How Proper Sealing Can Solve Food and Beverage Equipment Reliability Issues
It’s no secret that FDA-compliant seal technology is often required for food and beverage equipment reliability. This means that the materials of construction must meet FDA requirements for sanitation and food safety, particularly in terms of equipment reliability where powders and slurries are used.
This also means that food-grade packing must be used if using compression packing to seal rotating equipment such as pumps, mixers, and blenders.
So, What Does This Mean for Mechanical Seal Selection?
According to a recent article in Processing, “Mechanical seals and other metal or plastic sealing technology must be produced from a food-grade sanitary material, such as stainless steel or metal-detectable plastic.”
Often, these technologies are installed in equipment that is cleaned or steamed in place, and these harsh industrial conditions must be taken into account when selecting a sealing solution.
In other words, the chosen seal technology must be able to withstand the cleaning chemicals and maximum temperatures of the cleaning/steaming processes.
If the incorrect technology is selected for dry powder or slurry applications, other pricey problems may occur, including:
- Equipment failure
- Downtime and lost production
- Replacement equipment or parts costs (this may require a crane or other service to remove the equipment or access the location to replace the parts)
- Product waste
What About Food and Beverage Equipment Reliability with Powders and Slurries?
Nearly invisible particulates in powders and slurries can wreak havoc on sealing systems where compression packing and mechanical seals are traditionally used.
However, according to the Processing article, if the process includes solid particles, they accelerate shaft and seal technology wear; and leakage, waste, damage, and downtime are inevitable.
Regulations on the food industry are fluid, especially with new and changing guidance around COVID-19,” the article explains. “Plants must focus on reliability to maximize uptime and prevent product waste. Air seal technology — a maintenance-free, long-life solution — continues to succeed in many food applications.”
When rotating assets move and mix slurries and powders, an air seal often becomes the ideal solution to ensure food and beverage equipment reliability. Their operation is reliable, and they are flexible enough to endure some shaft deflection.
Learn more about how air seals can be helpful in this area, as well as read two real-world case studies, in the complete Processing magazine article.