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The latest in valve technology

19 August 2015

Food Processing caught up with five leading valve manufacturers to discover the latest news and technology in the sector.

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Burkert’s valve range
Burkert’s valve range

Bürkert Fluid Control Systems: CIP and hygiene
With hygiene being of utmost importance to the food industry, implementing an effective cleaning process that delivers the required hygienic standards requires expertise in valve design and process control techniques. It is important that design and process engineers understand the importance of design both in terms of the pipework and the control valves, as has been evidenced by IFS Food Audits, which scrutinise the cleaning and disinfection processes to ensure that they provide effective coverage. For many, this will involve CIP methods to ensure the safety of the manufacturing facility, and controlling these processes reliably and effectively requires the use of automated control valves that are integrated with the main production control system and are designed to withstand high temperatures and aggressive cleaning media.

CIP or SIP systems are designed for automatic cleaning and disinfecting without major disassembly of the process line. Initial assessments of a system should identify the influencing factors such as temperature, pressure and cleaning media properties, all of which will affect the design of the control valves, especially the valve body material, internal valve seat and seals, where reliable operation will require chemical resistance properties. 

Bürkert has a comprehensive range of valve body, valve seat and seal materials that can be utilised in both caustic and acidic detergent regimes, while also capable of operating at higher temperatures. Materials include high grades of stainless steel combined with various plastics such as PVC-HT, PP/PE, PA, PTFE, PVDF, PPS and PEEK, depending on the acidity alkalinity or temperature of the medium and the cleaning fluid. 

Effective CIP/SIP processes initially require careful design of the process pipework that eliminates any dead legs and split routes while minimising the number of ‘T’ joints. In this way, every surface within the process pipework receives equal coverage, and is coupled with an integrated control system that allows the cleaning processes to be coordinated with the manufacturing process to maximise productivity while preventing cross-contamination. 

Bürkert can test cleaning cycles and provide 100% reliability on the flow properties and cleanability of a complete valve assembly by using a riboflavin test rig. In hygiene applications where CIP is operated, it’s essential to be able to ensure the cleaning cycle is both effective and efficient, a criterion which can be fulfilled by Bürkert.

Bürkert has a wide range of valve and valve actuators that can suit every application. Their product range includes innovative modular valve bodies, such as the Type 2000 INOX valve which can be close coupled and assembled into flexible, lightweight and cost-effective manifolds that reduce the volume of connecting pipes substantially. They can be used with the latest Element actuators with smooth stainless bodies designed for washdown environments, offering excellent control and precision with minimal installation costs.

Flowrox: Peristaltic pumps
Peristaltic pumps are finding niche applications in the food and drink sector, thanks to their ability to handle abrasive high solid content mediums, to pump up to 80% solids or higher, and for being a natural choice when dealing with corrosive chemicals because the only component in contact with the flowing medium is the hose or tube. The pump housing does not need to be made of exotic alloys because the hose or tube protects the housing from the corrosiveness of the medium.

Flowrox LPP-T Eccentric Shaft Rolling Design Peristaltic Pump with only one compression per revolution
Flowrox LPP-T Eccentric Shaft Rolling Design Peristaltic Pump with only one compression per revolution

Peristaltic pumps have been installed in wineries, fisheries and agriculture sites. They have been used to pump live fish and also whole strawberries. The peristaltic pump does not crush the material being pumped through it, rather it creates a wave ahead the roller which the solids ride on and are delivered out of the pump. Peristaltic pumps are very low shear devices, and in potato and carrot production, peristaltic pumps have been utilised to pump a mixture of carrot and potato skins. 

Crisp manufacturing plants have utilised Flowrox rolling design peristaltic pumps to pump lime for corn cracking and another application for delivering a mixture of mineral oil and seasonings for flavouring crisps. A rolling design peristaltic pump uses a single roller on an offset drive shaft to roll over the hose to deliver the flow. The design compresses the hose only once per revolution, which extends hose life by more than two times a shoe or multiple roller design. Also a single roller design requires only a small amount of food grade glycerine to lubricate the interior of the pump. Shoe design peristaltic pumps require approximately five times more glycerine to lubricate and cool this type of peristaltic pump. 

Beer manufacturers have also installed peristaltic pumps for beer mash and yeast. They are excellent for controlling the flow rate leaving the pump. It’s a positive displacement device and delivers the same flow every revolution. Simply by speeding up or slowing down the pump, the flow can be controlled very accurately. 

Rolling designs have very low maintenance costs as typically the only repair is the replacement of the hose or tube. In most cases, this can be accomplished in a few minutes on smaller designs, to up to an hour for a larger peristaltic pump. The hose is a fraction of the cost of a new pump and typically only requires periodic replacement.

Festo: The new NAMUR generation
Festo have launched their new generation of NAMUR valves, which are modern, durable and more cost-effective than previous models, providing more value in all process automation applications. The valve range offers a choice of coils that are suitable for many applications, including food processing. Coils are available with intrinsic safety as well as other protection methods such as non-sparking and encapsulated protection all to IEC EX (ATEX). 

“The VSNC valve is also ideal for dirty environments due to its re-breather function,” says Jacqui Hanbury, Product Marketing Manager at Festo. “This feature allows the clean compressed air to be fed back to the spring chambers within the valve ensuring that the dirty air is kept out, which increases the life span of the product. In addition, this can work in reverse in a clean or food environment, allowing the compressed air from inside the valve to not reach the clean environment around it.”

Both 3/2 or 5/2 way functions are offered by the new valve range, achieved not by changing the seal as is most common, but by rotating one single seal. There are no additional seals sent with the product that have to be kept safe until required. With the VSNC, the function can be quickly and easily changed with no additional parts, which means that machine builders and maintenance engineers can reduce stock and associated costs as they are now able to carry a single valve for use across a wide range of applications. Festo also supply two separate labels so that the valves can be correctly labelled in the field dependent on the functionality used.

Festo’s next generation Namur valve
Festo’s next generation Namur valve

Other benefits that the VSNC offers is robustness, flow rates of 1000 1/min and an extended temperature range of -20°C to 60°C. Coils are available in seven different voltages, including AC and DC variants and with IP65 protection.

The valves are available in two versions; a standard unit with plastic covers and a brass solenoid armature tube, or a second valve with stainless steel solenoid armature tube and an aluminium body. 

“While Festo has been offering NAMUR valves within its product range for many years, this new VSNC valve is particularly exciting,” says Hanbury. “The robust, high quality product is now available at an excellent price and with two versions with multiple coils, it offers a wider range than any previous valves available from Festo.”

Albion Valves: WRAS approval
Albion Valves have recently secured approval from the UK’s Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS) for their solenoid valve range, making them compliant for potable water applications across industry and process sectors, including the food and drink industry.

Any water fittings that are utilised to either carry or receive water from the UK mains supply needs to comply with WRAS and meet stringent safety standards. The WRAS testing cycle for valves includes 200,000 tests on both hot and cold water applications, and WRAS approval is an established sign of quality, as UK water authorities are legally bound to only accept WRAS approved products for their applications.

A solenoid is an electromechanically operated valve that is controlled by a magnetic current. The simple and unique design offers fast and safe switching and high reliability, making them one of the most commonplace ranges of valves in the UK water and building services industries. 

“Solenoids are a product line that our distributors require again and again, and as such we have introduced WRAS approved solenoids, offering them even greater choice,” says Les Littlewood, Albion Sales Director. “We also stock WRAS approved ball and butterfly valves, commonly used for behind the scenes building installations, such as controlling the filling of water tanks and main circuit isolation. The latest addition to our portfolio extends a more comprehensive range of potable water products to our distributors and will also help us to grow our presence in this sector.”

SMC Pneumatics’ SY valve
SMC Pneumatics’ SY valve

SMC Pneumatics: New SY valve for food and drink
The nature of the way people shop today has changed since the recession and credit crisis. Consumers are moving away from established retailers like Sainsbury, Tesco and Morrisons to buy their groceries from newer, low cost discounters such as Aldi and Lidl. The result of this migration of consumer has resulted in immense pressure within these businesses to reduce costs, which in turn is feeding through to food processors and producers who are looking for new ways to increase productivity and improve profitability in their production sites by adopting new and innovative products.

To help manufacturers, SMC have recently extended its SY directional control range to meet some of these industry needs. Improving OEE is recognised as one of the key metrics to help improve productivity and is based on three elements: availability, performance and quality. The new SY addresses these elements with its class leading spool life of 70 million cycles for rubber spool and 200 million cycles for metal spool so food processors and producers are now able to ensure that their equipment is available to produce product for the maximum amount of time. Operational performance is also improved, thanks to SMC’s unique hot swop valve function when an unforeseen failure occurs. The faulty valve can be replaced without having to dump the compressed air from the machine, thereby ensuring that a potentially valuable batch of product is not lost or wasted.

High inventory costs can restrict businesses by reducing their available capital to invest in new initiatives or plant to help increase productivity. SMC’s new SY valve allows production sites to standardise on just one valve range, which is capable of powering most onsite applications, reducing inventory cost and freeing up cash flow. 

The SY valve is also energy efficient, with a power consumption of just 0.1W. Electricity costs are reduced and because new SY valves generate very little heat due to their power consumption, control cabinets do not need to be fitted with a cooler. And with an eye to the future, the SY valve is capable of being expanded in additional one at a time slices, and can be ordered by what is needed by the job, rather than in multiples of four which cuts down on the additional cost and expense of larger control cabinets.

Multiple porting options through the side, top and bottom of the valve manifold offer increased flexibility in terms of mounting and control cabinet design and, in many cases, these options can help reduce the need for additional control cabinet bulkheads and fittings.

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