The Mepaco®’s Field Services and Engineering Team have been on hundreds of calls for all types of food processing equipment service. Seal issues are one of the common requests for service. Here’s the top 3 trouble signs for split seal types and how to troubleshoot repair.
The Trouble Signs:
The Possible Problem:
Grooved or Broken Shaft
A worn shaft may cause a loss of vacuum in your equipment. Depending on the space available and the extent of the damage, a worn shaft may be repaired on-site. Ignoring a grooved shaft can lead to a broken shaft resulting in a catastrophic failure. The timeline to order a replacement shaft may take weeks. Even if there is an extra shaft in inventory, there is a minimum of two days of lost production to replace it. If you suspect a grooved shaft, call Mepaco®’s Field Services to troubleshoot the issue.
Worn Seals and Missing Packing
Seals should be checked for wear and sanitized daily. Seals should also be part of your preventative maintenance program, with two to four extra seals in your parts inventory, depending on usage. Changing the seal during scheduled times will help save lost production; instead of shutting down production to replace a seal.
Seals must be correctly installed with recommended packing. Check to make sure that the seal housing is within tolerance. Revisit the documentation for seal installation instructions. If you have new staff, ask for a training session by Mepaco®’s Field Services experts to have them watch and advise on seal installation and maintenance.
Mepaco® equipment features one of three types of seals: Split Seal, Air-Purge Seal, and Mechanical Seal. Each seal is specified for the best use in the type of processing application.
Split Seal: A split seal provides ease of removal and installation. The construction is made up of rubber and metal reinforcement. It can be specified for a variety of applications. It is easy to disassemble for sanitation and holds up to rigorous COP (clean-out-of-place) processes.
Air-purge Seal: These seals are often specified for applications with high food safety risks and abrasive food product situations. The internal components of the seal rotate with the shaft, so there are no typical issues with worn shafts or missing packing. These seals are engineered to reduce maintenance and sanitation costs.
Mechanical Seal: This type of seal is suitable for applications with coarse, gritty food product. These seals are precision-installed and are not forgiving with tolerance. Mechanical seals are engineered for CIP (clean-in-place) sanitation processes.
Contact Mepaco®’s Field Services for answers to your current seal issues, request an audit, or schedule a consultation for a seal solution to fit your application.
The process for sanitary stainless steel equipment fabrication starts with the selection of the metal and special handling of the material to prevent contamination. For many food and chemical producers, the level of finishing on processing equipment is determined by federal, state, and local regulatory agencies. In sanitary applications, the finish, as well as the material, must be designed to mitigate risk and allow for effective and efficient cleaning and sanitation.
A bead blast finish is commonly used for exterior equipment surfaces and can be found on the interior food contact surfaces. The bead blasting process utilizes bead material such as glass or ceramic beads to produce a non-directional, textured surface with a soft satin appearance and low reflectivity. The finer the blasting media, the more corrosion-resistant the surface performance. The RA values are typically higher than 45 but are dependent on the blasting process and the stainless material.
Bead blasting is commonly used when a uniform finish is desired in structural, material handling, or food handling applications. Many food manufacturers utilize a bead blast finish on the food contact surface area; all who have the equipment and sanitation protocols that comply with their industry food safety regulations.
Electropolishing is an electrochemical process that removes surface material from stainless steel. It produces an extremely smooth, mirror-like finish. The process includes immersing the stainless-steel component into a temperature-controlled bath of electrolytes charged with a DC power supply. Electrolytes used in electropolishing are concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid solutions.
Electropolished food contact surfaces comply with sanitation protocols, provide operational sanitation performance beyond compliance, and significantly reduce food attachment, which drives food safety goals and sanitation efficiencies for food processors.
Under 200X magnification, the 304 Stainless electropolish finish shows six times the smoothness measurement than the 304 Stainless Bead Blast Finish.
As microorganisms attach to surfaces, they become more resistant to both physical and chemical sanitation practices. It was determined that out of eleven different finishes tested, the electropolished finish was the most resistant surface to bacterial attachment.
Electropolished food contact surfaces commonly optioned in Mepaco’s cookers, mixers, pump feeders, vacuum stuffers, screw conveyors and inside chutes of dumping equipment. Agitators, shafts and augers can also be electropolished, to treat the entire food contact surface. Electropolishing services are offered in-house by experienced technicians; there is no dependency on outsourcing.
Mepaco’s food processing customers have more discretion in choosing equipment finishes, even in food contact environments. The type of food product, bacterial count, manufacturing function, and sanitation procedures all have an impact on the requirements of equipment finishes.
Metering Screw Conveyors provide surge delivery to downstream equipment, allowing continuous production. Load cells can be integrated into the metering screw to use the loss-in-weight method for measuring product displacement. Metering Screws deliver and surge the correct quantity of product to the mixers, cookers, or blenders downstream as required by the recipe.
The Metering Screw Conveyor is designed with a Clean Sweep Hopper that eliminates waste with a solution that mechanically clears food product between batches.
In the animation, a paddle agitator sweeps the sides of the tub and continually pushes product into the feed screw.
The spin ridge keeps product from barreling, maintaining positive conveyance until the food product is completely unloaded.
Mepaco has engineered Metering Screws up to 6000 lbs. capacity. The screw conveyor delivers metering, formulating and surge applications and handles ground and trim meats, prepared foods, frozen foods, and pet food. Design customization includes:
Contoured covers can be integrated on the screw conveyor, which allows for an increased incline angle, fully contained discharge and reduced footprint.
Processors can realize production efficiencies with options that include:
A typical floor layout is a DP3000 (Direct Pivot) Dumper feeding the hopper. For discharge heights greater than 120”, custom platforms can provide elevated load height and higher discharge requirements.
While not as common, the HD3000, LD3000 and CD1000 dumpers have also been used to feed the Metering Screw.
Surge loading metering screws used in a formulation system configured side by side often use a reciprocating belt conveyor to deliver product between hoppers, depending on the recipe demand.
The discharge chutes on Metering Screws can be static or pivoting. Controls can be programmed to direct chutes to multiple discharge locations.
Mepaco engineers and manufactures many types of Metering Conveyors, from the Clean-Sweep configuration to the Cross-Screw Hopper Design and the conventional center-screw hopper. Our engineering team works with the processor to specify and modify the design to meet the goals of the application.
This featured system doubled cooking batches within a minimal footprint used well-planned equipment selection, floor layout, and controls customization. Mepaco®'s cooking system featured side-by-side ThermaBlend® cookers, with a shared maintenance and sanitation platform.
The multi-recipe prepared foods processor benefited from flexibility in production scenarios. The system can run two batches at once, staggered, or different batches in each cooker, all driven by production demand and recipe controls.
The ThermaBlend® Cooker supports quick homogeneous batch turn for their multi-recipe production requirements. The wrap-around heat jacket design, bi-directional scraper system, and an application-specific agitator create cooking and blending efficiencies.
Further efficiencies of the ThermaBlend® cooker include the variation of processing capabilities in one unit, such as cooking, searing, caramelizing, sautéing, and blending. A versatile unit, ThermaBlend®'s is designed for large-scale cooking operations. Customization such as integrating vacuum and cooling, also provides added efficiency.
The batches are discharged into a heated buffering mixer that maintains product temperature and consistency until signaled for release to downstream operations.
The opposite cover design on the dual cookers with the shared platform and the electropolished food contact surfaces create a high degree of sanitation efficiency.
The system is highly controlled and reliable. Mepaco's ThermaBlend®'s are engineered with extremely robust stay-bolt ASME-rated jackets. Cookers are customized to the application, including experienced agitator designs to meet rigorous production requirements.
Two column dumpers are used to add ingredients to two ThermaBlend® cookers. The Mepaco® Column Dumper offers a very heavy-duty design and is engineered for maintenance ease. Mepaco® often makes modifications depending on the application, such as column heights, dump angles to 60 degrees, dumper capacity, extended chutes, and stainless upgrade kit.
Mepaco® has a new test cooker for processors with new products or recipes requiring cooking and blending. The test cooker is a 75-gallon ThermaBlend® unit with steam injection, vacuum, pneumatic covers and doors, and dual ribbon agitators. Learn more about scheduling a trial.
The Mepaco® brand has been around for a long time. The company began in 1932, and we are well known for our blending systems. Mepaco®'s team of long-standing technical sales managers, engineers, and project leaders work with customer teams to solve for the best solution that fits the application and production goals. Our equipment and systems uphold increased yield performance, optimal designs for ease of maintenance and operation, single-source manufacturing capabilities, the highest sanitary equipment finishes available and vigilant compliance of food safety criteria.
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