It’s just as important for organizations to keep their team members safe as it is to efficiently produce products. That’s why at EnSight Solutions, we strive to help processors maintain a safe environment for their team by offering a variety of food processing safety features on our machines. Here are some of the most common.
Safety cages are a very common way food processors can keep team members safe. They’re effective because when properly deployed, they will physically keep people from entering dangerous areas. In addition, cages made for the food processing industry are often stainless steel, so they’re washdown capable.
While cages do a great job of keeping people out, they can be bulky, take up a lot of valuable space and be expensive, especially as stainless steel prices remain high.
Emergency stops are another common piece of safety equipment–no surprise since they’re standard on all machines with electrical parts. E-stops, as they’re also called, are fail-safe control switches that cut off power to the machine immediately when used, shutting down all functions.
Equipment that uses hydraulics to lift product and/or equipment can be outfitted with check valves, which allow free oil flow in one direction of the hydraulic lift and block oil flow in the opposite direction. In the unlikely event of a hose break or other immediate drop in hydraulic pressure, check valves prevent a hydraulic lift from dropping its load. The load will still come down, just very slowly.
Another safety feature on machines that lift loads is a failsafe stop. This is a stainless steel pin that can be inserted into a machine, such as a tilt dumper, to prevent the machine lift from coming down no matter what. Many processors use these for maintenance and cleaning.
Some machines, such as electric motor-driven column dumpers, rely on chains to lift their loads. A good safety option for those is a brake system. If the chain were to ever break or snap, the system would keep the loaded carriage from falling to the ground.
Many machines, e.g., blenders/mixers, feature lids that need to be opened for access. These machines can be designed with kill switches that quickly turn off the machine if the lid is opened.
Just like safety cages, grates are a physical way of keeping team members from entering dangerous spaces. In these cases, though, the physical barriers are preventing workers from accidentally putting their body parts into moving parts of the machines. Safety grates can be installed over a variety of openings, i.e., manways.
Like safety grates, belt guards provide a physical barrier that keeps team members from coming into contact with moving parts. The guards are often designed so they can only be removed with small hand tools. Once removed, they create an e-stop condition that prevents the machine from running until the guards are reinstalled.
Sensors are a fairly new safety solution, and they’re quickly proving to be a boon for food processors and their team members. For one, they’re much more cost-effective than physical barriers, especially as the price of stainless steel continues rising.
One really beneficial aspect of sensors is the variety of ways they can be deployed. For example, in automation applications involving collaborative robots, sensors can be set up to scan the area. When a team member walks into the area, the sensors will alert the robot, which will then slow down to avoid injury. As the person gets closer to the robot, it will continue slowing down until it stops altogether. In another application, such as with a column dumper, sensors can be deployed as light curtains. They’ll create an invisible barrier. If a team member breaks that barrier in any way, the sensor will automatically shut down the machine.
For a while, food processors avoided sensors because they weren’t washdown capable. Today, though, there are a variety of washdown-friendly sensors on the market that can be washed down with the other machines.
At EnSight Solutions, we take safety very seriously. In addition to looking for ways to improve our machine functionality and efficiency, we are looking for ways to make our machines and the processes associated with them safer. When you contact us in reference to a new machine, we will gladly work with you to determine what safety features fit you and your team’s needs best.
Ready to improve your safety and efficiency with quality food processing machines? Contact our sales consultants now to discuss food processing safety features.