Ask 10 engineers working in Food & Beverage manufacturing what “washdown” means to them and you will probably get about 12 answers. Ask them why they wash down equipment and a more consistent answer appears, everyone is concerned about making clean healthy food and they want to reduce areas of harborage for bacteria. These environments tend to be cool & wet which usually leads the engineers to ask for 316L stainless steel & ingress protection of IP69K from component manufacturers and also ask for special component ratings.
So what are the basic elements of the washdown procedure?
- Hot! – Minimum 140F to kill microbes & bacteria.
- High Pressure! – Up to 1000psi to blast away soiled material.
- Nasty! – Water, caustics, acid detergents, spray & foam everywhere.
- Hard Work! – Typically includes a hand cleaning or scrubbing of key components.
- Regular! – Typically 15-20hrs per week are spent cleaning equipment but in dairy & meat it can be more.
What requirements are put onto components exposed to washdown?
- Stainless Steel resists corrosion and is polished to level the microscopic roughness that provides harborage for bacteria.
- Special Component Ratings:
- ECOLAB chemical testing for housings
- FDA approved materials
- 3A USA hygienic for US Equipment
- EHEDG hygienic for European Equipment
- IP69K is tested to be protected from high pressure steam cleaning per DIN40050 part 9; this is not guaranteed to be immersion rated (IP67) unless specifically identified.
If you are interested in what sensors, networking & RFID products are available for use in food and beverage manufacturing with a washdown environment, please visit www.balluff.us.
When selecting the proper Inductive sensor it is very important to understand the type of application environment the sensor will be installed in. In previous posts, I have blogged about various types of sensors and how they fit into the application mix. For example, a welding application will need specific sensor features that will help combat the normal hostilities that are common to heat, weld spatter and impact due to tight tolerances within the fixture areas.
Inductive sensors are also used more and more in aggressive environments including machine tools, stamp and die, and food and beverage applications. Many times within these types of applications there are aggressive chemicals and cleaners that are part of the application process or simply part of the cleanup procedure that also
mandates high pressure wash down procedures.
So, when we have a stamping or food and beverage application that uses special oils or coolants we know a standard sensor is on borrowed time. This is where harsh environment sensors come in as they offer higher IP ratings with no LED function indicators that seals the sensor to withstand the harshest processes. They also will have high grade stainless steel housings special plated electronics along with additional O-rings making them ideal for the most hostile environment.
- High grade stainless steel housing
- No LED indicator
- Gold plated internal contacts
- Additional sealing O-rings
- Increased IP ratings
- Higher temperature ratings
For more information on inductive sensors for harsh environments you can visit the Balluff website at www.balluff.us.
As has been discussed previously, industrial sensors must be able to withstand some pretty punishing conditions. Although industrial sensors incorporate some of the same high-end technology found in, say, the blu-ray disc player in your home theater system, it’s not likely that your BD player is going to be subjected to punishing shock, vibration, and general abuse as do the sensors in your industrial machinery. To be sure, your blu-ray player doesn’t need to be protected against hydraulic fluid or moisture ingress. Which brings me to the topic of this entry: Ingress protection for industrial sensors.
In order to be viable in typical industrial environments, industrial sensors must often be able to tolerate getting wet, sometimes really, really wet. Fortunately, most sensors do indeed incorporate some degree of ingress protection by design. And it’s pretty easy to choose the proper sensor for a particular set of expected conditions thanks to a method of rating method outlined under international standard IEC 60529. This standard takes the somewhat vague term “waterproof” and provides specific details as to just how waterproof an electronic device is.
An IP (Ingress Protection) rating for an electronic device typically consists of the letters IP, followed by a two-digit number. The first digit identifies the protection against intrusion of solid objects (dirt, hand tools, your fingers, etc.):
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