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Meeting stringent hygiene requirements

03 September 2017

Despite high IP ratings, motors can still suffer as a result of water ingress in harsh CIP environments. Food Processing has been told that there is now a motor that can cope with this. 

During processing of fruit, vegetables, meats or dairy products, hygienic conditions are important and cleaning procedures such as the clean-in-place (CIP) are often carried out while conveyor belts are still running. Components that form part of the conveyor systems, such as the motors, therefore, need to be specially designed and built to avoid ingress of water or food debris.

The goal of CIP is to establish a process which allows the desired cleaning performance to be reproduced at any time so that it can be documented in a sustainable manner in terms of cleaning agents, pressures, temperatures and times.

The CIP process, however, is often uncompromising - with high-pressure cleaners and steam jets. Cleaning needs to be undertaken as cleanly and efficiently as possible and attention to sensitive components is not usually taken into consideration.

For this reason, conveying components such as drum motors not only need to be resistant to aggressive cleaning and disinfecting agents, they must also be 100% leak-proof as they may be subjected to cleaning with surge water, as well as high-pressure and steam-jet cleaning several times every day, while still in operation.

Double protection
Whether a component provides effective sealing is usually specified by IP protection ratings. It is important that motors are equipped with a double IP protection because the high-quality IP69 protection does not automatically include IP66 protection. For IP66 protection, strong jets of water at a distance of 100 l/min at a pressure of 1 Bar against the housing from any direction for at least three minutes have no harmful effects. IP69 provides protection against high pressure or steam jet cleaning. Thus, systems are protected against water jets from close proximity to high temperature.

Stainless steel drum motors from Rulmeca meet this need, having double IP66/IP69 protection, therefore IP66/IP69-plus, which shows that they are protected against a preliminary cleaning and subsequent rinsing of the cleaning and disinfecting agents as well as against the microbiological cleaning with steam jet and high-pressure cleaners.

While this double protection is sufficient, it does not always work with drum motors, because the IP tests are run at standstill. However, conveyor belts with drum motors are usually cleaned with CIP processes while the motor is running. For such applications, drum motors must also have an IP66 /IP69-plus protection during operation. When the motor is mounted and rotating, the belt forces load the bearing of the axle on one side. As a result, microscopic gaps can occur which are not present when the motor is at standstill.

These gaps can lead to the penetration of cleaning agents and water, which can reduce the service life of the motors and increase the maintenance requirements. Rulmeca has therefore tested its drum motors during operation to prove that the motors provide reliable protection under both IP66 and IP69 conditions.

The critical point is the seal between the static axle and the rotating drum. Many drum motors use a hardened bush, which is glued to the axle journal and operates with a steel disc seal. 

Instead, Rulmeca uses a simple built-in friction seal made of PTFE. In the sealing area, the axle pin has been surface-treated by rolling. The sealing surface becomes harder and smoother. The PTFE microparticles ensure a friction-free and long-term running without abrasion on this surface. The PTFE seal is equipped with a double lip seal without microscrew effect, so it is 100% leak-proof in operation.

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