Clean, efficient production of food and beverage products has never been more important. Just one product recall or serious outbreak of disease can ruin a brand's reputation or even shut a company down.
STOBER Drives, Inc., of Maysville, Ky., has developed the PSS, a new stainless steel inline planetary unit that helps alleviate worry about sanitation during food and beverage processing. "The highly-efficient unit can handle ratios from 4 to 100:1 and is adaptable to several NEMA C-frame motors," said Mike Mitchell, business development manager at STOBER. It also withstands the harshest of wash down environments.
While food and beverage manufacturers are likely educated constantly on the importance of cleanliness on a cellular level when it comes to production and sanitation, Mitchell gives three reasons why plant managers and engineers need to remain diligent on machinery efficiency and sanitation.
The organic trend in food and drinks
"Consumers today select healthier foods and packaged drinks that contain fewer additives and preservatives," said Mitchell. Many people today have compromised immune systems or food allergies or are sensitive to colors and fragrances, too.
The emphasis on organics and health foods means a shorter shelf life on ingestible products and an even smaller margin for error when it comes to bacterial contamination.
"All it takes is one listeria or E. coli breakout to undo years of creating marketing and brand positioning," said Mitchell. "While manufacturers have always been concerned with food safety, the margin for error is ever-shrinking when it comes to safe, allowable contaminants in food or drinks."
"The rounded housing of the PSS makes it more difficult for bacteria to grow and spread," he said. "Innovation is constant and equipment efficiency and design ever-improving among those of us who manufacture machinery and engine parts related to factory production of food and beverages," he said. "It pays in many ways to keep up on innovations and new machinery trends."
Machinery, parts should be tough, efficient, state-of-the-art—Expenditures to update equipment have fallen behind in recent years. According to investment bank Morgan Stanley, in 2014, the average age of industrial equipment was 10 years old—the oldest it has been since the height of the Great Depression. "Couple this need to update factory equipment with the innovations that have occurred in production machinery and design, and manufacturers get an opportunity to go greener and become more energy efficient and sanitary," said Mitchell.
"Since the recession, many companies have focused on spending to upgrade technology and security," said Mitchell. "Investment in factory equipment by updating and replacing old machinery has lagged and now that the economy is stronger, it needs to be addressed."
Plant managers and engineers need to be proactive in making certain all sections of the production process are highly-efficient and up to date. "While we all complain about the cost of machinery and replacement parts on the production line, it's a good investment to keep current," said Mitchell.
He recommended inspections of production floor machinery for updates and replacements when needed. "If you purchase the most efficient machinery, costly downtime and maintenance is eliminated," he said, "which amps up productivity.
"Aging gears, gear units, and old conveyor belts are inefficient and break down more frequently and can contaminate product," said Mitchell. "Cracks and crevices in machine parts can harbor bacteria that even the most precise wash downs can't eliminate. Engineering constantly improves and factories today have countless opportunities to mitigate sanitation risk with the selection of the most highly-efficient machinery and tools. Most equipment manufacturers would be happy to walk through a factory floor and provide suggestions for improvement."
Machinery has to withstand caustic wash down environments-- "Because so much is at stake in the sanitation arena regarding food and beverage production, effective wash down is critical to achieving long term manufacturing success in the food and beverage industry," said Mitchell.
"It's a given that machinery in food and beverage production should be durable, but gear units should also be completely sealed with no opportunity for contamination inside or outside of a unit," he said. "Products like the STOBER PSS are IP69K compliant, and can withstand the harsh wash downs required for sanitation," he added. "The PSS is especially effective in the highly-caustic worlds of food and beverage production," he said. "No maintenance is required and it is lubricated for life."
STOBER Drives, Inc., is a leading provider of high-quality gearboxes with more than 80 years of gearing experience. For more information about STOBER products, go to www.stober.com or call (800) 711-3588.