Why Pneumatic Systems are Ideal for Hygienic-Sensitive Applications Such as the Food Industry

Blog | March 8th, 2019

Machines and hygiene-sensitive applications are not naturally compatible. Generally speaking, oily machines and dirty mechanical gears should be kept far away from the food industry. To quash such food hygiene issues, system designers have ousted the many moving parts and assemblies that form conventional machine architectures. In place of those pollutant-plagued assemblies, they’ve built a diverse range of pneumatically actuated equipment, which features a dry and mechanically denuded build.

Built For Air-Powered Hygiene

Granted, the word “denuded” doesn’t feel quite right. For engineers, the term stripped back probably makes more sense. That’s an approach that’s already been in use for many years within buildings that have explosive potential. In chemical factories and fuel dumps, the smallest spark could cause a combustive reaction, so there are no electric motors or levers permitted inside such sites. Pneumatic actuators take their place. Okay, the risk of an explosion inside a hygiene-sensitive food production facility is unlikely. But, and this is important, pneumatic equipment doesn’t just prevent spark-induced explosion, the gear also eliminates mechanical contaminants.

Building a Food-Safe Pneumatic System

Back in some distant plant room, the Programmable Logic Arrays (PLC) modules are directing the food production equipment. Only, their signals don’t go all the way to the factory floor; they’re received by pneumatically energized valves, which send pressurized air signals into the food processing equipment. That’s all well and good now, but couldn’t the air carry dirt and oil? No worries, the air is filtered and dried back at the compressor. Then, as the air zips along the control tubes, it’s further filtered until it’s scrubbed clean of any system byproducts. Tube-delivered, the pneumatic signals are dirt and oil-free, and the air is absolutely dry.

It’s a Cleanable Circuitry Form

One last thing, even if we could allow an electromechanical machine inside a food production environment, it wouldn’t be an ideal solution. Think about it, about the need to flush and clean the food when it’s being processed. Then, with the food gone, a cleaning cycle begins. Pressure hoses wash the stainless steel parts, and the water drains away through numerous little culverts. Sealed and pressurized, the pneumatic circuitry doesn’t issue a hiccup before or after the cleaning. Can the same be said for electrical gear? At best, oily deposits will be washed free. At worst, the electrics will short-circuit.

Smooth plastic tubes and moderately high air pressures facilitate a hygiene-centric system controlling architecture. Indeed, the multidirectional air controllers and actuators are every bit as sophisticated as an electrically managed equipment line. But this gear runs dry and clean. It doesn’t carry oils or dirt, and the compressor-charged air keeps right on going, even when its many parts are subjected to a food-safe pressure hose.

Mobile Hydraulic Specialties Pty Ltd

Factory 89, 38-40 Popes Road
Keysborough, Victoria, 3173

Phone: (03) 9798-6511

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