Yorkshire engineering firm, HpE (Hygienic Process Equipment) has invested more than £250,000 in a new product to help food manufacturers cut production costs, improve hygiene standards and traceability.
According to the company, food production has been hit in recent years as substandard stainless steel tubing has made its way into the manufacturing process. Which it says may lead to financial impacts on producers adversely affecting hygiene, health and safety and factory downtime.
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Originally based in Cleckheaton, HpE Process Ltd has been headquartered at Gildersome Spur in Leeds since 2007. A major supplier of components for the brewing and distilling industries, the company has also installed successful systems for companies including Colmans, Unilever, Kelloggs and Mondelez, Glaxo Smithkline, L’Oreal.
The Versaline range improves maintenance intervals while safeguarding food quality. It could dramatically cut maintenance costs for many producers.
Managing director Andrew Allman, who started Hygienic Process Equipment Ltd in 1989, has worked with customers to develop a solution that was financially and ethically sustainable. Versaline follows eight years of research and development trialling different products from across Europe and Asia.
He explained: “Tubes in food production are subject to unusually frequent expansion and contraction due to the nature of food processing and cleaning regimes. They are also often subject to high levels of chlorine – an element that can damage stainless steel which has not been passivated. This causes stress cracking and corrosion.”
“Food manufacturers often ask suppliers to replace tube without giving a full material specification. This leaves them open to abuse as suppliers use cheaper tubing that is sub standard and not made for food production. In one case we have seen car exhaust piping supplied.
“While manufacturers will mark their tubing, UK stockholders often use third party polishers and this process removes the manufacturers’ marks. The material is then un-traceable and indistinguishable from exhaust or architectural tube. In the event of a failure, food producers are left to carry the financial and reputational implications of contamination or breakdown.
The latest European Standard (EN10357) for food tubing demands it is marked. However it leaves the choice of annealing and passivation to the purchaser – who may not have the knowledge or experience of food processing and stainless steel required to make the correct choice.
“Versaline tube has been designed to reduce corrosion and stress cracking; all of our tubes are marked with the manufacturing detail, so that the end customer can see that the material is a true food grade standard and that it can be traced back to us.