The drum unloader system (DUS) has been designed to hygienically handle highly-viscous food products that need to be transferred from storage barrels into mixing tanks during the manufacturing process. The DUS uses stainless-steel parts and has been designed for use with the company’s AODD pump. It incorporates a pneumatic piston system that acts upon a follower plate to assist in the removal of highly-viscous products from drums. When the system is in service, the pneumatic piston lowers the follower plate over the drum on to the surface of the product. This optimizes the pump’s suction condition so that it draws in the product instead of air, which prevents cavitation and increases efficiency. The use of a follower plate also eliminates the need for an inlet manifold, minimizing suction losses, inaccurate drum alignments and product waste.