10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VERTICAL FORM FILL SEAL MACHINE AND SANITATION
As a manufacturer of vertical form fill seal machines and packaging equipment since 1923 – primarily for customers in the food industry — Triangle understands sanitation requirements. Since 2010, we’ve offered our X-Series vertical form fill seal machine in three levels of sanitation: stainless steel, stainless steel washdown, and USDA/3-A models. Many of our customers – particularly those in the produce, meat, poultry, and seafood markets – require the highest levels of sanitation available. It was these forward-thinking customers that we turned to long before FSMA was passed to find out how we could further improve the X-Series bagger to meet their needs. As a result of this collaborative effort, we were able to further develop our sanitation expertise and design not only a bagger that meets USDA and 3-A requirements, but a 3-A-certified forming tube.
Whether you’re planning to purchase a new vertical form fill seal machine or would like to evaluate your existing equipment, it’s helpful to know what to consider in terms of sanitation, maintenance, and reliability. To aid in that process, here are:
10 things to know about sanitary equipment design and vertical form fill seal machine
1. Look for design features that prevent puddling, standing water, or product build-up. Are there surfaces on the top of the machine where water or product can collect? Are there sharp edges that can lead to product build-up? Our X- Series vertical form fill seal machines are sanitary by design. Cross members, for instance, are turned 90°, and all edges have a finished edge that is ground smooth. These features facilitate water and product shedding, as well as ease of cleaning. Triangle’s bagging machines also feature pitched surfaces such as the top plates and control box, to enable drip-drain-draw.
2. Avoid crevices or “sandwiched” metal. You can’t clean between sandwiched surfaces. For this reason, a welded frame is more sanitary than a frame that is bolted together. Our welds are designed with an open radius and ground smooth to be wiped clean. There are no crevices and no “ribbing or pits” that are difficult to clean. If there is sandwiched metal on our machines, food grade silicone is placed between the parts prior to assembly to provide a sanitary gasket.
3. What are the advantages of electro-polished stainless steel? On Triangle’s X-Series vertical form fil seal machine , all stainless steel is electro-polished. This “super passivation” process first acid washes the material to remove any impurities, then brings the nickel to the surface, which makes the surface smoother, so it is easier to clean. This process also reduces the opportunity for bacteria to collect on the surface.
4. The use of aluminum should be kept to a very minimum. Be sure that aluminum does not come in contact with your product and is only used where necessary. Aluminum is minimal on our X-Series VFFS baggers. Any aluminum used is anodized or specially treated to 3-A standards or above to withstand cleaning agents.
5. Look for easy access not just through the machine, but beneath it. The lowest cross member on our 3-A-certified bagger is 6” off the ground. This allows for easy accessibility and cleaning under the vertical form fill seal machine.
6. Can you conduct a quick visual inspection of the machine? Remember, if you can’t see it, you can’t clean it. Our entire machine can be visually inspected within minutes without having to remove any covers. Wire and cables are loosely run through the machine and are not bound together. This allows for easy visual inspection and cleaning. Even the control box pivots for easy access to both sides of the machine. With an easily accessible design, you don’t need high-pressure water to access the parts you can’t reach. In fact, high pressure water just scatters and redistributes the debris.
7. Look for sealing jaws and back seal components that can be easily removed for cleaning. Our forming tube, sealing jaws, and back seal components can be quickly removed without the use of tools for easy cleaning. Even code dater assemblies can be removed with four bolts and cleaned off line. “Most importantly, remember that sanitary design is a worthwhile investment.”
8. What is the significance of 3-A certification? With 3-A certification, manufacturers have gone through a rigorous approval process and have had their equipment reviewed by an independent third party. For a copy of the 3-A certification issued to Triangle Package Machinery, click here.
9. Verify all certifications. It’s important to note that not all 3-A claims are true, so this is one area where the advice “trust but verify” should definitely be followed. 3-A regularly posts lists of companies who promote counterfeit 3-A certifications. (Click here for a link to this list.)
10. Most importantly, remember that sanitary design is a worthwhile investment. It not only reduces control points, cleaning time and the chance of product recalls but reduces the chance of spreading severe illnesses and even death. Any consumer incident can be detrimental to an entire industry.