Advanced Motion Control for Harsh Environments

From high-pressure washdown at food and bottling plants to the extreme heat and pressure generated by oil and gas exploration to an increasing focus on outdoor applications, advanced motion control solutions are being implemented in a wider set of harsh environments than ever before.

Recall concerns push washdown solutions

"Washdown is an important harsh environment segment that is growing because of concerns resulting from the recalls that we have seen this year," says Gene Matthews, product manager for Kollmorgen. "With the listeria outbreak traced back to a cantaloupe packing plant, in addition to ground meat and egg recalls, there are many more machines that need to be washed down on a daily basis with caustic chemicals, steam, and/or using high pressure."

Matthews says that, because of liability issues, the industry is moving toward all-stainless-steel, hygienic designs, often using air purge and all of the techniques available to make sure that the motor is going to survive in the environment and can be cleaned thoroughly.

"There are a number of challenges related to washdown applications," says Matthews. "If the customer is using caustic chemicals, those chemicals will hasten corrosion and shorten the life of painted motors. For this reason, the most robust motor designs include an all-stainless-steel exterior. Stainless steel is chosen due to its resistance to corrosion."

Companies are also utilizing round motor designs to eliminate the nooks and crannies in the motor housing where bacteria can hide, and to let users more easily and thoroughly spray off the surfaces. Another approach is to use steam. The IP69K standard allows customers to use an 80C liquid for washdown between 1,200psi and 1,450psi. Most motor designs that meet the IP69K standard are all stainless steel. The reason for this is that painted motors can fail quickly once the painted surface is compromised. No matter what kind of paint is used, if the surface is scratched or chipped, the motor will corrode quickly under these conditions.

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