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How to prioritise food safety within the confines of strict regulation

24 May 2019

Ask any production manager and you’ll hear the same thing: there is no greater priority in the food and beverage industry than food safety. With the average significant product recall claim currently at around £9 million without counting the associated brand damage, the damage caused by breaching food safety regulations is obvious.

However, reducing machine downtime, maximising factory output and limiting environmental impact are also high priorities in this industry, and it’s a challenge to prioritise all four areas without making compromises which impact other areas of the business. Here’s how you can succeed in all four areas.

Reduce potential for bacteria growth

To effectively prioritise food safety, potential for bacteria growth needs to be reduced to a minimum. Bacteria thrive in moist environments, making production lines an ideal home. If bearings aren’t effectively sealed, bacteria can enter bearings and multiply. Grease leakages and high pressure washdowns then spread these bacteria around the production line, contaminating other areas.

When selecting components for production line machinery, look for allergen-free components which are food-industry certified. Ensure that they are hygienically designed and effectively sealed, to minimise bacteria growth on your production line.

Look for components which are easy to clean, with features like a smooth surface and angled edges, to promote self-draining and allow bacteria to be washed away easily.

Increase production uptime

Completely eliminating all downtime from your business would be virtually impossible, but aiming for only planned downtime to perform proactive maintenance is achievable.

Ensure that all machine components are fit for purpose and aren’t overloaded in terms of load, speed and temperature. A good distributor will be happy to help you with this. Remember, a reduced initial outlay is tempting for your bottom line, but the price of failure could be high. 

Consider maintenance-free components such as lubrication-free bearings, which don’t require regular downtime for maintenance. Look for hygienically designed components with optically detectable parts to minimise downtime.

Eliminate relubrication requirements

Optimal lubrication maximises component life by reducing friction between moving parts and protecting against contamination and corrosion. However, grease often leaks from components during washdowns or as a result of seal damage, creating food hygiene issues.

To prevent any harmful effects of accidental ingestion to the consumer, food-grade lubrication should always be used. However, even when using these lubricants, it’s still important to prevent lubricant leakage.

Relubrication-free bearings are an effective way to reduce lubrication leakage, by removing the possibility of seal damage due to over-greasing. They also reduce maintenance requirements, saving resources and reducing the risk of contamination to the bearing.

Eliminating relubrication requirements also reduces the chance of machine breakdown due to lubrication issues, as 36% of premature bearing failures are due to poor lubrication practices.

Increase sustainability

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the food and beverage industry, but how can it be effectively prioritised without compromising on food safety, profits and production?

Firstly, limit your grease usage by using lubrication-free bearings. Lubricant production has a huge environmental impact, and the disposal of waste lubricant products causes pollution within the water system.

Try and choose sustainable products wherever possible. Ensure that every component that you select has been manufactured using sustainable methods, as well as being recyclable at the end of its service life.

Finally, choose quality products with a lengthy expected service life, taking measures to prevent premature failure. Extending bearing life reduces replacement frequency, meaning less components need to be manufactured and less waste goes into landfill.

SKF Food Line – Blue Range

SKF Food Line bearing units have been designed by experts in food production safety, with hygiene, productivity and sustainability at the forefront of the design process.

First and foremost, the new units showcase an exceptionally hygienic design, making them easy to clean and preventing bacteria from being harboured. Smooth, angled surfaces promote self-draining and easy sanitisation.

Superior bearing performance and outstanding reliability are synonymous with the SKF brand, and Food Line couples this with innovative sealing technology to deliver a further extension to bearing life. This helps to reduce downtime, optimise productivity and increase sustainability.

The ultra-hygienic design of these bearings means that 33% less water is required for cleaning. These units don’t contribute to landfill, as 59% of the unit is recyclable and 41% is energy-recovered. They are lubricated for life with food grade grease, so relubrication isn’t required.

The SKF Food Line range is available in a variety of styles to suit most applications, including pillow block, oval flange, square flange and take up units. They are manufactured with blue seals and housing material for easy optical detection.

Contact us today to find out how SKF Food Line bearing units could help you to prioritise food safety, without making unnecessary compromises.

Acorn Industrial Services Ltd.


Tel: 0800 8766 441

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