No matter if you are a large or small producer of juices, beer or any sort of beverage or food products, keeping sanitary conditions with hoses is critical. Many hose options exist today to use in your operation. It is important to match your application with the right hose or tubing to obtain the best performance.
If unsure, start with the STAMPED procedure, which gives you and your supplier key information on your application to match the best hose product to use.
S = Size (inside and outside diameter, overall length)
T = Temperature of system
A = Application – where is the hose used in the process? Indoor? Outdoor? Stationary? Unloading, etc.?
M = Material conveyed/media – what is being transferred in this hose or tube? Liquid? Sugar? Grains?
P = Pressure – what is the system pressure, or is it suction?
E = Ends needed – tri-clover, cam and groove, crimped or banded?
D = Delivery – what are your time frame requirements?
It is also recommended to provide information on special plant safety requirements or regulations such as the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), CIP (clean-in-place), special testing, tagging, etc.
As you choose the hose product to meet your needs, some other guidelines to achieve that product’s best life and performance apply. In many applications, abrasion, hose end damage, cleaning, heat and ozone (including improper storage effects), and fluid incompatibility shorten hose life.
Depending on the application, protecting the hose cover against abrasion is sometimes not the easiest thing to accomplish. Nitrile, EPDM (synthetic rubber), XNBR (carboxylated nitrile) and other food hose cover stocks help abrasion applications. In food processing, placing an additional hose abrasion covering is usually not allowed, creating unsanitary conditions. In stationary applications where a hose lies in a stationary position but may be subject to pressure impulses, a possible result is removing one side of the hose cover over time. The practice of rotating the hose — if possible — will add cover life. This type of preventive maintenance may not be practical with the workforce size and other conditions in your plant. However, food hoses are expensive, and any type of process to add hose life will result in cost savings.
Hoses used for tank-to-tank locations and subject to dragging from one location to another are a little harder to protect. To help preserve the hose, look at your plant environment — sharp edges, pinch points and especially rough surfaces that will cause issues. Determine the best way to reduce or fix those areas.
Hose end damage
Hose ends are often dropped on the ground or pavement, deforming the end configuration when connecting and disconnecting hose assemblies. Some manufacturers have a rubber ring as part of the coupling assembly to help protect the ends. There are also re-attachable hose rings that do the same thing but can be reused.
Food processing plants perform clean-in-place (CIP) processes using pumps and hoses with detergent/disinfectants and water in and around the equipment to achieve required cleanliness levels. In larger operations, more sophisticated equipment with computers is used to gain cleanliness levels as well. The CIP process cleans and sanitizes the hose, but older hoses with kinks could create ripples or cracks in the tube that CIP may not clean as efficiently as a newer hose.
Inspect your hoses as they are integral to your process. Some plants are looking at silicone-based hose products with high-temperature ratings for super-heated hot water to super-clean the assembly. Like PTFE, silicone has great properties like high chemical resistance and a low coefficient of friction, but it can be costly compared to regular-constructed food or brewing hose.
Another area of assembly cleaning is the hose ends. Two methods of ends are used in the industry:
- Traditional hose barb ends that are secured either with bands or external crimp sleeves.
- Internal expanded hose barbs secured from crimping from the inside, leaving a smooth uniform tube and coupling profile. The internal expanded hose end with the smooth profile helps eliminate the buildup of any contaminants.
Both couplings are widely used in the industry. The internal expanded type is more costly, so traditional hose barb ends lead the market.
Depending on the manufacturer and application, food hoses will range in acceptable constant and intermittent hose temperature ratings. These ratings are due to the type of tube construction material used and application need.
With heat, there are internal and external sources, and ozone is always around. For an internal example, if your hose is rated for up to 150°F and your running product meets or exceeds that rating, you will reduce that hose’s life. In-plant high heat and external heat sources like sunlight or being laid on pavement expose the cover over time, leading to cracking or dry rotting. Hose manufacturers recommend storing hoses in cool, dry areas away from heat, sunlight, ozone, dust, etc. This is not always practical. If you see cracking on covers and dry rotting on your hose, they will probably need replacing as the budget allows.
Food hose is constructed for many different applications: orange juice, tomato juice and paste, pulp, grain, flour, beer and wine, to name a few. Matching the right tube stock to your application will provide the best performance and life. For example, if you are transporting grain, use a tube stock that may be pure gum or have high abrasion resistance. Not all tube stocks will cover all food products you may have in your plant. You may see cover bubbles or blisters where something is affecting the hose’s tube, causing reduced life or failure.
Adding hose life in your applications has common-sense issues. Environmental considerations and the other recommendations described here can help your discussions with plant maintenance and engineering departments. Engaging a third party with food operations experience can be a valuable resource to help you bring out the best in hose performance.
Brad Hoback grew up in a family-owned hydraulic hose business in Denver, Colorado. For the last 20+ years, he has been a hose and rubber specialist with Motion and is currently director of hose fabrication. Hoback is Gates certified and a Safe Hydraulics trainer. Motion’s qualified specialists service a wide variety of food plants nationally with effective designs and solutions for the most challenging applications. Discover Mi Conveyance Solutions at: motionind.biz/3uo9vgq.