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Keeping cables and conduits and clean

19 November 2017

Strict hygiene and cleanliness requirements apply to all equipment used in the food processing environment, including electrical components, cables and trunking. Food Processing finds out about a cleaning solution that utilises dry steam. 

Cables need to be resistant to a wide range of chemicals, both thermal and physical stresses and extremes of temperature and damp environments. Cables not designed for use within these extreme environments can lead to production downtimes as well posing a fire hazard.  

Because hygiene is the number one factor within the food and beverage industry, cables and accessories are more often than not designed and manufactured to be resistant to the aggressive industrial cleaning and alkali agents that are commonly used for cleaning. However, cables and trunking are still notoriously difficult to clean properly and effectively which causes a great deal of frustration to both hygiene managers and engineers. 

Cables invariably need to be close to machinery and so traditional cleaning methods often do not apply. The resulting soiling around these cables can become a breeding ground for microbial problems or pest infestation. For example, a cable situated in moist conditions for any length of time will inevitably become mouldy. In high-care areas for ready meal production or sandwich production lines, cleaning is usually carried out using foam detergent and sanitisers. This is ideal for standard plant cleaning but often operators will often leave cables and trunking in place, again risking the cables going mouldy over time.  There is the potential for this to lead to a full and costly re-wiring of the system as the damp provides an ideal atmosphere for bacterial growth. 

Dry environment risks
Similarly, a ‘dry’ environment carries its own risk factors. A warm, dry production plant provides the ideal breeding ground for moths and beetles – the warm dry atmosphere is ideal for their growth in dry food including but not limited to bakery products, biscuits, basic dry ingredients, dried food and all other ambient food production sites. In the majority of these sites, cleaning is currently carried out by air lines or vacuum as most water-based systems cause more problems than they solve. However, this does not solve the original problem.

Dry steam can offer a solution. OspreyDeepclean has worked with a variety of food producers offering solutions in both high-care and low-care areas and for ambient dried food producers; providing dry steam as a cleaning and sanitation tool.  

Dry-steam may initially sound like a contradiction. However, by applying further heat to conventional steam and super heating it to 180°C, any remaining water is vapourised making the steam ‘dry’. It is this dry steam that can offer a cleaning and sanitation solution in both moist and dry environments alike. 

The OspreyDeepclean system requires minimal tooling, in addition to a steam machine. A detail nozzle on the end of the hose enables the unit to be used for a variety of cleaning tasks and for cable and trunking cleaning. The addition of a brush onto the end of the nozzle protects it from coming into contact with the cable. Gentle agitation by the operator removes any additional soiling and breaks any biofilms and, after cleaning, any residual steam and/or soiling that remains on the cables or surfaces can be wiped away, vacuumed or allowed to fall onto the floor for removal by another method.  

OspreyDeepclean has conducted a scientific study to measure the efficacy of its dry steam cleaning solution. The technology was initially tested within hospital environments by the TNO, an independent research facility in the Netherlands. The findings of this research were applied to other market sectors – most notably the food processing and food manufacturing industries. OspreyDeepclean works closely with Campden BRI who has provided validation of its dry steam technology for the positive removal of allergens from surfaces.  

As a cleaning tool dry steam is much less aggressive than other more commonly employed sanitation procedures. This, in turn, means that equipment lasts longer and operates more reliably.  There are also no chemical requirements which means there is no limit to the materials and surfaces that it can be used on.

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