Food safety and the advantages of enclosing vacuum pumps

April 17, 2020


It’s impossible to overstate the importance of safety and quality in food manufacturing. Consumers’ well-being depends on the ability of food producers and processors to maintain the highest standards of hygiene. Numerous government regulations, including for example, the Food and Drug Administration in the US, uphold these standards and keep companies on track to follow best practices.

One example is the routine cleaning of processing and packaging equipment with regular washdowns. These washdowns are, and will probably always be, standard practice in food production plants, especially now that health and hygiene are at the forefront of the public consciousness. 

Unfortunately, repeated washing can harm adjacent equipment. 

Vacuum pumps and equipment sanitation

On many plant floors, vacuum pumps are placed right next to processing and packaging lines. This makes sense in terms of workflow. Pumps lose speed across distance, so placing them farther away from the processing line would take more energy and could hurt product quality.

Unfortunately, when vacuum pumps are close to processing and packaging equipment, they have consistent exposure to cleaning materials. Eventually, the pumps corrode and don't work as well as they did before. Their life cycles deteriorate, they cost more to operate, and more critically, they start to contaminate food. 

Related: Find out exactly how expensive your vacuum pump is to run (and what you can do to mitigate costs) in our blog post, Your Vacuum Pump May Be Costing More Money Than You Think. And if you want to read more about the future of food production, click the button below and download our free ebook: Modern Vacuum Technology and Industrial Food Production.

Avoiding pump corrosion from cleaning processes

Instead of moving vacuum pumps away from the processing and packaging lines, which is a costly proposition, manufacturers might consider protective enclosures. A stainless steel enclosure protects the pump from cleaning processes and keeps it safe from unnecessary corrosion.

To provide a real solution, Leybold has created a series of hygienic enclosures. These stainless-steel hygienic enclosures are available in seven sizes and are custom-made to fit an individual pump.

The enclosures are simple and don’t interfere with the pump’s operations. Watch the video for a visual introduction to the Leybold enclosures.

The benefits of enclosing vacuum pumps

The primary benefit of vacuum pump exposure is flexibility. When the pump is protected from cleaning solutions and other contaminants in the plant environment, manufacturers don’t have to worry about where those pumps should be placed.

Right now, the ability to maintain rigorous cleaning standards is incredibly important for food manufacturers. Hygiene is top of mind for everyone, from regulators to consumers. To stay viable, plants need to abide by best practices without risking downtime. Enclosures provide that peace of mind.

Once manufacturers no longer need to worry about pump exposure, they can think more innovatively about equipment placement. Some plants may even be able to move their pumps closer to the production lines, eliminating the need for expensive piping and improving the overall speed of production.

Related: Find out how you can avoid unnecessary downtime in our blog post, 5 Maintenance Tips to Optimize Productivity. 

Future applications of equipment enclosures

With the success of vacuum pump enclosures come new ideas for the future. The stainless-steel enclosure concept could soon apply to other equipment types, from stuffers and tumblers to various forms of packaging machinery. 

Enclosing some of these machines could allow plant designers to change the arrangement of the production line, improving mechanical efficiency and allowing for more logistical experimentation while maintaining cost control.

Leybold, the developer of the Hygienic Enclosures described above, can explain more about how these structures work and how they can be game-changers in plant efficiency. Click the button below to reach out and start a conversation!

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