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The ultimate hygiene drive

Chris Middleton, managing director of Interroll, warns against using conventional conveyor belt drives in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.

In addition to the lost value of batches returned, a producer’s reputation could be irretrievably shattered with buyers moving acquisitions to other competitor sources. However, times and technology has moved on and it is now possible to use modern and competitively-priced production equip- ment that can virtually eliminate contamina- tion in processing. The food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries make special demands regarding hygiene and cleaning in production areas and, that is why machin- ery designs looks to be smooth-lined and crevice free to prevent dirt traps and is often manufactured from non-corrosive materials. Contamination is a major issue in the food and dairy sectors, including the soft cheese industry. Here, manufacturers are confronted with clostridia (spindle shaped bacterial cells). Various strategies exist such as UHT heating, adding salts, pre-melting, or introducing repressive substances such as nisin. But if the raw products used to produce these cheeses are contaminated themselves, even these measures can prove ineffective. Such highly resilient bacteria can then easily accumulate in production equipment.


However, traditional conveyer belt drives comprising of the classic geared motor, chain and pulley, are still in widespread use in the food, beverage and pharmaceuti- cal process and packing industries, but they do pose a potential contamination risk to products transported by them. Where guarding and obstacles create limited access to standard geared motors on produc-

18 August 2012 Storage Handling Distribution

istributing contaminated product, knowingly or unknowingly, can spell disaster for manufacturers.

tion lines cleaning cannot be thoroughly undertaken and as a result, it is not uncom- mon to see cooling ribs completely clogged with product residues or belt lubricants. Even the fan cowling attracts process dust and

Interroll’s drums are widely used in meat processing plants Contamination is a major issue in the food and dairy sectors

needs frequent removal for effective cleaning. A recent Interroll document reported that a food manufacturer recently became aware of this fact during a recall. Although chain motors are often placed under a protective guard and cover, fi ne dust particles can still accumulate on the chain. Unfortunately, most covers leave the undersides of the mechanisms exposed and are a far cry from complying with stringent protection standards such as IP65 or IP66. It was found that the source of contamination was actually the grease used to lubricate the chain. Although this substance is physiologi- cally harmless, it can nevertheless accumulate dust. Dust contaminating protein is the basic foodstuff for germs, bacteria and salmonellae, which occasionally break free from the chain due to normal process vibration and can end up in food. Drum motor drives eliminate the risk of contamination since the entire drive mechanism is located in a sealed unit. The easy to access, space saving and compact drum motor drives eliminate the risk of contamination, since the electric drive motor and integrated precision gearbox are all combined and enclosed in a crevice free, sealed rotating drum. With maintenance-free

bearings there is no need to lubricate the drive elements, and the absence of chains and cooling fan also removed further possible sources for dirt, dust and germs to accumulate. The obvious consequence is that drum motor drives are thus able to comply with the highest standards of hygiene and elimi- nates the risk of contamination due to dust accumulation. Drum motor drives offering IP66 protection classifi cation can be cleaned using high pressure hosing without the need for subsequent lubrication or maintenance. This not only reduces the risk of contamina- tion but also the total cost of ownership. The drum motor has evolved to be a serious contender to replace geared motor drives. Clean hygienic profi le features of drums have also the added benefi t of enabling a quick drive changeover with zero mainte- nance requirements; plus trials in conjunction with customers and OEMs to have dem- onstrated energy saving of between 32% (unloaded) and 47% (loaded) in comparison to conventional geared motor drives. n

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