Getting Hygiene Right in Food Processing Environments.

We all know the importance of washing our hands before we cook a meal or sit down to eat. Hygiene at the industrial scale of food production is rather more complicated. Factories and other environments involved in the food industry must adhere to a stringent array of food safety and food hygiene standards.

When it comes to supplying hardware for use in such environments, then, manufacturers and vendors need to have a keen awareness of the kinds of materials and practices that are essentials to maintaining good hygiene. Distec has long supplied industrial computing solutions and other next-generation technology for use in the food industry, so these are challenges we understand well.

When such hardware is to be deployed in a food environment, there are two key elements to be aware of in order to maintain good hygiene. The first element is the materials the hardware is made of. The second element is the ability of that hardware to withstand the particular environmental nuances of food factories. Let’s take a look at each in turn.

From a materials perspective, it is important for computers and touchscreens in food and drink environments to be smooth and simple, so that dirt and other material is less likely to stick to the equipment or become trapped on it. Additionally, it must be non-corrosive and non-toxic (for obvious reasons!) and non-reactive with the chemicals which may be used to keep it clean.

Stainless steel is almost always the best choice for hardware to be deployed in food organisations because of precisely these qualities. Distec offers a range of industrial touchscreen monitors, industrial PCs and HMIs with stainless steel casings which can be kept clean and therefore safe with ease.

From an environment perspective, there are several things to think about. First, the hardware needs to be resistant to both dust and liquids. Depending on the precise type of environment it is deployed in, it may get a regular dusting of a fine material like flour, splashed with water or other liquids, or even actively sprayed down.

Ingress Protection or International Protection (IP) ratings stipulate how much dust and liquid a piece of equipment can withstand – essentially, they are a measure of how tightly sealed and watertight the device is. For industrial PCs, touchscreens and HMIs deployed in food and drink environments, it is sensible to opt for at least IP65, which offers total protection from dust ingress, and protection from low water pressure jets from any direction.

Then there are the cleaning procedures which take place in a typical food factory every day – which could involve robust jet-washing and harsh chemicals, or regularly moving a device to different locations. The hardware needs to be able to withstand all this and carry on working perfectly – after all, if a touchscreen controlling, say, the temperature of food in storage stops working reliably, then it could cause a whole new set of food hygiene problems. Additionally, extreme temperatures are quite common in food factories, and personnel need to be confident that their technology will not warp or stop working throughout those fluctuations.

Hygiene in industrial food and drink environments is vitally important, and hardware like computers and touchscreens plays an essential role in supporting that hygiene. For more information on the kinds of devices that can help maintain a clean and hygienic environment, get in touch with Distec today.

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