As an industry, food processing covers a lot of ground. It’s candy bars in wrappers, potato chips in bags, shrink-wrapped meat, and any number of prepared products in cans and boxes. It’s beverages, too, with production and bottling of everything from water to beer or wine in plastic, glass or aluminum containers. And these containers must be flawlessly sanitary.
Beyond food, there are the products we don’t eat but which still require food-grade processing facilities. Cosmetics and skin care products are good examples. There is no room in the production process for contamination of any kind. Processing equipment must be designed to assure maximum protection.
Not Just Any Cylinders Will Do
Two factors in particular directly affect a cylinder’s ability to perform and protect effectively, to reliably prevent potential problems with cross-contamination.
- The materials you use in the construction of the cylinder
- Simplicity of design
Stainless steel is a safe choice. It is exceptionally strong, heat/cold resistant, and impervious to water – all essential in washdown environments. Other materials must be coated or painted, eventually risking contamination when coatings chip or peel. Food-grade grease is also required.
Versatile Models and Options
Here at W.C. Branham, we manufacture a wide variety of pneumatic cylinders, several of which are ideal for food-processing environments. But there is another factor that frequently affects industrial equipment design — uniqueness. Although certain general considerations must be taken into account (size and shape of available space, food product and/or packaging requirements and limitations, etc.) the reality is that off-the-shelf cylinders may not be precisely right for your application.
This is one of those situations in which "almost" simply won't cut it. Equipment that works only pretty well is destined to malfunction, wear out faster, or cause other costly problems and production delays. Not-quite-right cylinders might also increase the risk of contamination. No company can remain competitive with that kind of production facility, especially in the food and beverage industry.
No worries, though. You can get exactly the cylinders you need.
Customization addresses every unique detail
Our in-house design and engineering experts love a good challenge. We can use standard parts to specially customize one of our existing cylinder models, or help you create a 100% custom product. As much as we love your challenges, we aren’t just sitting around waiting to hear from you, either. We’re constantly improving existing products and evaluating the most effective and efficient configurations for new ones.
For example, we’re currently working on the concept of a round body, smooth style cylinder for the food processing industry. With this configuration, there wouldn’t be any joints or crevices to trap contaminants. Even using high-pressure washdowns, it can be hard to clean out the tiniest particles or microbes from grooves and corners. An entirely smooth surface would eliminate that problem.
So stay tuned. Meanwhile, if you need a recommendation on the best cylinders for your food processing application, we're always happy to help.