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Combating Corrosion in Food Processing

Publishing Date: March 2021

Host Carmen Ek sits down with Gearing Product Manager, Bryan Young to discuss the trends and challenges happening today in food processing and how the new Hub City Stainless Steel HERA gear drive sizes can help.

Season # 1: Episode #: 11

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Combating Corrosion in Food Processing

Carmen: This is Community News On the Air, brought to you by Regal Power Transmission solutions. I'm your host, Carmen Ek. In this podcast series we'll be sharing tools, tips and new innovations to address some of the tough challenges our customers face. Overall, my goal is to help our customers employees be successful.

I'm Carmen Ek, and today we're going to talk about sanitation and productivity challenges in food processing and some of the new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joining me is Bryan Young, Gearing Product Manager with Regal. Bryan, it's good to have you here on Community News On the Air today. Tell me a little bit about your role and what you do.

Bryan: Certainly. First off, good morning and thank you. I'm gearing product manager, a master-of-all kind of thing, into both the classical product management, but I also help customers directly. I talk to them about their problems and helping them choose something to fix the problem, but that also allows me information to improve a given product line or several product lines, based on that personal feedback on the day to day.

Carmen: Absolutely. As I understand, with the stainless steel HERA gear drive, that you've recently extended that product line. Which is really something that specifically can help the food industry. Can you talk a little bit about the trends that you are seeing today within food, meat, poultry, etc? And the things you're seeing?

Bryan: One of the things, if we take a step back and just think, we have noticed is -- there's been an increase in the last number of years of food contamination issues. And while we've grown up being very concerned about the meat processing, it's showing up almost as frequently now, maybe more so in the fruits and vegetables, than in the meat because we've been focusing on the meat processing for so long. Now we're seeing it in the romaine lettuce -- salmonella here, salmonella there, kind of thing.

And with that, society and the producers are more concerned and being more diligent about the cleaning process. To do the processors have become more aggressive in their cleaning. And that's a good and bad. The good is we have cleaner equipment, therefore we have a lower risk of contamination. But the bad side of it is, some of this equipment, and a large chunk of the older equipment, is not set up to handle this aggressive cleaning. Traditional painting of a product that would work fine in a distribution center for boxes and mail doesn't hold up well to strong cleaners.

So the big push has been to go to, first it was coatings that we tried, to see if they would hold up, because that was a little more cost effective. But the answer has been -- go to stainless. We don't have a coating or a paint that you can put on that a chemical will eventually take off.

Carmen: How has this last year, especially with COVID, changed the dynamic further? What have you been seeing there?

Bryan: Yes, actually it has. One, we have a heightened awareness of cleanliness and what's going on. Two, in certain steps along the process, it has been traditionally cost effective just to have people do it. Whether it's hand picking fruits and vegetables, out sorting them, going down a conveyor. The problem has been prior to our year of COVID -- these people are elbow to elbow, bumping into each other, and talking and sharing the same air.

Carmen: Right. Not a lot of room for social distancing.

Bryan: Right. That becomes a real challenge for the people producing. Now they have to spread the people apart because we got to take care of our workers, because otherwise it doesn't happen, but they still have to get the stuff out the door.

We certainly have not slowed down eating with COVID. In some cases, some of us have increased our intake.

Carmen: Yes. Certainly a lot of that going on.

Bryan: Yeah, there's a lot of that, and the good and the bad of it.

And there are certain parts of this country, there are certain regions that it appears that their business has increased. And I'm talking about food producers, not just video games and online shopping, but food producers. First it was a slow down, and then it started picking up to paces prior to COVID. So now they're challenged with spreading people apart and slowing down the line, but the demand is greater. So it's created its own set of challenges.

Carmen: How is that impacting gearboxes and other components on the equipment that's running? What are you seeing them do?

Bryan: Again, with a heightened awareness of sanitizing, now we've got even a little more aggressive. There's a new set of chemicals, or a slight variation of what was being used two years ago, to clean with. And the stainless is the material that generally just holds up best. It also allows for them to clean a little faster, a little more pressure, a little more soap -- for a simple term to use -- to clean with. That in itself, the stainless helps with the cleaners. But now we've been increasing the pressure again. And that's where this IP69K rating comes in. We've got to be able to handle those pressures.

For a gearbox, water on the inside is a very, very bad thing. The gears, the bearings, the oil, none of it likes it at all. So with the HERA in the stainless, they are third party certified IP69K.

And just recently we have expanded the product line from two frame sizes, the 35 and 45, to include the 55 and 75. This gets us up to 8500 inch-pounds of torque capacity on the 75.

If you're replacing a worm, a classical worm reducer, this gets us six more center distances we can cover with two frame sizes. So it leads into the ability to reduce inventory, skew consolidation with the classical HERA value prop -- because of the way it's designed, we can replace multiple center distances with one gearbox.

So it seemed like it was a natural fit to go ahead and expand this line. We had the idea going anyway, and this year of COVID has just pushed it a little faster.

Carmen: And then it sounds like, too, there's another challenge that our customers tend to have, which is they're looking to reduce their inventory, they're looking to consolidate or standardize, and it sounds like that HERA can certainly help with that as well.

Bryan: Oh, it absolutely can help with that. We took a good thing with the two sizes and expanded it to make more of a good thing, to get the full four sizes. This is a complementary range. It's the same range as our cast iron offering, so now we can better leverage all the features of its cast iron partner with the stainless steel.

Carmen: Oh, great. Wonderful.

Well, Bryan, that's all the time we have for today. I really appreciate you sitting down and sharing your experiences with us and giving us some insight into what you're seeing out there in the market. Thanks again for taking the time.

Bryan: Thank you. It's always a pleasure talking to you, Carmen.

Carmen: Thanks, Bryan. Have a good day.

Bryan: You too. Bye now.



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