Food processing units require a lot of chemical as well as physical raw materials that go through several procedures such as extraction, purification, emulsification, pasteurization, canning, filtration, drying etc. To make these procedures successful, every food processing unit requires equipment and apparatuses. Before assigning tasks to these instruments, they are assessed based on their cost, longevity, robustness and whether they are fit for the purpose. Apart from these factors, emphasis should be made on their hygiene and safety too.
Food processing units have a hygiene-critical environment and if the standards are compromised, it can take a heavy toll on consumers and land your company in costly food recalls and reputational damages.
Just like the instruments, their parts such as sprockets and bushings must be assessed too since they play an important role in keeping the machines together for work. Food processing bushings implement millions of cycles for transferring food and material. Therefore, here are some tips that will guide you for their selection.
1) Choose material that doesn’t swell-
Bushings made up of materials like non-food grade nylon and similar materials can easily absorb water and harvest bacteria. Microbiological contaminations can be hazardous for food processing units and can lead to food recalls. Therefore, bushing materials must be investigated before their use. However, choose only those thermoplastics that do not swell when it comes in contact with stagnant water.
2) Choose the right colors-
Brightly coloured bushings can contaminate food since the materials come in direct contact with the bushings and color can transfer from bushing to the food product. Therefore, bushings are mostly made of white color to ensure quality controllers that nothing foreign has entered the system that can change the color of the bushings and food.
3) Choose the ones that don’t require lubricants-
Lubricants are used for the smooth functioning of the bearings; therefore, food-grade lubricants can be safely used in the food processing plants without stressing over that they will contaminate the processed food with toxic chemicals. However, there are bushings and material handling equipment made up of materials like thermoplastic that does not require lubrication. This avoids food particles to trap into lubricating compounds and later pollute the production chain.
4) Choose those with better chemical resistance-
Equipment that is used regularly must be cleaned once every week. Cleaning the machines and their parts is important in the food processing industry. Ensure that the bushings that come in contact with food chemicals or cleaning chemicals should not degrade. If the machinery is easily degraded, it can require frequent repairs and replacements, causing money drains. Therefore, choose bushings made up of high chemical resistance material such as thermoplastics. Many other materials that have been preferred for bushings have shown chemical resistance over a range of acids and alkalis.
5) Choose the one with optimal operating range-
Steam cleaning procedures are advised for several food processing industries since they may use bushings made up of thermoplastics that can withstand high temperatures. Before opting for steam cleaning, experts should test the materials since some plastic bushings will melt when exposed to high temperatures.