Servo Motors In Washdown Areas:
Purposed Drive Durability
Producing wholesome quality food is challenging work. In addition to designing and manufacturing
creative and tasty products, a laser focus
on food safety is necessary for food
processing companies to survive and
thrive. Effective sanitation of machinery
and facilities is critical in the production of
safe food products.
Sanitation In Food
Sanitation procedures are as varied
as the food choices we have in our
society. Each food production facility
must evaluate the possible points
where products may become spoiled or
contaminated. Evaluation and procedures
to guard against problems are included
in a series of documents entitled
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control
Points (HACCP). Procedures for cleaning
machinery and facilities are also included
in the HACCP documents.
Machinery must be sanitized so that it
is not only visually clean, but also clean
on a microbiological level on a daily basis.
In a typical “ready-to-eat” meat facility,
food is produced for 16 hours and then
a third eight-hour shift is devoted to
cleaning the machinery. The cleaning
procedure includes a number of steps,
1. Bulk food debris is removed manually
with high-pressure air or water.
2. Equipment is pre-rinsed with
3. Caustic foam having either basic
or acidic properties is applied to
the entire machine and walls of
4. Foamed surfaces are manually
scrubbed as necessary to remove any
5. Flood rinsing with warm water is used
on the machinery to remove the foam
and remaining product.
6. Equipment surfaces are swabbed to
test and confirm that the equipment is
clean. If surfaces fail the test, all or a
portion of the cleaning procedures will
be repeated on that equipment.
7. Chemically active sanitizing agents
are applied to the machinery.
8. Cool water is used to thoroughly rinse
9. Final tests to ensure the equipment is
microbiologically clean are conducted.
10. USDA inspectors verify procedures
and cleanliness of equipment.
While procedures vary depending
upon the type of food being produced,
these procedures are repeated on a daily
basis, and any equipment used in these
manufacturing areas should be purpose-
designed to withstand these cleaning
procedures. Electrical equipment used in
these washdown areas present a problem
because of the continual use of large
amounts of water, harsh chemicals and
the temperature cycles that occur for
electrical equipment during alternating
production and washdown periods. Even
more challenging than electrical products
that can be fully sealed are electric
motors that require an effective seal
around a rotating shaft.
Component attributes are important
for the purpose-design of electric motors
in washdown areas. The seal, cable
gland and connector components used
for these areas need to be selected or
designed carefully. The components must
endure not only incidental contact with
water, cleaning agents and sanitizer, but
must also be able to endure direct high-pressure spray and daily contact with
Materials used in the motor body
and cable jacket are important as well.
For the motor body and shaft, stainless
steel alloys like 316L provide excellent
corrosion resistance in this environment.
Coated motors or other treatments tend
The best solution for applying electric motors in washdown areas is to use
motors that are purpose-engineered to withstand daily cleanings.