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Yorkshire firm rolls out £250,000 investment for food producers

27 March 2015

A Yorkshire engineering firm has invested more than £250,000 in a new product that will help food manufacturers cut production costs, improve hygiene standards and traceability.

Food production has been hit in recent years as sub standard stainless steel tubing has made its way into the manufacturing process.  This has had a massive financial impact on producers adversely affecting hygiene, health and safety and factory downtime.

The Versaline range from HpE Process Ltd, of Leeds, improves maintenance intervals while safeguarding food quality.  It could dramatically cut maintenance costs for many producers.

MD, Andrew Allman has been working closely with key customers to develop a solution that was financially and ethically sustainable.  Versaline follows eight years of research and development trialling different products from across Europe and Asia.

“Tubes in food production are subject to unusually frequent expansion and  contraction due to the nature of food processing and cleaning regimes. They are also often subject to high levels of chlorine – one of the few elements that can damage stainless steel which has not been passivated. This causes stress cracking and corrosion,” he explained.  

“Food manufacturers often ask suppliers to supply or replace tube without giving a full material specification.  This leaves them wide open to abuse as suppliers use cheaper tubing that is not just sub standard but not made for food production.  In one case we have seen car exhaust piping supplied!  

“While manufacturers will mark their tubing, UK stockholders often use third party polishers and this process removes the manufacturers’ marks. The material is then un-traceable and indistinguishable from exhaust or architectural tube.  In the event of a failure, food producers are left to carry the financial and reputational implications of contamination or breakdown.

The latest European Standard (EN10357) for food tubing demands that it is marked. However it leaves the choice of annealing and passivation to the purchaser – who may or may not have the knowledge or experience of food processing and stainless steel that is required to make the correct choice. 

“Versaline tube has been designed to reduce corrosion and stress cracking;all our tubes are marked with the manufacturing detail, so that the end customer can see that the material is a true food grade standard and that it can be traced back to us.

“The Versaline tube is pressure tested at the mill and undergoes all the processes that are required to make stainless steel a true hygienic and sustainable material – the way it was in years past.

“The piping is more robust, so increasing intervals between replacement.  Early tests have been positive so we are looking to roll it out across all our sectors as part of our ongoing commitment to customer service,” he added.  

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