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Is your closed equipment really clean?

28 January 2019

Food Processing finds out more about EHEDG guidelines and testing regime which helps ensure the hygienic design of closed equipment such as pumps. 

Founded by Unilever 30 years ago, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) is a global consortium of over 400 food process equipment manufacturers whose aim is to ensure the hygienic design of process equipment. It publishes guideline documents and sets best practice, as well as certifying equipment that meets the very highest standards of food hygiene, providing a globally recognised test method for establishing the cleanability of closed hygienic equipment, using a specified cleaning and testing regime. 

As well as giving end-users peace of mind that closed equipment is microbiologically clean, equipment designed to this standard typically requires 76% less cleaning time, saving on water, detergent and energy. 

It is, however, also important that adherence to safety and hygiene does not affect product quality. The challenge for manufacturers supplying the food industry, therefore, is to design equipment and cleaning regimes that provide the best possible hygienic solutions to ensure product safety without comprising product quality. 

These issues were at the forefront when SEEPEX designed the BCFH progressive cavity pump, to stringent EHEDG guidelines.

Hygienic pump design must encompass not only the materials used to construct the pump itself, but also its cleanability, including surfaces and rotating components. To ensure effective cleaning using CIP there must be no areas that are structurally difficult to clean and no food or microbial residues remaining after cleaning, as these will contaminate subsequent production. Automated product transfer must also be possible without any detrimental effect on product quality, either physically or microbiologically.  

Pumps in the BCFH range feature a split suction casing, designed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) which analysed liquid flow patterns. The use of CFD helped to identify improvements that could be made to the suction casing inlet, to produce ‘swirl flow’ which guides the CIP fluid to all areas of the pump, creating more efficient cleaning of all surfaces and allows less aggressive cleaning fluids to be used. 

Making the grade
The EHEDG testing process required to ensure that the pump meet the required standards required it to be run with product innoculated with microbes. The pumps were then cleaned at a lower temperature than is normal for standard CIP, before being stripped down and tested, to ensure every microbial trace had been removed.
 
Recent changes to the EHEDG certification process have made testing even more rigorous, as well as more transparent. Certification is now only valid for five years, and results are also reviewed by independent EHEDG inspectors, in addition to those that carry out the original tests. The new testing procedures will become a requirement for all EHEDG-certified companies by 2020.

Product integrity
All PC pumps from SEEPEX  have a low-shear action which does not affect the physical quality of a product. Even sensitive products such as yogurts, cream cheese, whipped cream or other colloidal mixes. Equally, they can efficiently pump viscous and sticky products, as well as those containing soft solids such as fruit or vegetable pieces. When used for dosing, PC pumps should produce a low pulsation flow that has linear proportionality to the pump speed, allowing for easy calibration and greater accuracy. 

The use of PC pumps could also help manufacturers lower their production costs when compared with alternatives such as  rotary lobe or twin-screw pumps which create shear that will affect consistency. Additives are usually needed to compensate for this shear to ensure that sensitive products such as yogurts regain their original consistency. The use of low shear PC pumps eliminates the need for these additives. 


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