Working in the food industry, you see a lot of your processing and packaging machines utilizing compressed air. These machines do everything from "air-clean" empty cans to inflating bread bags before sealing the bread inside them. Since this compressed air makes contact directly or indirectly with food, it is vital that your plant keep these machines clean and keep them free of contaminants. Here are three more reasons why the maintenance of commercial-grade, industrial air compressors is so important.
Problems with Moisture and Water Vapor
Moisture and water vapor can actually cause the growth of bacteria and mold in food products. If your air compressors are not closely monitored and the compressed air is not "dried" properly, the food products coming out of your plant are already on their way to becoming unhealthy for consumers. Your maintenance crew needs to check all compressor lines and make sure the hoses are free of any water vapor/moisture on a regular basis. If any water vapor or moisture is noticed, you may need to pull and/or recall products that passed by this particular air compressor in order to keep consumers safe.
Problems with Pressurized Filling Applications
Many machines in food industries use air compressors to force-fill packages. The fill ends of these machines come into direct contact with drink liquids and soft edibles such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. When these compressors are not vigilantly kept clean, some of the ingredients in these products (e.g., cultures in yogurt) can start a slow growth process of very unpleasant contaminants, which the compressors then continue to inject into the oncoming line of food substances and containers. Frequent wipe-downs of these machines along with more in-depth, weekly and/or monthly cleanings is necessary to prevent health concerns.
Problems with Oil Aerosols
Compressors that are connected to food processing and packaging machines frequently have components that require a little oiling to keep them going. Over time, these oils break down and can enter the compressor and pass through the hoses to the food or the packaging. This too is a contaminant that is easily prevented with maintenance. The machines should have connected filters through which the air can pass but any oil-encased dust particles or grease cannot. Your maintenance crew needs to make regular rounds to check the filtration on all of your commercial-grade food processors and clean or replace the filters as needed (or as required by the FDA/health and safety inspectors).
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