Balancing Sanitation & Productivity Requirements in Extreme Washdown Environments

In most industries, the balancing act of satisfying sanitation and safety regulations while maintaining productivity requirements is challenging. However, the extreme washdown nature of the food and beverage manufacturing environment adds to this challenge. Plant managers are often so focused on meeting their operational requirements that they might not have the time to consider how a few changes can go a long way in reducing unplanned downtime, minimizing maintenance needs and increasing overall productivity.

Industry Challenges

Two of the most common challenges that food and beverage manufacturers are faced with are in the areas of food safety and worker safety. With countless regulations and requirements from agencies such as the FDA, USDA, and OSHA, there is much to consider.

Food safety concerns regarding the growth of bacteria in and around equipment results in following HACCP practices and the need for clean in place (CIP) high-pressure washdowns. Another concern comes in the form of potential lubrication leakage and contamination into food products.

Worker safety must also be considered within the manufacturing facility. Issues such as catch points and exposed shafting can become safety hazards for factory workers. The result of these challenges is the need for conflicting requirements. For example, when you put an end cap on a bearing to prevent entrapment, you then have the risk of that being a catch point for bacteria buildup.

The Effect on Productivity

Because of the conflicting requirements discussed above, plants are often faced with issues such as corrosion, degraded component life, lubrication issues, and parts proliferation. All of these problems lead to nuisance or time-based maintenance, and in turn unplanned downtime. Add to the equation the impact of warranty claims and time spent on field service technician calls, and this lost time has a real effect on productivity.

Making a Case for Proper Components

So what can be done? We know that although the industry is rapidly changing, the equipment might not be. Getting new equipment isn’t always feasible so in many cases you will need to adapt with what you have. Procuring the proper components, including gearboxes, bearings and motors, can help plant managers balance their sanitation needs and productivity goals.

Start by asking the following questions:

  • What are the primary challenges in your plant?
  • Are the challenges the same in all areas of your plant?
  • How often are you replacing the same components due to corrosion- weekly, monthly, every six months, until they fail?
  • What would it mean for these components to last two times, five times, or even ten times longer?

The right product design can lead to longer life and less disruptions. In extreme washdown and high- pressure environments, the answer is often products with IP69K certification.

IP69K Certification

Ingress Protection (IP) Markings rate the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact and water. These internationally recognized ratings are published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to explain how products can withstand various environmental factors that occur in industrial plants. IP ratings include two numbers — the first is the amount of protection against solid particles and the second is protection against liquids. While the first number can range from 0-6, the second number can range from 0-9k. In each case, the higher the number means the higher the protection against intrusion.

The IP69K rating, the highest rank on the rating scale, is for high-pressure, high-temperature washdown applications. Enclosures conforming to it must not only be dust-tight, but also able to withstand high water pressure and steam cleaning. Third party testing for IP69K certification is conducted by pressure spraying the product with water at a rate between 14-16 liters per minute with 1400 psi from a distance of four to six inches. The water, which must be heated to 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit), is sprayed at 0, 30, 60, and 90 degree angles for thirty seconds while the product is rotated five times.

IP69K certified products have been widely adopted by food and beverage industry because of their use in high temperature cleaning and sanitizing procedures where chemicals cannot penetrate food items. Using IP69K products adds a layer of safety and sanitation to plant operations.

Product Innovations

The good news is that there are solutions that can help, including bearings, gearboxes and motors that are all IP69K certified. Innovations include stainless steel housing and covers, triple-lip seals, rust-proof designs, and the ability to withstand the harshest conditions. These high performance components are proven to provide durability, longer life, and corrosion and contamination avoidance in extreme washdown environments.

Regal offers a complete portfolio of IP69K certified products designed to help you to meet your operational goals. Talk with a Power Transmission Specialist today to learn more about how the right components can increase productivity in your facility.

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