Selecting HMI for the Food Industry

August 5, 2019 Sam Liao, Winmate Inc.

Safety, Hygiene and Reliability

In the food and beverage processing industries, hygiene is of the utmost importance, from meat processing, to filling and packaging goods, all environments in the production facility have to be sanitary and contamination free. The whole production facility has to be thoroughly cleaned every day, with extensive wash downs with cleaning agents and high pressure, high temperature sprays to ensure disinfection of the food processing areas. All the equipment for automation has to be able to handle the hazards in the food processing environments where dust, dirt and liquids have to be cleaned off all machines in the facility daily to prevent food contamination.

Stainless HMI computers that can withstand intense cleaning for food processing hygiene.

Water and Dust Protection

The IP Code, International Protection Marking, IEC 60529 (EN 60529), also known as the Ingress Protection (IP) rating, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact and water. The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts (e.g., electrical conductors, moving parts) and access for solid foreign objects. The second digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against harmful entry of water.

However, the highest does not mean the best. The choice depends on your application requirements and the environment where you are going to deploy the HMI solution. Generally speaking, for the food and beverages industry, there are four possible protection levels: IP69K, the highest, IP67, IP66 and IP65.

A breakdown on each level of protection is as follows:

  • IP69K - The IP69K device is built to withstand extensive wash downs with corrosion resistance against cleaning agents, especially against close-range high-pressure, high temperature wash downs. The level of protection allows for easy cleaning and sterilization using water with temperatures of up to 80°C and pressure of up to 30 Bar.
  • IP67 - The IP67 rating indicating that the device is actually protected even when immersed in as much as 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water. The sealed IP67 design protects the internal components from dust and water.
  • IP66 - Complete protection against contact (dust tight) and water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
  • IP65 - IP rated as "dust tight" and protected against water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction. IP65 rated panel PCs can be sprayed clean and prevent ingredients from making their way into the system and causing damage to components.

Some applications like packaging controllers may go well with IP65-rated HMI; while more demanding applications like meat cutting operation control may require IP69K rating to survive daily high-pressure cleaning. The choice depends on the environment and the location of the HMI device on the production floor.

Corrosion Resistance

The housing of panel PC and HMI devices should be made of SUS304 stainless steel to resist against corrosion and liquids. It contains between 16 and 24 percent chromium and up to 35 percent nickel, as well as small amounts of carbon and manganese. Besides the attractive, clean finish, that durability makes 304 easy to sanitize.

Cleaning

The devices must be resistant to high pressure, high temperature wash-downs, cleaning with acid-based cleaning agents, and that is where the IP69K rating wins first place. The surface should be easy to clean, featuring edge-to-edge true flat design that prevents the buildup of any particles on the bezels, which make it harder to clean thoroughly for complete sterilization. Waterproof connectors and an air venting valve that prevents moisture within the housing allow complete protection during the cleaning process.

HMI Solution for Food and Beverage Automation

Suitable HMI solution for food production facilities most likely should be corrosion, waterproof and dust-proof to be used as the main machine line controller. To be easily cleaned and disinfected daily, the computers have to be able to withstand high pressure, high temperature wash downs. To ensure the connectors and cables remain waterproof, additional cabling protection will likely be required. Winmate offers a full line of stainless HMI and panel PC with the IP69K, IP67, IP65 rating of your choice tailored for the food and beverage industry, as well as pharmaceutical and packaging processes automation.

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