Pumping Insights: blog

How to Solve Pumping Challenges in Meat and Poultry Processing

Posted by John Wawrowski on Nov 17, 2020 9:39:00 AM
John Wawrowski

Meat ProcessingMeat and poultry production requires tough and reliable pumps that can handle blood, organs, fat and waste from animals.

From pigs, cattle and sheep to chickens and turkeys, the processing steps are similar.

Meat Rendering Process Map

Every step of the process presents unique pumping challenges. Two of the most common challenges we hear from pump users are:

  • Pumps get plugged up with solids from all parts of the process
  • Plant water transfer systems and sumps get backed up

In this blog, you’ll learn what many meat and poultry processing companies are doing to solve common pumping problems.

Meat Processing Applications

Typical Blood Collection and Transfer

  • Harsh and messy
  • Solids find their way into the process and become trapped in pumps
  • Collection areas and passages need to flow without backing up to ensure cleanliness and safety
  • Abrasive properties of blood can wear through conventional pump walls and chambers
  • Shear forces cause frothing and damage downstream blood products

Scalding, De-Hairing and De-Feathering

  • Hair and feathers clump-up and are difficult to pass through conventional pumps
  • Hair and feathers fall onto the floor and into drains where they create backups
  • Pumping equipment must reliably handle everything from clean water to water containing solids

Evisceration (Removal of Internal Organs)

  • Harsh and messy
  • Parts are separated for later processing
  • Collection areas and passages need to flow without backing up to ensure cleanliness and safety
  • Transfer of casing waste, organs, feet, heads, beaks, etc. is challenging for typical pumps

Process Water

  • Solids of various sizes and shapes enter the water stream
  • Sumps, troughs and collection areas need to flow
  • Floor drain grating does not prevent solids from entering plant water drain systems
  • Submersible pumps are challenging to use and maintain

Washdown and Sanitation

  • Variety of chemicals, detergents and caustics used
  • Equipment materials need to be properly selected to ensure compatibility, safety and reliability
  • Risk of electrical shock


  • Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) systems and other treatment technologies create viscous and chunky sludge
  • Must be able to reliably pump water containing solids with air pockets
  • Must be able to pump viscous fluids at high capacity

Pumps Used in Meat and Poultry Processing

Pump Advantages and Disadvantages






  • High flow capacity
  • Compact compared to other motorized technologies
  • Special “trash” versions
    • Can handle solids
    • Are self-priming
    • Are available in up to 10” pipe size


  • Cannot run dry without mechanical seal damage
  • Intolerant to cavitation
  • Complicated installation and alignment
  • Requires electricity—potential for shorts and shocks
  • Performance degrades as parts wear out
  • Expensive to purchase and install
  • Imparts shear forces into the fluid
  • Deadheading imparts heat into fluid—damages seals
  • Rotating seals and packings can leak and are difficult to repair
  • Motor, base and other accessories required
  • VFD or throttling of discharge required

Progressive Cavity





  • Can pump shear-sensitive fluids without damaging the fluid
  • Can pump high-viscosity applications
  • Low pulsation output
  • Can pass small solids
  • Self-priming—not from a dry start
  • High accuracy—can be used for metering
  • Reversible—can be operated in either direction
  • Quiet operation


  • Cannot handle abrasive fluids—damages stator
  • Cannot pump low-viscosity fluids effectively
  • Cannot run dry—damages the stator, rotor and seal
  • Labor-intensive maintenance
  • Expensive repair parts and mechanical seals
  • Requires shaft alignment—key to seal and bearing life
  • Cannot deadhead—damages pump
  • Complicated sizing and selection process
  • Limited flow capacity
  • Limited head pressures—cannot pump long distances
  • Requires control system to avoid dry run and deadhead
  • Requires electric service
  • Takes up a lot of space compared to other pumps

Air-Operated Double-Diaphragm (AODD)


aodd pump



  • Runs dry without damaging the pump or system
  • Self-priming—works in suction lift applications
  • Deadheads safely with no pump or product damage
  • Does not shear or separate product being pumped
  • No electricity required—can be fully grounded
  • No degradation in performance as the pump parts wear
  • Low initial purchase price compared to other technologies
  • Submersible—can be completely submerged without safety or performance issues
  • No expensive mechanical seals or packings required
  • Variable flow and head pressures without sophisticated controls
  • Simple to install and portable


  • Bottom suction, top discharge so the fluid fights against gravity
  • Settling solids can fill up the pump chambers, reducing performance and shortening life
  • Dramatic flow directional changes and pinch points lead to capacity degradation
  • Ball check valves cannot handle many fluids containing solids


What if There Was One Pump That Could Do It All?

There is! For decades, the meat and poultry processing industry has trusted SANDPIPER’s heavy-duty flap valve pumps to solve common clogging challenges, from blood collection to wastewater management. The flaps allow solids as large as the pipes to pass through, including feathers, pig hair, casing room waste, organs, process water solids and wastewater solids and sludge.

These pumps, which have been the workhorse of the meat and poultry processing industry for over 50 years, feature:

  • Thick, robust chambers that withstand abrasive blood flow
  • Bolted construction for robust, leak-free performance
  • Top suction/bottom discharge for gravity-assisted solids transfer

Compared to AODD ball valve pumps and other rotating pump technologies, heavy-duty flap valve pumps are optimized to enhance performance and efficiency.

  • Highest flow capacity (1”, 2” and 3” pumps available)
  • Lowest air consumption in its class
  • If you can reduce how much air you use, you’re going to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • No reduction in performance as the pump ages
  • Minimal flow velocity changes for superior handling of thick, viscous fluids

SANDPIPER’s patented exclusive externally serviceable air distribution system (ESADS+) allows for complete access to the main air and pilot valves without removing the pump from service.

Need a Meat & Poultry Processing Pump?

SANDPIPER has a complete portfolio of AODD pumps tailored to the unique rigors and severe applications of meat and poultry processing. From blood collection to wastewater management, SANDPIPER is here to help.

We’re capable of providing pumping solutions for the meat processing and rendering industry with high-quality, cost-effective products backed by best-in-class warranties and certifications, including 3-A, FDA and the EC 1935/2004 Food Contact Materials Standard.

For more information on our selection of AODD pumps for meat and poultry processing, visit our Pumps page.

Topics: AODD Pumps, Meat and Poultry Processing

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