Industrial Food & Beverage Processing Machinery: Tracing Polymer Seals & Materials Technologies

The need for industrial food processing machinery is on the rise worldwide. Stimulated by an increased demand for processed and packaged food from developing countries such as India and China, as well as the shift towards automation technologies mediated by the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Industry 4.0 to drive up productivity and regulate the quality, traceability and sanitation of processed foods.

Industrial Food & Beverage Processing Machinery: Tracing Polymer Seals & Materials Technologies

Image Credit: Saint-Gobain Seals

Market Data Forecast states, “the global food processing machinery market was valued to be USD 52.37 billion in 2020, and it is estimated to reach a valuation of USD 74.44 billion by the end of 2025, expanding at a CAGR of 6.1% during this forecast period.”

With the passing of new regulations by government agencies and private organizations and innovations in automation technologies, the fact that the food and beverage processing industry is going through a considerable transformation globally comes as no surprise.

The evolution seems appropriate as these kinds of machines are primarily geared toward the transformation of food, for example improving the taste, look, feel and absorption, as well as extending and preserving the shelf life.

Today, baked goods, meat products, dairy goods and beverages are made within seconds because of the availability of food processing technologies and machinery that reduce processing time, while improving the efficiency of manufacturing operations.

Food processing equipment is commonly clustered by function, including:

  • Heat processing
  • Mechanical processing
  • Packaging
  • Preparation
  • Preservation 

Industrial Food & Beverage Processing Machinery: Tracing Polymer Seals & Materials Technologies

Image Credit: Saint-Gobain Seals

The variety of food processing machinery is enormous in scope and tends to be split according to equipment type, application type, mode of operation type and region.

Manufacturing businesses such as Saint-Gobain Seals assist the food and beverage processing industry by providing crucial and precise components for these machines.

Under the motto, ‘think globally, deliver locally,' Saint-Gobain Seals is focused on delivering consistent quality solutions from strategically located manufacturing locations around the globe and simultaneously, fulfill country-specific regulations and certifications.

Composed mostly of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) based resins, Saint-Gobain Seals develop, engineer and manufacture polymer seals and material solutions such as Fluoroloy® and Rulon® fluoropolymer compounds.

Designed to perform across a wide range of extreme applications (including in space!), there are over 100 standards Fluoroloy® and Rulon® grades available, many of which are EU1935/2004 compliant, FDA compliant and USP Class VI certified, meaning they are appropriate for food and beverage equipment applications.

Saint-Gobain Seals’ solutions portfolio offers rotary lip seals, spring-energized seals and polymer solutions that can be utilized in the processing of meat, dairy, poultry and seafood; baking; confectionary; and packaging equipment, including cryogenic freezing equipment where temperatures plummet down to around -160 °C (-256 °F); as well as carbon fiber composites for aluminum beverage can manufacturing. Appropriate safe handling and contamination control is crucial and powerful motivators in the food equipment industry where public health and safety is concerned. Rulon® and Fluoroloy® compliant materials are remarkably effective in applications including baking, steaming, grilling and vacuum drying processes owing to their non-stick processing surface. 

The PTFE-based materials offer a clean, consistent and durable sealing solution, solving any issues with sticking, cleaning and contamination of food and dried ingredients. Accuracy is key in the function of food processing equipment and Saint-Gobain Seals’ solutions delivers benefits that include improved productivity, limited downtime and cost-efficiency. 

A number of key benefits of Fluoroloy® and Rulon® sealing and polymer solutions are listed below: 

  • Dimensional stability even in wet beverage and sanitation baths
  • Food-contact compliance with appropriate industry standards
  • Improved sanitation via self-lubricating design eliminates manual lubrication
  • Seal designs appropriate for withstanding abrasive food ingredients
  • Sensible lead times
  • Wide temperature ranges from boiling oil to flash freeze 

Rulon® 641 bearings are commonplace in this industry because of their supreme load and wear characteristics. They also offer exceptional, continuous non-lubricated service up to 10,000 PV and even greater for intermittent service.

The polymer material is suitable for use with a variety of mating surfaces, including mild steel, 304 and 316 stainless steel, as well as tougher materials, which make it the optimal choice for the majority of food and pharmaceutical bearing applications. It does not deteriorate during cleaning operations. 

Rulon® 641 bearings are deployed in numerous food processing applications, including fryers where hot oils present a challenge. Rulon® 641 components can withstand high temperatures and they are manufactured using proprietary FDA and USDA compliant materials, making them advantageous in high heat applications. 

Due to consumers’ need for convenience in consumption, handling, and storage over other fresh food products, the food and beverage processing industry is becoming popular and scaling-up production globally. 

At present, the North American market makes-up the major share with the Asia Pacific market expected to show rapid growth in the immediate future due to a projected increase in demand in the Chinese market over the next decade. 

As a result of this growth, Saint-Gobain Seals has acted accordingly, scheduling significant operations in India and China – presently supporting central industrial customers such as fuel dispensers and compressors – where their local technical teams are ready to assist with material knowledge and engineering expertise.

Saint-Gobain

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Saint-Gobain Seals.

For more information on this source, please visit Saint-Gobain Seals.

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