Food processing equipment poses unique challenges for maintenance personnel. Wet operating conditions and washdown requirements can require specially designed equipment to help ensure mandated sanitation compliance. This results in increasing pressure for manufacturers to design food processing equipment that is easier to clean and maintain and reduces downtime.
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Explore This IssueApril/May 2020
Millions of dollars are invested each year in capital improvements to facilities and equipment to increase product safety, protect employees, and reduce costs. Equipment in a typical food processing plant may run 16 to 20 hours a day, every day. Often, equipment failure is the most common cause for downtime. The longer it takes plant personnel to respond and repair equipment, the more damaging the interruption. What’s more, systems that are not at full speed create a domino effect that can result in missed deadlines, lost revenue, and disappointed customers. Unplanned downtime can cost a food processing facility an astounding $30,000 per hour, according to a 2017 report from industry research firm Enterprise Strategy Group. Downtime can cost a company more than just money; it can be a logistical nightmare. The expenses and ramifications are simply too high for plants to risk equipment failures.
The Food Safety Modernization Act is transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness to preventing it. Product recalls cost food and beverage companies millions of dollars each year, but 56 percent of last year’s recalls across the U.S., U.K., and Ireland were preventable, according to the Queen’s Center for Assured and Traceable Foods in the U.K. Processors must commit to improving equipment hygiene; however, keeping equipment clean presents obstacles, which manufacturers can help overcome.
According to a Deloitte Food Safety Programs report, Food Safety Management: An Enterprise and Operational Level Risk Perspective, “reliably delivering safe and quality food is no longer just about food safety science. An effective safe food program needs a broad approach that incorporates science as well as strategic process and risk planning. Risks to food safety exist along each step of this complex farm-to-fork continuum regardless of the journey’s length—local farmer to restaurant table or foreign source to domestic manufacturing site.”
Food processing plants are very difficult environments for motors due to the daily cleaning and sanitizing of equipment. Harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and other caustics are used to clean equipment and can be extremely corrosive. In addition to caustic chemicals, high pressure spray is used, sometimes up to 1000 psi, with the nozzle held just a few inches away from the motor. While this ensures the removal of all contaminants from the equipment, water enters these motors and does extensive damage.
Washdown Motors Reduce Downtime and Energy Costs
With rising costs for energy and labor, the need is greater than ever to optimize equipment reliability to maximize uptime and productivity. According to a 2018 McKinsey & Company report, “Customers are demanding machines that improve operational efficiency, cut costs, and increase uptimes….”
Food processing companies can help reduce foodborne illnesses and operating costs through the use of encapsulated stainless steel food safety motors. Unfortunately, because electric motors are often out of sight and out of mind until production is down due to a burnout, this improvement is often not thought about. However, being proactive can have a dramatic effect on the bottom line.
A stainless steel washdown motor is suitable where motors are commonly exposed to moisture, humidity, and specific chemicals that cause corrosion. With the use of washdown motors, flexibility and durability are enhanced, which can lower operating expenses while increasing uptime. Hygienic equipment design not only mitigates the potential areas prone to harbor bacteria, but it also facilitates post-sanitation evaluation by ensuring accessibility during visual verification and environmental monitoring.