Compressed air is an important part of the food packagi […]
Compressed air is an important part of the food packaging and processing industries in America and around the globe. Different segments of the food industry have different applications for compressed air. For example, the U.S. fruit and vegetable processing industry, whose manufacturing plants primarily can, freeze, and dehydrate fruits and vegetables, use air compressor systems to conveniently clean containers before filling, sorting, and packaging their produce.
There are thousands upon thousands of factories in other segments of the food industry that use compressed air day in and day out. One frequently seen operation using compressed air is blow-off applications (for example, blowing crumbs from loaves of bread before being bagged). Other businesses, like the fruit and vegetable processing industry, use air compressors to clean containers that will be holding food. In addition, compressed air is used to sort, cut, and shape certain food products.
Another application found in the dairy and juice industries using compressed air has to do with the machines that form, fill, and seal gable-top cartons. These particular machines need to be constantly washed to maintain satisfactory sanitation as they are exposed to water as well as harsh chemical cleaners and sodium potassium hydroxide. Pneumatic systems are preferred over hydraulic systems because, in wet environments, the possibility of leaked oil on a polished tile floor is a serious safety hazard that must be avoided. Furthermore, pneumatic systems require comparatively little maintenance compared to their hydraulic siblings.
Air that is compressed through pneumatics is used in a wide range of pressures in the food industry - up to seven hundred fifty psi for blow molding and, on the low end, fifteen psi for blow-off applications.
Contaminant-Free Air Compression
It's important to note that air which is compressed must be free of any contaminants - water vapor and moisture, solid particulates (like spores), and oil aerosols and vapors - before it's used in any application in the food industry. Moisture is the primary cause for concern because it creates an ideal habitat for microorganisms and fungi, but their growth can be easily inhibited by keeping pressure dew points below -15°F; solid particulates are removed with filtration products in the pneumatic system itself; and compressed air dryers and filters are used to take care of oil aerosols and vapors.
Pneumatic air systems play an important supporting role in the food industry and, with a little care to remove contaminants from the system, requires very little upkeep and potentially costly downtime.