In response to food industry demands for equipment that adheres to strict safety and hygiene requirements without compromising product quality, SEEPEX has developed a new hygienic progressive cavity (PC) pump range. The BCFH range is the first to be certified by the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group under its new testing regime.
Founded by Unilever 30 years ago, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) is a global consortium of over 400 food process equipment manufacturers whose aim is to ensure the hygienic design of process equipment.
It publishes guideline documents and sets best practice, as well as certifying equipment that meets the very highest standards of food hygiene. It provides a globally recognised test method for establishing the cleanability of closed hygienic equipment, using a specified cleaning and testing regime.
EHEDG certification guarantees residue-free cleaning at a lower temperature, with lower chemical concentration and with a shorter cleaning time than is normal for other cleaning-in-place (CIP) solutions used in the food industry.
As well as giving end-users peace of mind that their closed equipment is microbiologically clean, equipment designed to this standard typically require 76% less cleaning time, saving on water, detergent and energy.
High cost of poor hygiene
Product safety is a key concern for food and drink manufacturers. Contamination by micro-organisms such as bacteria, moulds and yeasts is an ever-present risk, meaning that effective hygiene and cleaning regimes are essential to prevent the build-up of microbes in the processing environment, particularly in enclosed systems.
The financial consequence of ignoring this threat is significant – the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies puts the average cost of a recall for a food company at $10m or more in direct costs, business interruption, brand damage and lost sales.
At the same time, it is also essential that adherence to safety and hygiene does not adversely affect the quality of a product. The challenge, therefore, is designing cleaning regimes and equipment that provide the best possible hygienic solutions to ensure product safety without comprising on quality. This is exactly what SEEPEX has designed the BCFH progressive cavity pump range to achieve.
Meeting tough standards
The test methods for EHEDG certification are extremely rigorous: in order to meet the required standard, SEEPEX’s BCFH pumps were used to process food that had been inoculated with microbes. The pumps were then cleaned at a lower temperature than is normal for standard CIP, before being stripped down and tested, to ensure every microbial trace had been removed.
Recent changes to the EHEDG certification process have made the test even more rigorous, as well as more transparent. Certification is now only valid for five years, and results are also reviewed by independent EHEDG inspectors, in addition to those that carry out the original tests.
SEEPEX is the first company to gain EHEDG certification for newly developed, hygienic, progressive cavity pumps under this revised testing process. The new testing procedures will now be a requirement for all EHEDG-certified companies by 2020, ensuring that certification continues to provide end-users with complete confidence and peace of mind that the closed equipment they are using meets the highest possible level of hygienic design.
Ensuring brand reputation
As an established supplier of hygienic PC pumps for a wide range of applications involving product transfer with high-care requirements, SEEPEX understands that food processors must be able to rely on the hygienic qualities of their equipment to produce safe, high quality products. Not only does this help to reduce waste and lower production costs, it also protects both the public and the brand’s reputation.
Hygienic pump design must encompass not only the materials used to construct the pump itself, but also its cleanability, including surfaces and rotating components. To ensure effective cleaning using CIP there must be no areas that are structurally difficult to clean and no food or microbial residues remaining after cleaning, as these will contaminate subsequent production. Automated product transfer must also be possible without any detrimental effect on product quality, either physically or microbiologically.
Preserving product integrity
Thanks to their low shear action, SEEPEX’s PC pumps do not affect a product’s physical quality; even sensitive products such as yogurts, cream cheese, whipped cream or other colloidal mixes. Equally, they can efficiently pump viscous and sticky products, as well as those containing soft solids such as fruit or vegetable pieces.
Furthermore, when used for dosing, PC pumps produce a low pulsation flow that has linear proportionality to the pump speed, allowing for easy calibration and greater accuracy. This maintains product quality, even when using a variable raw material.
In addition, the use of PC pumps can help manufacturers to lower their production costs. Alternatives such as rotary lobe or twin-screw pumps create shear, which affects consistency.
Additives are then needed to compensate for this shear to ensure that sensitive products, such as yogurts, regain their original consistency. Food producers using low shear PC pumps do not need to pay out for such additives.
Increased cleaning abilities
All SEEPEX hygienic PC pumps have a special surface finish and are designed to be dead-space free to prevent product from collecting in the pump. However, the company’s new hygienic BCFH pump range has a titanium flexible rod as the rotating unit, which is corrosion resistant and low maintenance. Containing no joints, the rotating unit is detachable from both the rotor and the plug-in drive shaft, making maintenance easier.
Pumps in the BCFH range also have a split suction casing, designed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) which analysed liquid flow patterns, as Norman Dicks, Product Range Development Team Leader at SEEPEX, explains: “The use of CFD identified improvements that could be made to the suction casing inlet, to produce ‘swirl flow’ which guides the CIP fluid to all areas of the pump, creating more efficient cleaning of all surfaces.
It also means that less aggressive cleaning fluids can be used, which increases the pump’s lifetime, improves environmental acceptability and makes it better suited for food products. This is the first time we have used CFD and thanks to the enhanced cleaning capabilities it brings, the BCFH pump range was able to meet the stringent demands of EHEDG testing, achieving Type EL Class 1 certification,” concludes Norman.