A key challenge in the food processing industry is safety regulation compliance. NACE International, the world’s leading corrosion control organization estimates that the food industry spends approximately $2.1 billion annually on corrosion-related costs. Corrosion containment is essential for preventing sanitation and product safety problems and ensuring food processing machinery reliability.
Prevention methods include strategic facility design and selection of proper materials for enclosures used to protect electrical components.
Materials used in food processing facilities should be able to withstand exposure to corrosive elements. For example, stainless steel should not be used in salt or chlorine environments and aluminum should not be used in environments where mineral acids are used.
Food and beverage manufacturers are beginning to make the switch to enclosures made of thermoplastic or composite fiberglass NEMA 4X construction because the water, caustic, acid and bleach that are regularly used during the cleaning process often damages stainless steel enclosure options.
According to James Franklin, plant engineer Abita Brewery, “Non-metallic enclosures cost less; in addition, they are lighter in weight, so we save on shipping.” The brewer of Purple Haze and Big Easy IPA brands is now requesting that all control panels on new equipment purchases be made of non-metallic construction.
Franklin also explained that a pry bar had to be used on an OEM metallic control enclosure to open it after the 3-point latch mechanism had become “frozen”.
The brewery has installed Stahlin non-metallic enclosures. According to Franklin, “Stahlin performs factory modifications to our specs, but we also do a great deal of field modifications to accommodate distribution, starters, drives, and other automation. “The enclosures are much easier to modify using conventional tools.”
Long-term reliability can be found with other types of enclosures, but fiberglass-reinforced plastic enclosures offer greater product performance and service life in a wide range of food processing-related corrosive applications. The fiberglass-reinforced plastic enclosures withstand extreme conditions, are minimally affected by impact, and offer temperature, moisture, and greater overall corrosion resistance against numerous environmental challenges.
“Low cost, workability, durability, and performance make non-metallic enclosures for our environment a no brainer,” Franklin concluded.