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Selecting the right hygienic pumping solution

The food and beverage industries remain important contributors to the manufacturing and fastmoving consumer goods (FMCG) sectors, as well as the local economy. However, food and beverage manufacturers are some of the most highly regulated (and penalised) businesses – and rightly so, given the impeccable standards of process and product quality, and safety, that must be maintained to protect consumers and end-users.

Cucumbers on a food production line

Added to this, modern consumer tastes and corporate retail demands for new flavours, fashions and fads has created a demand for ever-greater quantity of product lines. This demand runs somewhat contrary to the operation of traditional dedicated process lines where there is one pipe-run for one product.

In fact, previously, if a company wanted to produce more lines of products, they needed to build more production lines, recommission an existing line or suffer downtime cleaning and turning around a line in operation. However, modern production facilities – particularly in food and beverage production – have moved from a dedicated production line for each product to an innovative multi-product line which could be processing several different food stuffs, liquids or slurries every day.

This has placed a lean, flexible manufacturing process as the engine of a successful operation – and the manufacturing process needs to be consistent and reliable to accommodate perishable ingredients, storage, short-lead times for retail clients and, of course, maintain a safe and hygienic production line. As a result, production efficiencies and product quality remain key performance indicators for food and beverage manufacturers.

There are challenges with the multi-product line approach that every production manager will invariably face. For instance, deciding on how best to manage the transition of one product to another when using the same line for batch production. A potential hazard to a multi-product line approach is cross-contamination, which can result in spoiled product, shorter shelf-life, production downtime and risks to employees during the cleaning process.

Additionally, a multi-product line can increase the exposure risk to microbes, which present an ever-looming threat to food and beverage manufacturers. For instance, with the current consumer trends in food, the sector has seen an increase in favouring fresh, flavourful, easy-to-prepare foods, with little sugar, salt, and less to no preservatives added – however this makes it difficult to keep microbes out of the food. Linked to this, the directives from the European Hygienic Engineering Design Groups (EHEDG), which are intended to prevent contamination, include a directive stating that every part of the production line should be accessible for cleaning.

Therefore, to produce high-quality products, and reduce waste, throughout the production process it is important to have an environment that meets and exceeds the hygienic standards. This of course requires machines that are 100% reliable and equipment that is safe, all while allowing for optimum production performance. And, selecting the right pumping solutions – that will perform optimally while still handling the products with care and meeting today’s clean in place (CIP) and sterilisation in place (SIP) hygiene standards – is critically important!

A poorly designed pump system can lead to high consumption of power and premature wear or failure of components in the system – as this is not isolated to the pump itself – and can impact on instrumentation, piping, valves and ancillary equipment too. There is also the risk of a complete plant stoppage – and excessive breakdowns have the potential to increase the risk to personnel, as emergency repairs will have to be carried out over-and-above routine planned maintenance.

A pump used on a food production line
Big Fish: pompen Packo, Diksmuide

It should also be noted that any of these possible scenarios are guaranteed to increase labour costs and inventory of spare parts, leading to production costs being driven up and therefore increased cost of the product manufactured.

With this in mind, the right pump for the application should be selected based on the following considerations:

  • The pump is made of the highest materials quality – and consider the material make-up of the pumping system to the product being pumped (i.e. electropolished stainless steel or centrifugal pumps that offer clean-in-place (CIP) technology)
  • The pump design or technology should be suitable for the product being transported
  • Suitable pump design for the duty cycle required
  • The pump itself and the system design must allow for efficient operation – that the pump is selected to operate at the best efficiency point on the performance curve – and suitably for the multi-product line
  • The speed of the pump on duty point – and that the pipe work is designed around correct velocities
  • Power supply is adequately sized, and correct switch gear is utilised
  • The correct valves are in the system – and in the correct positions

We understand that navigating the technical obstacles of selecting the right pumping solutions for specific applications can be complex. Food and beverage manufacturers therefore need to look to a trusted and reputable brand that can offer not only a wide range of pumping solutions, but solutions that are long-lasting, cost-effective and efficient – because they are 100% fit-for-purpose for the application. 

Author: Darryl Macdougall, Managing Director, Verder Pumps South Africa



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