Across many industrial settings, keeping contamination out of compressed air systems is increasingly critical to any sterile or aseptic manufacturing process. Eliminating the microbes is one thing, finding that they're there is another.
In such environments as food processing, according to Parker Hannifin, devices that were capable of sampling compressed air systems for microbes were expensive, required extensive training, were not easy or intuitive to use, and the wait time for samples was long.
Contaminants in compressed air systems typically are drawn into the compressor, caused by the operation of the compressor, or are attributable to compressed air storage devices and distribution. In the case of food processing, compressed air might be hitting the food on counters, conveyors, and in the packaging process. The source of the contamination, however, may be attributed to the warm, dark, and moist environment within the compressed air system itself.
An alternative was recently unveiled. The Parker Balston CAMTU detection device enables fast and easy testing for contamination in compressed air supplies used with food products or food packaging and processing equipment.
Weighing less than a pound, and featuring connection tubing, shut-off valve, pressure regulator, and metering orifice, the results take 24 to 48 hours with the portable system. The device assists the manufacturer in detecting Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) risks.
What was interesting to me in looking at the causes of food contamination within the food processing industry, compressed air contamination is really not in the top problems specifically identified. There are many industries where microbial contamination is problematic. This has me wondering whether the contaminants in compressed air systems, used not only in food processing but in beverage and pharmaceutical industries, HVAC, and other types of packaging processes, are being tested for and removed. Just sayin'.
Since compressed air is so widely used, do you see any potential for microbial contamination in your industry segment?