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Lean Factory Experience

improve-productivity-increase-profitsAt the ATX South Convention in Charlotte this March, visitors got another chance to learn about the latest innovations in lean manufacturing. The popular seminars, hosted by Bosch Rexroth, Orgatex and the Leonardo Group, had already attracted over 900 visitors during the 3-day ATX West convention in Anaheim earlier this year. It proved to be a fun, educational way to get started with lean manufacturing.

Wiring solutions for harsh environments: Lumberg Automation’s Food and Beverage Product Family

Food processing presents one of the harshest environments that exist for connector and wiring applications. This is in part due to stringent hygienic requirements, based on compliance regulations of the FDA, who states that one of its Food Safety Roles is “Establishing good food manufacturing practices and other production standards, such as plant sanitation, packaging requirements, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point programs.” Meeting these sanitation standards demands extensive cleaning. This means the environment produces operational challenges in the extreme because sanitizing requires the introduction of heavy splashdown combined with harsh chemicals and cleaning agents to which the connectors, cables and other electronic components are constantly exposed.

harsh-conditions-demand-innovative-materialsSeveral years ago Lumberg Automation developed a new series of connector products, the “Food & Beverage” product family, designed specifically for such demanding applications.

Along with Micro M12 actuator/sensor and AS-Interface distribution boxes, made from V4A 316L stainless steel, the product range comprises Micro M12 actuator/sensor cord sets which feature PVC cables and stainless steel coupling nuts. The product group also offers Micro M12 field attachable connectors with stainless steel coupling nuts as well as Micro M12 stainless steel bulkhead receptacles.

What are the advantages of the “Food & Beverage” product line?

Conventional Micro M12 connector assemblies are made of polyurethane (PUR) and nickel-plated brass coupling nuts. Those materials are an excellent choice for standard applications, like you might find in the automotive or other similar harsh factory environment industries, because they feature outstanding oil and grease resistance. However, the resistance of PUR against various cleaning and disinfecting agents as commonly used in the Food & Beverage industry is extremely limited.

Food & Beverage processing plants often have high humidity and the aforementioned frequent cleaning with high pressure wash down equipment is common place. Standard connector assemblies often fail in this type of environment due to the nickel-plated brass coupling nuts corroding and the PUR material swelling and thus compromising the IP (Ingress Protection) which standardizes the level of sealing of the connector. As a result, water can penetrate the connectors which can lead to equipment failures and machine down times.

PVC and stainless steel materials are preferred in this industry because they provide excellent resistance against commonly used cleaning and disinfecting agents as well as high humidity and high pressure wash down.

Lumberg’s “Food & Beverage” product line complies with these requirements by using high quality V4A/316L grade stainless steel as well as PVC for all molded/extruded portions of the connector assembly, which helps increase the longevity of the product life cycle thereby helping to eliminate machine down times.

In addition to the resistance to chemicals and humidity, a high priority is placed on designing and manufacturing impermeable (seal integrity and watertight characteristics) connector assemblies. The Lumberg “Food & Beverage” products feature the highest protection class with an IP69K rating according to DIN 40050, which offers protection against high pressure wash down and steam jet cleaning.

For more information on these and other products, contact HiTech Automation today.

(Article by Susanne M. Walker, Lumberg Food & Beverage Market Manager)