The food and beverage industry is usually home to some of the harshest environments in which bearings need to operate. With machines that have many moving parts, the bearings found in this industry are important, everyday components. They also have to adhere to the strict safety regulations, designed for manufacturing processes that come into contact with edible products.
The challenges that these bearings face on a daily basis are many. They include extreme temperatures such as excessive heat from environments that involve cooking and baking, or excessive cold from refrigeration or freezer applications. Wet environments, where regular wash down processes take place, expose bearings to excessive moisture and harsh sanitation chemicals, both of which cause bearings to degrade.
To avoid continuously replacing your bearings in this sensitive and harsh environment, it’s vital to select the correct type of bearing for the application. This ensures optimal system longevity and reliability.
To handle wet and corrosive environments, bearings need to be made from non-corrosive materials. The most common of these are stainless steel, chrome, and zinc chromates. A wide variety of speciality bearings have been developed specifically for the food and beverage industry. These include hybrid ball bearings and moulded ball bearings, which offer higher performance in water and extended operating lives, compared with stainless-steel bearings.
In addition to the bearing material, it’s also important to consider the type of lubrication being used. Not only does the bearing lubricant need to be effective, but it also needs to be approved for use in environments where food or beverages are being manufactured. These are typically food-grade lubricants which are odourless, tasteless, non-toxic and resistant to the daily wash-downs.
As with all types of bearings, it’s essential to assess and understand the specific application before selecting the most appropriate bearing. Always consider speaking to a professional for advice and guidance if you’re not entirely confident you’ll make the right choice.
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