables used in agri-foodstuffs sector

A research team of the Public University of Navarre (Basque Country), under the supervision of professors Jesus Zurita Gabasa and Jesus Mª Pintor Borobia, from the department of Mechanical, Energetic and Materials Engineering, is working in a project to improve and optimise vibrating tables that are used in the agri-foodstuffs sector. The project is being done by the request of the company Tecnologia Alimentaria Urtasun from Navarre (Basque Country) , manufacturer of this kind of machinery.

The company Tecnologia Alimentaria Urtasun focuses its activity in the design, production, commissioning and control of the whole production lines for the food industry. That includes the production line of vibrating tables. These tables are the machinery used to transport fruits and vegetables. They are called vibrating tables, because they actually function by vibration, so that the product moves with small jumps through the table, so that it reduces the damage. That way, by operators located at both sides of the table or in a totally mechanised way, the damaged parts can be removed or the product can be selected or distributed.

The main problems of these tables are related to their vibrating character. These machines must vibrate, and the more they vibrate the better it is, because the product moves faster forward and they can transport higher amounts of load. However, that causes greater deformations, and as a consequence, there can be problems of rupture or fatigue due to the presence of oscillating loads. And that causes a damage, which is accumulated in the material.

Validated virtual model
The researchers have developed a theoretical model for the company Urtasun, based on the simulation for finite elements, which allows characterising the dynamic and structural behaviour of a model of a vibrating table to be used in the food industry.

This work has been carried out in the test bench for fatigues and vibrations of the University.

Actually, they are developing a knowledge tool that allows optimising the machine. In addition, they believe that it would be interesting to work on the introduction of new materials and new technologies, which would allow, among other objectives, automating maintenance tasks for this kind of machines. For example, providing the machine with devices that allow knowing their state by recording a series of parameters. In those cases, the company Urtasun, via modem, could know the operating state of their machines, regardless of where they are installed. And that is very important, if we consider that the 40 % of the turnover of this company derives from export.

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