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IP69k Components Earn Their Place in Food and Beverage Packaging

The use of food and beverage packaging equipment and machine components that meet this aggressive IP standard can reduce risk and simplify designs

News reports chronicling incidents of contamination in processed foods and beverages have spurred concerns and packaging industry changes in recent years.

A direct result is legislation such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires food and beverage manufacturers to document their work at all steps in the process. There is also increased attention among food manufacturers and the companies that serve them on food safety during the packaging process. For details on this trend, download and read our report, "Five Ways Food Packaging OEMs Can Innovate Projects."

Part of the solution is that washdowns used to remove residues and bacterial equipment from packaging machinery are typically aggressive and harsh, while the equipment subjected to those conditions is expected to soldier on.

As such, interest among OEMs and their customers runs high for parts that can prove their mettle. And there's no better indication of a product's washdown-worthiness than the standard known as IP69k.

It's the highest standard there is when it comes to a component's ability to stand up to washdowns. Relative to packaging machinery and the OEMs that build them, IP69k-rated actuators, HMI devices, servomotors, and valve systems are certified to withstand high-pressure and high-temperature washdowns so vital to food and beverage packaging tasks.

Considering these impacts, and the reasons for their growth, it's not surprising that demand within the food and beverage packaging machinery market is growing for IP69k-rated components. The benefits they offer are widespread and compelling.

What the IP Ratings Mean
The IP69k rating and its related classifications are part of the International Electrotechnical Commission's International Protection Marking system under IEC standard 60529. The series of IP codes are certified depictions of how well a particular piece of electronic equipment is protected from ingress by any number of foreign object or liquids, ranging from dust particles to water to hands and fingers.

Often referred to as Ingress Protection Marking, the codes signify in detail, the level of protection provided to internal electrical components by way of their enclosure from various contaminants such as dust, water, and solid objects, including hands or fingers. OEMs that use IP-rated components can be assured of consistent results when considering product attributes.

While the "IP" part of the code signifies Ingress Protection or International Protection, the digits in each code refer to specific protective characteristics it offers. The first digit relates to that component's ability to withstand solid particles or objects, while the second digit pertains to the components specific ability to withstand water. In general, the higher the number of each digit, the better the level of protection offered against certain washdown conditions (although water ratings higher than 6 are not necessarily immersion-proof).

Depending on their need for frequent and aggressive washdowns, electrical components used in food and beverage packaging machinery may be expected to meet IP65, IP67, IP68 and/or, IP69k.

The 6 in these ratings means that the devices are dust-tight, and offer electronics complete protection from dust. Meanwhile the 5, 7, and 8 indicate varying degrees of protection from water:

•  5 means the electronics are protected from low-pressure water jets from all directions
•  7 means the electronics are protected from temporary immersion (30 minutes) between 15 cm and 1 meter
•  8 means the electronics are protected against long periods of immersion under pressure

Growing in popularity with food and beverage packaging OEMs, is equipment with the highest IP rating — IP69k — which indicates the component can withstand close-range, high pressure, high temperature washdowns and steam-jet cleanings.

Customer Demand for IP69k
Equipment vendors realize the growing importance of equipment rated to these standards. The trickle-down effect begins when food and beverage manufacturers specify these ratings, driving OEMs to demand them.

IP69k-rated products are particularly ideal for packaging line components used within food and splash zones, as well as in areas where food is returned to the product flow. Products with this rating have passed extensive testing as proof of their protection against penetration of high pressure, high temperature water, and dust. To test for water intrusion, for example, products are rotated and sprayed at close range with water pressures of between 1160 and 1450 psi at a temperature of 176°F/80°C.

The benefits of this high ranking are extensive. IP69k-rated components can save OEMs and their customers frustration because they may eliminate the need for expensive protective cabinets, reduce the size of the cabinets required, or they may free up cabinet space for other electronics. All of these changes can lead to reduced cost of equipment. If the rating means the products can be mounted directly on the plant floor or on the machines they control, installation and adjustments are also simplified.

Parts That Measure Up
One Parker product group with direct experience in the IP69k rating process is the Electromechanical Automation Division, which recently launched the MPW series of stainless steel rotary servo motors.

Based upon the division's flagship MPP motor line, the stainless steel MPW rotary servomotors offer a single-piece front flange and 300 series stainless steel micro-polished housing to withstand the harshest washdown environments. Certified to IP69k standards, the motor meets the needs of applications exposed to high pressure, highly caustic, washdown environments.

Those washdown capabilities are important, as the motor is commonly used in food zone areas where it has the potential to contact food. As such, it can be washed down in the same manner as nonelectronic food zone components. And it's superior to the use of IP69k-rated cabinets around motors that could cause them to overheat and fail.

A Standard with Staying Power
While the use of IP69k-rated components may not yet be widespread among packaging applications, they continue to gain prominence and popularity among OEMs and their vendors. As such, entities serving the food and beverage OEM market will continue to stay tuned to industry demands, as they look for ways to engineer this level of performance in their products.

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