Lubricants/F&B Why Accurate Lubrication is Vital for the F&B Industry

Author / Editor: Viju Parameshwar / Dominik Stephan

Safety regulations are extremely stringent in the food and beverage industry. This is owing to the high possibility of food contamination with lubricants used in automated processes. However, certified lubricants when used, protect equipment and also avoid contamination when incidental contact is made.

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Certified lubricants ensure that there is no contamination when it comes into incidental contact with food items or beverages
Certified lubricants ensure that there is no contamination when it comes into incidental contact with food items or beverages
(Picture: Klüber Lubrication India)

According to Global Water Intelligence, growth in technology for the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry is to rise by $2.7 billion by 2020. By the same year, The Boston Consulting Group estimates that the percentage of processed food in India will rise from 12 to 20 per cent. This is owing to the fact that India is considered as one of the largest producers, as well as consumers, of food.

Over the years, there has been a change in the pattern of food consumption by the increasing Indian population, and thereby, a qualitative shift in people’s diet towards richer, healthier processed foods has been observed. One way for food manufacturers to meet such a significant increase in demand is to optimize production and packaging processes. There is an increasing importance of automated food processing in India.

Quality manufacturing of food and beverages on an industrial scale would not be possible without a high level of automation; hydraulic and electric actuators are critical moving components in equipment used for processing and packaging of F&B products. In addition, machines used to process food must keep the food safe.

Importance of Lubricants in F&B

The machinery used to prepare and process foodstuffs, cosmetics, tobacco products and pharmaceutical products require lubricants, heat transfer mechanisms, power transmission and corrosion protection for proper functioning. Lubrication, in particular, is an essential part of automation to ensure that the moving parts and equipment function as designed and ensure thousands of hours of trouble-free operation. Process lines now include conveyor belts, bottling machines, deep freeze tunnels or pellet presses, and give rise to numerous possibilities for the use of specialty lubricant products.

Furthermore, lubricants not only reduce friction but use of some special lubricants and maintenance products also extend the service life of production plants as well as the lifespan of individual components. Also, quality release agents need to be used for the reliable and efficient manufacture of food packaging.

Requirements for Lubricants and Maintenance Products

Lubricants and maintenance products used for food processing machines and packaging plants must be able to function in difficult conditions such as extreme heat or cold. Production of cans with drinks could travel on conveyor belts through ovens heated to over 200°C. There are lubricants that have specially-developed lubricant formulae that are made to last, reducing consumption by over two thirds. The wear and tear of the chains is reduced to such an extent that its lifespan doubles. Manufacturers in the food industry can therefore reduce their costs and produce more efficiently. However, efficiency is not the only criteria necessary to compete in the food industry. Adhering to high safety standards is also critical.