For some companies, simply maintaining the surface condition of a part isn’t enough. In several applications, a part or product needs more than just an unblemished surface, it needs to be kept in sanitary conditions.
This is particularly true for the food and pharmaceutical industries, where a failure to keep dirt, dust, and other contaminants off of the surface of consumable products could lead to the spread of disease.
Any equipment used in a sanitary application needs to:
- Be easy to clean/sanitize
- Keep contaminants out
- Prevent the pooling of liquids & product
- Ensure easy access for inspection
- Eliminate niches such as cracks, craters, pits, etc.
These are just a few of the things that are necessary for meeting the requirements of the American Meat Institute’s checklist for the principles of sanitary design. Being able to meet these requirements helps ensure safer consumable goods in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
This goes not only for the equipment used to make products, but for the cabinets, carts, baskets, and trays used to carry them from process to process as well.
Recently, Marlin was contracted to build a clean cabinet for a major food manufacturer to hold product-laden trays safely after preparation was finished.
Here’s how this “cabinet” for product trays met the demands of sanitary design:
1: Ensuring Ease of Cleaning
To make the cabinet cleanable to a microscopic level, Marlin used grade 304 stainless steel as the primary material for the frame. This material meets sanitary standards for being corrosion-resistant, non-toxic, and non-absorbent.
The sheet metal that was used for the frame was rendered smooth using additional processes to help ensure that it would resist the accumulation of microbes and debris. This helps keep contaminants from sticking to the frame so that it is easy to clean.
Finally, the design of the cabinet was intentionally left wide open so that cleaning machines and personnel could easily reach inside to every surface for a thorough clean.
2: No Niches/Hollows
Removing interior corners from the design helped to further reduce the chances of debris or liquids becoming trapped in the frame of this stainless steel cabinet. The frame is additionally free of hollows where product debris or liquids could collect.
3: Creating Sanitary Operational Performance
To keep dirt, dust, and other airborne particulates from touching product in the cabinet, a clear plastic cover was added to the design. This cover was secured to the basket using a small series of flat sheet metal hooks on the cabinet exterior, allowing for easy removal should the cover need cleaning and sanitation.
By using a clear plastic, the product inside the cabinet could be protected from contaminants while still being readily visible for inspection.
A side benefit of using stainless steel for the frame is that it can easily withstand continuous exposure to temperatures in excess of the AMI-recommended 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the frame to be sanitized in high-temperature environments that would ruin a plastic frame.
Ensuring That the Design Would Meet Performance Needs
Before the design of this steel cabinet was finalized, it first had to pass a series of virtual tests using Autodesk physics simulation software. This software allowed Marlin’s engineers to simulate the effects of prolonged use in the customer’s work environment—identifying any faults that would compromise its sanitary properties.
By checking the design in a virtual environment, Marlin’s engineers ensured that the cabinet would remain a useful part of the client’s manufacturing process for years to come, rather than falling apart in just a few short months of use.
The end result was a durable, reliable product that was custom-tailored to the client’s needs.
Learn more about how you can get the perfect custom sheet metal fabrication to meet your own needs today!