In food processing plants, implementing sanitation processes to battle bacteria has increasingly become more challenging. Equipment manufacturers are required to design food-processing machinery that minimizes crevices where bacterial can harbor. Belt conveyors transferring food products to a number of processing stations has become ground zero for bacteria deposits. For this reason, belt conveyors are required to undergo frequent wash-down cycles. The wash-down process is usually done by pressure washing belt conveyors with warm water mixed with cleansing chemicals in order to remove, kill, or neutralize harmful bacteria.
Although shocking a conveyor with high pressure water doesn’t create a problem for the belt or the conveyor frame, it is a huge problem for the electric motor of the conveyor drive. Traditionally, to avoid electric motor failures, food processing conveyor manufacturers have opted to use hydraulic motors to power the belts. Although hydraulic motors are not sensitive to the washdown process, the concept has two main disadvantages. One, if the plant needs to increase production it could eventually exceed the hydraulic system capacity. The other disadvantage is the possibility of a hydraulic line burst. If this occurs, hydraulic fluid would spray and contaminate the food products in a large area, resulting in significant amount of product disposal.