GfA UK Ltd - product, industry and company news

Tel: 01926 452452 November 2015

Food processing applications - challenges to look out for

When specifying drives and controls for food processing and manufacturing sites, there are some common, and some more unusual, challenges.

Find out below how we created a solution for a door that hadn’t operated properly since the day it was installed. And see the examples to help you start thinking about requirements when talking to your customers.

Maintaining door functionality               
Often, food processing sites will have multiple internal doors to separate different areas of the site. For example, warehousing or storage from food production. These will run numerous operations each day so durability of the doors and drives is key.
Minimising heat loss and gain
High speed opening and closing is essential for temperature control. In a food processing plant, maintaining temperatures in certain areas, such as cold storage, is crucial. Doors need to be open for a minimum amount of time to prevent heat gain or loss
Meeting challenging hygiene standards 
In a plant that processes a variety of foods at the same time, it has to prevent cross-contamination and maintain a high standard of hygiene to ensure products are safe for consumers.
In many of the cases above, our customers specify fabric speed doors for which our Safedrive® Fi is ideal. It was specifically developed for speed, frequency of use and durability.
Exceedingly difficult conditions
Our technical team were recently tasked to create a solution for a fabric speed door on an industrial steam washer room in a cream cake factory. This was to replace an existing door that hadn’t worked properly since it was installed.
Our customer explains: “The washer uses steam to clean trays used in the cake manufacturing process. The steam quickly condenses on to the walls and every item within the room, including the door. When the cleaning process has finished, the floor is hosed down to ensure no deposits of cream leave the room. The condensation produced rendered the existing door useless.”
GfA’s Robert Booth says: “The door drives and controls needed to be capable of fast operation of the door to stop warm vapours escaping into colder rooms where the cakes are produced and stored, but we quickly established that the environment was not suitable for the Safedrive® Fi or conventional high-speed door drives. We needed to look at a solution that was both water and vapour resistant, above the traditional IP65-rated protection.”
In answer to similar challenges, GfA has developed IP65i; an enhanced IP65 model rangefor mechanical limit drives. Unlike normal IP65 protection, IP65i prevents damage caused by the ingress of water vapour, which condenses out on to the electrical components. IP65 only stops the ingress of liquid water.
On traditional drive units, the limits are on a circuit board within a sealed box. The box prevents liquid water getting to the circuit board, but in high humidity it cannot stop water vapour. Once inside the box the vapour condenses back to water, soaking the circuit board and causing electrical damage.
In IP65i drives, all the limit switches are totally encapsulated. Although vapour can still enter the box, any condensate cannot get to individual switches or cause them to short circuit with a neighbouring switch.
The IP65i drive units also have a special corrosion resistant finish applied to the motor and the gearbox. This is also applied to the hollowshaft.
Robert continues: “We designed a solution that incorporated an IP65i-rated high-speed door drive unit sized to the door in question with an electric motor designed to work off an inverter control to ensure soft-start and durability. The proprietary inverter control unit was installed in a special IP65 rated enclosure incorporating an anti-condensation heater to keep the controls dry.”                                  
The customer reports that all is now working fine!
For help specifying the right solutions for your application please talk to our Technical sales team on 01926 452452.