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MRO Applications for Spring Energized Seals in the Food Processing Industry

Posted On June 01, 2018 | By: Sara McCaslin, PhD

Spring-energized seals can solve quite a few problems for MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) in the food processing industry. Many of the seals used in food processing are mission critical, and a failed seal can cost much more than just repairs and downtime because it can result in contamination.

In this blog post, we will review:

  • challenges faced in food processing
  • how spring-energized seals meet those challenges
  • specific areas of food processing MRO where spring-energized seals are ideal
     
Food processing industry example

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Challenges

When it comes to seals for the food processing industry, there are several challenges involved. The seals are often exposed to high temperatures, high pressures, and aggressive sanitation procedures. These sanitation procedures often involve hot water or steam as well as harsh chemicals, all of which can compromise the effectiveness of a basic seal design.

Food processing may constantly be exposed to moisture, which can be a challenge for dimensional stability. Lubrication may not be an option if there is the possibility that it can come into contact with food. All seal materials that come into contact with food products must be FDA approved, severely limiting the options that are available. Finally, in food processing, many of these seals are mission-critical, which means that failure is not an option.

Meeting the Challenges: Spring-Energized Seals

Spring-energized seals are some of the most reliable and durable seals available on the market today. The spring can supply sufficient seal force to provide a positive seal even when standard seals cannot. Energized seals perform exceptionally well under conditions that would cause conventional elastomer and polymer seals to fail, such as exposure to a wide range of temperatures, extremely high or extremely low pressures, and contact with aggressive media. They work equally well under negative and positive pressure applications.

Both thermal and hygroscopic effects can affect the dimensional integrity of seals. Because of the spring-energizer, these seals can maintain an excellent seal even in the presence of extreme changes in temperature or moisture-rich environments.

Seal jackets are available in FDA-approved materials such as PTFE and UHMW PE. The energizing spring is available in several different materials and geometries to best meet your sealing needs. They are highly customizable and dependable enough to be used in aerospace and medical applications.

How Spring-Energized Seals Fit Into Food Processing MRO

One way spring-energized seals are essential to MRO is that they can be used as a direct replacement for many standard seals, especially after they have failed. Their reliability and durability save on maintenance costs and eliminate the downtime associated with seals that are more likely to fail.

The seal lip is available in self-lubricating materials that eliminate the need for lubrication which can also reduce maintenance costs. If there have been issues with lubrication (or lack thereof), spring-energized seals are an excellent alternative. Spring-energized seals also work well as replacements in situations where corrosion or contamination have become a problem.

Spring-Energized Seals Are an Excellent Option

Whether it’s time to replace existing seals, troubleshoot a failing seal, or implement a new solution to an existing problem, don’t forget the potential savings and the excellent reliability of spring-energized seals. 

You may also enjoy this article:

7 PTFE & UHMW Polymer Solutions for Food & Dairy Equipment Challenges

Posted in: Spring-Energized Seals, Food & Dairy Industry

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