In 2008 the global food and beverage sector was valued at $5.7 trillion, rising to nearly $7 trillion in 2014, making it the world’s largest industrial sector. However, poor cable protection choices by manufacturers contributes to the collective cost of millions linked to bacterial contamination and the knock-on effects of downtime.
Faced with stringent health and safety standards within challenging environments – from sub-zero to elevated temperatures – processors in the food and beverage industry fight a constant battle to ensure equipment operates efficiently, safely, and hygienically, without compromising valuable power and data connections.
However, cable protection systems like conduits and fittings, can in themselves become a home for bacteria and pose a direct threat to food manufacturing. It is well known and proven that bacteria can adapt and survive on the various surfaces, meaning a structured and thorough cleaning regime is a must for clean equipment and food safety.
Regular cleaning is required, since it only temporarily reduces the threat of infection. However this increases the likelihood of liquid ingress and material corrosion. With a wash-down, the killing of bacteria is instant, but stops once stimulus (high pressure wash and chemicals) is removed and the equipment dries. This causes an obvious tension between the need for a dry environment to prevent water ingress, whilst, in turn, doing what’s needed to hamper bacterial growth.
To tackle this problem ABB has formed a commercial partnership with anti-microbial protection experts, BioCote, to introduce a cable protection solution that can withstand the challenging environment of the food and beverage industry, and is proven to eradicate up to 99.9% of contaminating bacteria. The new liquid tight conduit features a smooth, FDA, EC and FSA compliant DuPont Hytrel® thermoplastic jacket, with integral anti-microbial protection incorporating an ionic silver additive. An industry first, single piece liquid tight 316 Stainless Steel fitting completes the system.
Based on a silver glass powder matrix, the anti-microbial additive provides a slow release of silver ions to the surface of the product protecting against bacterial contamination and the growth of mold, whilst providing highly chemical resistant properties.
The liquid tight nature of the system - up to IP69 – and anti-microbial protection, combine to protect power and data cables within, from extreme temperatures and the subsequent wear from regular daily wash downs. Crucially, the integral anti-microbial protection, which neither wears off or washes away, attacks both gram negative and gram positive bacteria, such as MRSA and E.coli, with testing showing reductions in bacteria within 15 minutes compared to an untreated surface.
Guy Charteris, Partner Development Manager at BioCote Ltd comments: “Given the volume of mechanical process equipment involved in the food and beverage industry, such as pumps and motors, combined with the shift towards increased automation, there are often thousands of power and data cables that need to be protected. The ever present and biggest threat to a food and beverage manufacturer is bacteria. Health and safety and infection controls, mean daily equipment wash downs often using chemicals and at high temperatures, are common place.
“As we have seen in recent years, it can take just a single bacterial infection to eradicate decades of consumer trust, crippling a company’s finances in the process. Though anti-microbial technology should not be viewed as a replacement to cleaning, the addition of anti-microbial additives, enhances the system integrity proven by our repeated testing and observations showing bacterial reductions of up to 80% in just 15 mins on the treated conduit systems compared to untreated systems, rising to a 99% bacteria reduction in two hours.”
Meirion Buck, Senior Design & Technical Manager at ABB for Adaptaflex comments: “As liquid tight conduit systems are used across all food and beverage manufacturing sites, we have developed the new system with BioCote, to help give manufacturers piece of mind when it comes to infection protection. The biocidal coating attacks bacteria that comes into contact with it, eliminating up to 99% of bacteria in just a couple of hours, reducing the potential risk of contamination, ultimately reducing the amount of downtime and material cost spent on maintaining cable protection systems. Given the size of the global food and beverage market, the new range can offer end users a quantifiable return on investment and help eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination.”