Hydraulics & Pneumatics June 2023

SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD & BEVERAGE FOCUS 40 HYDRAULICS & PNEUMATICS June 2023 www.hpmag.co.uk The UK’s food and drink industry is the country’s biggest manufacturing sector by turnover, according to the government’s Department for Business & Trade, valued at over £104 billion. It is larger than the aerospace and automotive industries, with market growth expected to continue this year. Operating on a complex and dynamic scale, the industry relies heavily on efficient processes to the meet the demands of a growing consumer base – this is where hydraulics plays a crucial role. Hydraulic systems, due to their extensive application in heavy-duty machinery, are not typically associated with sectors that require precision and extreme cleanliness such as food & beverage and pharmaceutical. However, the incredible versatility of both hydraulics and pneumatics mean that food production facilities actually rely on them to perform a wide variety of tasks, ranging from processing through to final packaging and even product loading. The extreme temperatures, high pressure, and high speeds at which production lines can often operate mean that hydraulic and pneumatic solutions are often the most viable solutions. Everything from chocolate to yoghurt, pastry to beer, and biscuits to coffee, all need the assistance of hydraulics and pneumatics to make the final product and both systems will be at work at every stage of manufacturing process. Here are just some of the places they will be in operation: Chopping, cutting, slicing and dicing systems The movement of products around the production line Ingredient dispensing systems for both solids and liquids Powering mixers and blenders Blow-moulding and manipulation of food grade packaging Shaping and forming end products Sealing of bottles and cans Keeping the process moving cement, and rotation not just for the product themselves but also for the components of the production line system. They aid in tasks such as the opening and closing of oven doors, the redirection of items along an assembly line and also in the hygienic cleaning and sanitation of processes after food production has ceased. Pneumatic systems that are driven by air compressors are often used in food production as a reliable way of generating motion; they are also easy to clean which is essential in a food production environment. On the other hand, hydraulic systems are particularly useful where lifting or lowering is involved. Both systems are capable of driving processing, assembly, or packaging lines even in the most difficult work environments. They are often preferable to electric power as they are largely unaffected by extreme dust and moisture. Consequences of hydraulic failure If the hydraulics within a food and beverage plant were to fail, it could have several implications depending on the specific processes and equipment involved. Many food and beverage processing plants rely on hydraulics to operate various equipment such as pumps, conveyers, mixers, and packaging machines. If the hydraulics fail, these machines may not function properly or could completely stop working. This could lead to unwanted downtime due to production delays, decreased productivity, and potentially even product spoilage if ingredients or products are not processed or handled correctly. Operating on a complex and dynamic scale, the food and beverage industry relies heavily on efficient processes to the meet the demands of a growing consumer base – this is where hydraulics plays a crucial role. Ian Cochran, national technical support manager at Pirtek UK & Ireland, explains further. Keeping food and beverage production moving