Pneumatic Actuators Designed to Handle Food Processing Wash Down

self-foaming general purpose cleaners are applied
Self-foaming, caustic cleaners are
applied to everything in the room.
Cleaning procedures in food processing plants are beyond meticulous. The have to be. The result could be the introduction of dangerous bacteria that can cause sickness, or even death. Regular, painstaking, and methodical cleaning of equipment, piping, valves, actuators, walls and floors is critical for product safety.

Many plants operate two 8-hour shifts, and reserve a third shift for a meticulous cleaning. During the cleaning shift, all equipment is locked out and tagged for safety, and then disassembled to provide access to all the small "nooks and crannies" where food and bacteria can hide. The next step involves a pre-rinse where any visible product debris is removed with hot water. Up next is the soap and scrub phase, where self-foaming general purpose cleaners are applied on all the equipment, walls, floors and drains of the production facility and then scrubbed with brushes and sponges.

It’s important to note that everything in the room is washed with these caustic and/or acidic cleaners.

The next step is typically another hot water wash-down, followed by careful visual inspections using flashlights to ensure all debris has been removed. The equipment is then re-assembled and swabbed with bioluminescence agents that glow when potential problem areas are found. Many processors go one step further and include a final step where they again flood the equipment, walls, and floor with cool water and more caustic sanitizer.

Kinetrol Blueline
Kinetrol Blueline
for foodservice
It's obvious that this process is extremely tough on equipment and machine components. Any device in this environment must withstand frequent wash downs with foaming acids, self-foaming chlorinated caustic cleaners, and sanitizers. All piping, valves and fittings are stainless steel, which provides excellent cleaniblility and withstands the harsh chemicals. For components (such as valve actuators) that are not produced in stainless steel, the Food and Drug Administration allows for the use of "Resinous and Polymeric Coatings” (properly known as 21 CFR 175.300).

Recently, Kinetrol introduced it's new “Blueline” pneumatic actuator which was tested and meets the requirements of 21 CFR 175.300. This new actuator stands up to the wash down chemicals used in plant cleaning making them available for use in areas where other pneumatic actuators are not approved, or simply can not stand up to the environment.

The Blueline Series provides food and beverage processors all the time-proven benefits of the Kinetrol PLUS provides an affordable option for tough chemical wash-down areas. For more information, visit Kinetrol USA's website or call 972-447-9443.

Boiler Damper Drives: Pneumatic Vane Actuators Excel

damper drive
Damper drive with pneumatic
vane actuator (Kinetrol).
Industrial and commercial boilers burn much more efficiently when the combustion air is accurately controlled. Reduced emissions and higher BTU/Fuel ratios are achieved through precise draft control. One method to control draft air is with dampers to manage volumetric airflow.  Another role of the damper in industrial boilers is to control the recirculation of flue gases for tighter emissions control. In both cases, improved combustion, through proper air/fuel mixing and controlled recirculation, greatly improves combustion efficiency and also lowers fuel cost (saves money).

Damper drive with pneumatic vane actuator
Damper drive (side mount) installed.
The mechanical devices used to open, close and modulate dampers are critical to precise control. The “motors” used to move the louvers and dampers can be electrically operated or pneumatic operated. Electrically operated damper drives have historically been favored, but the shift to retro-fit electric drives with pneumatic damper drives has been significant in the last two decades. When pneumatic vane actuators were first introduced for damper drive service, their virtues were quickly discovered. Their inherent design and operating advantages apply perfectly for precise damper control. These design and operating advantages are:
damper drive
Damper drives on round dampers.
  • Precise, smooth signal to movement response
  • 100 percent duty cycle
  • Continuous modulating service
  • No overheating
  • High speed/high-torque
  • Fast full stroke open/close
  • Very easily serviced
  • Excels in harsh, high-temperature operating environments
  • Effectively zero air consumption in resting state
Along with these performance features, pneumatic vane drives can replace electric damper drives in-place, with the same footprint and mounting dimensions, making retrofit fast and easy. Considering all of the above, one can argue it makes sense to replace all electric drives with pneumatic vane actuator drives.  In the movement toward better environmental control, and greater operating efficiencies, upgrading to pneumatic vane actuator damper drives for boiler damper control is an excellent choice.

Lower Total-Cost-of-Ownership in Poor Process Environments with Pneumatic Vane Actuators

Design advantages for use in poor process conditions (click for larger view).
Clean, dry instrument air is critical for pneumatic instruments and actuators to work properly. In remote, dirty process control environments, like refineries, chemical plants, power plants, water treatment facilities, pulp & paper mills, or mining facilities, providing clean instrument air is challenging,  costly and problematic.  Along with poor instrument air, the ambient air in these areas is generally filled with dust and contaminants. Process equipment must be engineered to withstand these conditions, and devices with low tolerance to dust, dirt, condensate, and poor ambient air quality (such as rack and pinion actuators) are to be avoided. Devices in these areas are costly to maintain as shut-downs and repairs are very expensive.

For the operation of pneumatically controlled valves, and as a better alternative to rack and pinion actuators, Kinetrol rotary vane actuators are an excellent choice. Their simple design, with one moving part, and an elegantly engineered vane, inherently protects the actuator from bad instrument air. Kinetrol's use of double opposed polyurethane lip seals, backed by stainless steel expanders, ensure long-term lip seal contact and effective sealing for years of maintenance free life. The vane, lip seals, and expanders actually provide a self-cleaning, or wiping, mechanism for any moisture, dirt or dust entering the interior of the actuator. In effect, the vane actuator's design "sweeps away" the debris that will cause other actuators to fail.

A considerable cost savings can be calculated given the trouble-free performance Kinetrol vane actuators provide. Assuming both a Kinetrol and standard rack and pinion actuator cost approximately the same, and that the life of a typical rack and pinion actuator in these environments is approximately 1 year, you can easily see the savings. By factoring in the replacement cost for an new actuator, and the cost of labor to install, you’ll find a standard rack and pinion is at least 2.5x the cost of Kinetrol over a 2 year period.

Kinetrol actuators have a well-earned reputation for operating trouble-free for years in the most difficult environments. Considering their years of maintenance-free service, it’s easy to understand the significantly lower total-cost-of-ownership they deliver.

For more information, visit Kinetrol USA at or call 972-447-9443.

Rugged Design Makes This Vane Actuator the Best Choice for Any Valve or Damper Automation Job

Watch the video below for a quick understanding of why Kinetrol Vane Actuators provide the longest service life in the toughest valve and damper applications.