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Industrial Vacs in food industries

Industrial vacuum cleaners play a vital role in maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene in all the food processing areas. The applications in food and beverages industries can broadly be categorised into two types:

  • For general cleaning
  • For specialized cleaning (processing areas)

General Cleaning

Under general cleaning, the type of vacuum being used could be that for dry cleaning or wet cleaning or both.

Dry Vacs

This could be used in the cleaning of warehouse area, finished goods area or general lobby cleaning area. For dry applications, we need to use industrial dry vacuum cleaner with single phase in case of limited area of operation or three phase vacuum cleaners for continuous duty application.

The dry vacuum cleaners (single phase) primarily have cooled motors and hence, the air passing through keep them cool. These vacuums are portable and can easily be taken from one place to another.

Wet Vacs

The wet collection could be either spillages of water, lubricating oil or coolant on the floors in the processing areas. Industrial wet vacuum cleaners–single phase– are ideal for collection of wet spillages for limited area of operations. Whereas, industrial dry and wet-three phase vacuum cleaners are better for collection of wet and dry spillages for larger areas.

The single phase wet vacuums have bypass motors and hence should not be used for larger areas of operations. Industrial wet vacuum cleaners are also portable and can easily be taken from one place to another.

Specialised Applications

While selecting the industrial vacuum cleaner, one should select the right vacuum unit along with the right accessories.

As all food items generally tend to create static discharge when rubbed against any non conductive material, all the accessories used for collecting spillages in food industries should be anti-static (floor nozzle, flexible hose, rubber cone, dusting brush, filters). The machine should be flame proof properly grounded and earthed.

The type/size of vacuum unit along with the right accessories to be used depends on the following criteria:

The characterustics of material to be collected

  • If the material is very fine and the collection is very high – the cartridge filter in the vacuum unit should be equipped with automatic filter cleaning. If required one can use upstream or down stream HEPA filters.
  • If the material is very fine as well as hygroscopic or sticky, then it is necessary to use Teflon coated antistatic filters.
  • If the temperature of the material is very high (80 to 100 degree), then it is better to go for Gortex filters.

The amount of collection per hour/ per shift / per day

If the collection is very high, then the use of heavy duty and portable industrial vacuum cleaner with bigger hopper is necessary.

The need to collect the material and dispose off or recycle the same back into the process

If the material to be collected needs to be recycled and there is continuous spillages and collection required as there is very little space to manure the machine, then you need to use Centralised Vacuum System with automatic discharge hopper on the conveyor, silo, bucket elevator, etc., as per the need of the customer.

Centralised Vacuum System

If the processing area is hazardous or explosive, the type of vacuum cleaner will be specific. Broadly, the explosive areas have been classified into two – gas and dust. If it is gas then it could be either Zone 0, Zone 1 or Zone 2 and if it is dust it could be either Zone 20, Zone 21 or Zone 22.

There are specialised vacuum cleaners for cleaning these areas – ATTEX (Atmospheric Explosion) vacuum cleaners which can be electrically operated (flame proof motors) or pneumatically operated (compressed – air vacuum cleaners) without motors.

Specialised Pneumatic conveyors

These conveyors are used for transfer of material like roasted products in tea, coffee, milk powder, sugar and wheat powder.

The pneumatic conveyors work differently in comparison with the traditional systems (conveyors belt, scrolls). To transfer the product in the different points of the coffee plant, the conveyor system uses the principle of suction. Of small dimensions, this product can be placed everywhere according to the needs. The necessity to change the distance of the transfer points as well as the problem to transport the product from a room to another can be solved with the pneumatic conveyors systems.

In fact, material can be transferred simply by means of a hose. In this sector too, the hygiene is an aspect of considerable importance: the tools we suggest to convey the product are admitted for food uses. The material transfer rate could be from 300kg/hr to 3000kg/hr depending on the density of the material and the distance from the pick up point and the discharge point.

Collection of trims / wastages

There are specialised machines for collection of trims / wastages and continuous strips in the packaging area. R–Trim models are recommended to extract trim parts (paper, plastic and fibres) form the production or packaging machines. The industrial vacuum unit can be fitted on-line on the packaging machineries. It has got an inlet at the top and vacuum motor exactly at the bottom of the container. This helps in compressing the material to the bottom of the container and hence collection of trims, continuous packaging strips and wastages of large volumes. The vacuum unit comes with induction motor and hence can be used continuously for 24 hours and 365 days.

Centralised Vacuum System

In the production area for collection and recovery of material and discharge the same back into the system or dispose the same, centralised vacuum system can be installed.

On line collection of dust, powder, granules from various sources through centralised vacuum system and collecting the same into the hopper and discharge the collection back into the system.

The centralised vacuum system consists of a vacuum unit ‘1’ which creates vacuum inside the Hooper ‘2’ into the piping ‘3’ and ‘4’ and finally, into the hose & floor nozzle ‘5’. The material spilled on the floor is sucked into the nozzle through the hose ‘5’ into the piping ‘3’ & ‘4’ and discharged into the hopper ‘2’. From the hopper, the material can either be collected in big bag ‘6’ or back into the system ‘7’ for recycling.

The size of the system depends on the number of operator working at a time, the farthest distance of the material to be transferred, the rate of transfer required, the density of the material and the characteristics of the material. The system runs continuously 24×7 with automatic discharging, cleaning of filters through pulse jet cleaning at a desired frequency which can be set by the operator.

The piping could be of Zn plated, galvanized or SS connected by junction sleeves with smooth bends; conne

cted with spring loaded flap opening at the end coupled with a micro switch. This switch automatically starts the machine once the flap

is opened and shuts of the machine immediately when the flap is closed by the operator.

The vacuum system ranges for 2KW to 100KW with a transfer rate for 50 kg/hr to10 tonnes/hr depending on the requirement of the customers.

Amrut Bhadale,
National Head – Manufacturing,
Cleaning Technology Solutions – Forbes Professional-
Eureka Forbes Limited

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