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10 Approaches to Sanitary Design

02 Oct 2013
Andy Hansbrough, P.E.

The American Meat Institute generated a Fact Sheet related to Sanitary Equipment Design in 2008 which helps the OEM Machine builder to design sanitary solutions for the Food Processing and packaging market.  Our blog post today looks at the 10 sanitary design principles recommended by the AMI and how automation system design plays an important role.

1) Cleanable to a microbiological level:  This means you need to be able to really clean the machine - all the way to the microbiological level.  Keeping the machine as open as possible gets rid of those pesky nooks and crannies where armies of microorganisms like to camp out.  If you need to wash down your machine - you need to get to all parts of the machine easily and all places where bacteria can hide must be eliminated.  Consider using IP69K rated servo motors to drive the machines mechanism - this gets rid of protective housings that "close up" the machine making it extremely difficult to attack the invaders.

2) Made of compatible materials: make certain any materials used throughout the machine won't react with each other in some bizarre way.  Stainless steel is always a great choice as it plays nicely with a lot of other materials, water, and even most chemicals you might use in a wash down environment.

3) Accessible for Inspection, maintenance, cleaning, and sanitation: Similar to item 1 above - the more open the machine design can be, the more likely you will be very successful in keeping nasty stuff out.  We've seen numerous attempts to use unprotected or semi-protected servo motors on machines that require wash down.  So much effort is then put into designing special protective enclosures that start to "close up" the machine, defeating the principle of open design.

4) No product or liquid collection: Think round - everything with rounded edges and no indentations where liquid can pool.  Another area you should consider is with elements of your machine that might get hot - and then cool down.  As any meteorologist will tell you - this will cause condensate to release from the atmosphere on the surfaces.  Surfaces that are rounded will allow this condensate to drain away from the machinery.

5) Hollow areas should be hermetically sealed:  Eliminate any hollow frames or rollers from the machine if possible.  A well protected servo motor design, sealed and vented properly will keep the machine design simple and free from additional mechanical contraptions to protect such a device.

6) No niches:  What's a niche any way.  Niche derives from a middle French word nicher meaning nest.  Something you really do not want on your meat processing machine - a nest for bacteria to take root and grow.  Keep things round without any sharp corners or nooks and crannies that just might be ideal real estate for some nasty bacteria to set up shop.  Oh, and nooks and crannies is quite an interesting term as well, made famous by Thomas' English muffins!

7) Sanitary operational performance:  When the machine is running, it also needs to continue to operate with good hygiene.  For the most part, use of certain kinds of materials in seals and bearings will keep you safe on this front.  Anything that possibly could contribute to bacterial growth is a bad idea.

8) Hygienic design of maintenance enclosures: Certainly try and eliminate any enclosures you can, keeping the machine open.  It is also important to consider your HMI, switches, handles, push buttons, and other interfaces as well.  Considering a well-protected IP69K servo motor goes a long way in eliminating unnecessary housings or enclosures.  Also look for sealed HMI panels or touchscreens which are mounted on angles to encourage runoff.

9) Hygienic compatibility with other plant systems: Just make sure all systems play together nicely - Electrical, hydraulic, air, etc., etc.

10) Validated cleaning and sanitizing protocols:  It is always a great idea to document your processes and validate they do what you expect them to do.  Be certain that chemicals you are using for cleaning and sanitation works well with all your machine surfaces.  A proven IP69K servo motor solution utilizing stainless steel gives you the peace of mind that the motion control part of your machine is covered.

You can find the AMI Fact Sheet here.

Are you designing a machine that requires stringent hygiene specifications?  Comment below with your wash down nightmare and let's see if we can help find an answer!

About the Author

Andy Hansbrough, P.E.

Andy Hansbrough, P.E.
Andy Hansbrough is a licensed Professional Engineer, and has a BS in Industrial and Systems Engineering, and a MS in Manufacturing Systems (Industrial) Engineering from Virginia Tech.
In addition to his years of experience in high level positions with Kollmorgen, Thompson, and Danaher, Andy has contributed to industry publications surrounding the effects of motion control on designing and building packaging and processing machinery and is also a contributing member in PMMI. He has conducted extensive market research into the processes and needs of the entire packaging and processing industry value stream. You can reach Andy by clicking: Andy Hansbrough. You can also connect with this author at Google+

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