Karl Lycett, Rittal UK’s Product Manager for Climate Control, looks at how the balance between properly sealed enclosers and managing equipment temperature can be achieved in a food and beverage production environment.
For operators who are specifying the right climate control in a food and beverage facility, there are specific challenges which must be fully understood before making a selection. The main one is the ‘Hygiene Zone’ in which the equipment lies. Hygiene Zones are defined by the EN 1672-2:2005 Standard, which determines the level of exposure the raw ingredients have to the environment and possible contaminants.
Zone 1 – Food Zone
In Zone 1, surfaces come into direct contact with foodstuffs, which will then return to the product stream. In most instances, these areas will be exposed to regular if not continuous cleaning regimes and will be sprayed down with high-pressure cleaning fluid.
It is important to ensure that both Hygienic Design (HD) enclosures and HD climate control equipment is used within these areas. This equipment is designed to withstand rigorous cleaning and high-pressure jets, with no nooks and crannies which can harbour germs and cause a bacterial build-up.
Rittal’s range of HD Air-to-Water Heat Exchangers is an extremely versatile option which meets the requirements of the Standard while maintaining an acceptable temperature for control equipment. They connect to a chilled water supply and come in different output sizes to remove large levels of heat, whatever the project size.
Zone 2 – Splash Zone
Zone 2 is defined as having surfaces that will come into direct contact with foodstuffs which will not return to the product stream. These areas will still be exposed to regular cleaning routines, and the floors may be sprayed, but the enclosures and climate control equipment will not.
It is strongly advised that operators install stainless steel products in this area. This is because there may be some splashing which occurs, so a higher level of protection is advisable.
Here, Rittal can supply its cooling unit range in stainless steel as an option.
Zone 3 – Non-Food Zone
An example of Zone 3 could be a warehouse or logistical space where finished goods are transported from, or taken into, the plant. There are no raw foodstuffs present in this area.
It’s unlikely there will be any cleaning activity in these areas, apart from the occasional sweeping of debris. It’s therefore acceptable (depending on your company’s specific guidelines) to either use mild steel or stainless steel products.