Food safety is one of the most important factors in food and beverage manufacturing and limiting the risk of cross-contamination has been a key driver behind many of the industry’s newest innovations.
Due to high demand, low voltage electrical and automation specialist, APS Industrial, is stocking a suite of hygienic enclosures from Rittal, a German-based electrical enclosure company.
APS Industrial product manager, Lenard Scott, said Rittal’s hygienic enclosures were developed in Europe to meet stringent health and safety standards, this helped them receive high Ingress Protection (IP) ratings making them suitable for the most demanding applications.
“In the food and Beverage industry there is a lot more caustic chemical washdowns now, to make sure everything is clean, and these enclosures help reduce the amount of area for bacteria to cling and grow,” said Scott.
“Basically, making it a safer environment for food production.”
The IP rating system is used to classify what a product can and can’t achieve with regards to limiting contamination risks and a product must undergo extensive testing before it is granted the IP69K rating.
The enclosures’ IP69K rating provides protection against the ingress of dust, high-pressure, high-temperature water jets from cleaning wash down procedures. This is critical for electrical machinery that requires regular wash downs.
Scott said the rating was one of the most important aspects of Rittal’s hygienic enclosures because it gives industry clients confidence before committing to the investment.
“The rating means there is a lot less chance of it having water ingress internally and the Brushed, grain 400, peak-to-valley height < 0.8 µm helps in limiting bacteria growth. Those are the key drivers behind this technology,” said Scott.
“Whereas with the standard stainless-steel options, mounted in the same spot, would be at a greater risk. For example, the seals aren’t easily wiped down and pose higher risk of water ingress.”
The replaceable silicone lining of the door is one of the critical components behind the high IP rating because of its ability to seal off the inside from external washing.
“It’s really moving from what was an industry standard to a new standard that meets the environmental requirements and helps extend their effectiveness. It is about constant improvement,” said Scott.
The lock on the door was also designed with contamination prevention in mind.
“The lock is sealed and contoured, with no sharp angles, and you have to use a special key to open it. On top of that, there are no holes in the enclosure, which means it is all mounting points are captive,” said Scott.
The only point of entry is when you drill or punch a hole to install a cable gland. It has to be IP69K-rated gland, or the enclosure IP Rating is reduced to the rating of the gland.”
One area that is spoken about regularly in the industry is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and how to improve the process with minimal downtime and less things to change.
Rittal developed stainless-steel air/water heat exchangers to help keep the sealed off enclosures cool because fans or air-conditioners aren’t ideally suited to this environment.
The exchangers pump cold water, which creates a differential temperature, which in turn cools the enclosure while keeping it fully sealed from the outside. The cleaning-friendly design reduces the risk of contamination and helps in ensuring food safety.
“It is really the best cooling solution for an enclosure in this environment,” said Scott.
The implementation of Rittal’s IP69K rated enclosures can also help with meeting future industry targets around sustainability and the reduction of food waste by lowering the risks of product contamination.
“If you do get a contamination you have to shut down, and clean everything. It creates massive downtime,” said Scott.
“Trying to improve the process and equipment to maximise throughput of the product is a key driver behind the technology.”
Currently, there aren’t many other hygienic enclosures on the Australian market with an IP69K rating and Scott said upgrading now had benefits that don’t come with other standard options.
The Rittal enclosures tailored specifically for the food and beverage industry are the Hygienic Design Terminal Box and Switch housings HD, the Hygienic Design Compact Enclosure HD – single door and the Hygienic Design Compact Enclosure HD – two door – Hygienic Design Computer/ Monitor Enclosure HD
Fire Extinguisher Enclosure HD, and the Rittal bayable large HD enclosure system.
“Effectively you are replacing a product you would normally put in, with one of superior quality, and your benefits will be long term,” said Scott.
“These enclosures last two to three times longer than standard models due to the sealing and design, preventing moisture built up which in turn can cause corrosion or rust.
“The chance of it failing is reduced dramatically by using this product over a standard one.”