Accessories and guard protection systems for machinery employed in the food industry: when is stainless steal a mandatory feature and when is it unnecessary?
Premise: what are the relevant standards?  
In regards to hygiene requirements for machinery employed in the food industry, there are two main normative references  which co-exist: standard UNI EN 1672-2 dated 2009“ Machinery for the food industry: basic concepts, hygiene requirements” and  standard  UNI EN ISO 14159 dated 2008: “ Machinery Safety: hygiene requirements for machinery design” , which complements the  Machinery Directive 42/2006.
The former is the most known and it is applied in the EU and its affiliated countries, the latter is an ISO standard which is internationally recognised as it is blends into the machinery directive. The co-existence of the two standards leads to a normative dispute which can be solved by referring to the  UNI EN ISO 12000-1 which states that considering that standard 1672 is a type “C”, it should overule standard 14159 which is a type “B”.
Leaving aside such bureaucratic classifications, and relying merely on common sense, standard 1672 can be recommended as a reference standard because it contains all the requirements outlined in 14159, yet it also upgrades such requirements  and provides a more detailed description of the conformance criteria.
The above mentioned regulations set the principle according to which designing and engineering solutions must seek for the best compromise between hygiene features and safety requirements to protect the operators. Such a compromise means that the former should not be at the expense of the latter, and viceversa. Therefore, machinery manufacturers are pushed to develop appropriate solutions which are inevitably more costly.  
The main issue is to understand if and when all the accessory components linked to a machinery for food industry application  need to be stainless steel. In other words, when the accessory engineering features should employ materials the cost of which is up to 20 times higher compared to a “standard” accessory. 
When do accessories need to be stainless steel and when not? 
Neither standard 1672 nor 14159 explicitly mention the need that accessories, i.e. components which are not strictly functional to production, must be designed with the same criteria applied to the machinery. Nonetheless, the machinery directive expressly requires the need to apply the same risk analysis to all those elements which constitute a production line, which means that in case of hygiene risks, the design and engineering criteria should  be extended to all components. In this regards it is worth mentioning that the norm explicitly refers to “safeguarding” (protectiong guards), to sensors, to doors and access points, to lids and covers assuming that such components are effectively subjected to the same criteria. 
The issue needs not to be raised in those cases in which, despite working in the food industry, there are no hygiene risks. For example in packaging lines which handle already packed food items. In such cases standard design criteria apply.
In any other case it is important to meet the requirements outlined in the relevant regulations. What follows is a brief analysis of the requirements which apply to access points and guard fencing protection systems. 
Different design and engineering criteria for different areas of risk. The case of guard fencing systems  
Standard 1672  identifies three areas with different hygiene risk defined according to the interaction such area may have with the food product:  
1 Food Area, i.e. the food comes in contact with this particular machinery component and it remains or returns into the production cycle (e.g. funnel, filter, conveyor, conveyor belt)  
2. Splash Area , i.e. the food comes in contact with the machinery component but does not return to the production cycle (e.g. separators, protection screens and other componetns subjected to splashes)   
3. No Food Area,o i.e. the food never comes in direct contact with the machinery element
Component conformance varies following decreasing criteria according to the above metioned areas where Food  has the most stringent requirements. It is important to underline that even in the No Food area  the criteria are nonetheless essentially different from standard design and engineering criteria. 
All material employed must be long-lasting, cleanable, easily disinfectable, fissure free, splint free, rough ends free and must prevent penetration of undesired material in the standard process cycle.
Even if it is impossible to apply guard fencing systems in the FOOD area, it is still worth taking a look at the design and engineering requirements for components in this area because the same criteria apply to the SPLASH area to which a low er risk factor is associated (Rz and/or Ra)
Materials must be:
1. resistant to corrosion 
2. non toxic
3. non assorbent 
4. must prevent migration of smells, dyes or coloring to the food  
5. surfaces must be cleanable, disinfectable therefore they must be rounded off and sealed  
6. surface design must take into account that food must not stop in fissures or compulsory transists in such a way which makes it difficult to be removed during cleaning
7. permanent joints like welded parts must be full, sealed and cleanable.  
8. openable joints systems which can be dissasembled must be designed in order to cater for full couplings and must be cleanable 
9. fixing systems like screws must be avoided if possible 
10. surfaces must allow independent drainage of liquids
11. inner angles, if cannot be avoided, must be cleanable and disinfectable  
12. hollow and dead spaces must be avoided, if this is not possible they must be cleanable and disinfectable  
13. accessories and doors must be designed in order to prevent the formation of filth. 
In the SPLASH area it is explicitly stated that inner angles need not be necessarily radiated, acute angles are acceptable as long as they are cleanable. 
In the NO FOOD area the materials employed must be treated (varnished) in order to guarantee resistance to corrosion, cleanability, disinfectability and to prevent any negative impact on the food being processed. Also the NO FOOD area requirements clearly state that materials and surfaces must not stop filth which may generate vermination and therefore must be easy to access for inspection, maintenance, cleaning and disinfection. Moreover, it is mentioned that frames must be effectively sealed off. 
Considering the persistent prescriptions for the NO FOOD area too, it appears clear  that guard fencing and protection systems must be designed appropriately to meet such requirements. The above mentioned features suggest that stainless steel should be employed (cleanability. disinfectability, integrity). Such a condition is further strengthened by the conformance criteria of surfaces outlined in  UNI EN ISO 4288 , which assess appearance and cleanliness of   STAINLESS STEEL.

Access' solutions for guard fencing and protection systems to be applied to machinery for the food industry   
Access' catalogue has two solutions which have been purposefully designed for  SPLASH AREA type SH  and  NO FOOD AREA type NF. Both solutions meet the requirements in standards  UNI EN ISO 12100, UNI EN ISO 13857 and ISO 14120, and they apply Access' patented Meta®  system for a quick assembly of panel to pole which has been adapted for this specific application. As the above mentioned conclusions have suggested, both solutions employ AISI A 304 Stainless Steel   and have been purposefully designed to meet the required specifications.
TYPE SH features : 
Panels and poles can be completely dissasembled and are cleanable. The panel mesh can be removed from frame and is interchangeable, mesh prevents finger trapping, surfaces are rounded off and have no rough ends or irregularities. 
1.Raw material   Stainless Steel AISI A 304
2. Finishing by mechanical polishing  
3. Tubular frame 25x25x1,5 mm without screw housings   
4. Anti-finger trapping mesh type TEC mesh 15x105 mm thread 3,0 mm
5. Assembly with mesh clamps in plastic suitable for food applications  
6. Frame welded with TIG and finished with abrasive carton grinder  
7. Sealing caps in plastic suitable for food applications  
8. Tubular fixing brackets  40x40x1,5 mm with no housings  
9. Profiled and raised  base plate to allow liquid drainage  
10.  META®  fixing kit with rounded head screws  
11.  META® cap with special profile  
TYPE NF features: 
Cleanable panels and poles, not interchangeable mesh fixed to frame, standard mesh, surfaces with rough ends and irregularities   
1.Raw material   Stainless Steel AISI A 304
2. Finishing by mechanical polishing  
3. Tubular frame 20x20x1,5 mm without screw housings   
4. Mesh 40x40 mm thread 3,0 mm
5. Assembled with electro-welding without soldering material
6. Frame welded with TIG and finished with abrasive carton grinder  
7. Sealing caps in plastic suitable for food applications  
8. Tubular fixing brackets  40x40x1,5 mm with no housings  
9. Profiled and raised  base plate to allow liquid drainage  
10.  META®  fixing kit with rounded head screws  
11.  META® cap with special profile  
As specified elsewhere, all panels in the Access  Penta and Quadra  range can be used for machines or production lines where hygiene risk is not present.  
As prescribed in the standard requirements Access protection systems SH  and  NF  come with maintenance instructions and instructions for component cleansing, as well as product technical data sheet with chemical composition,food compatibility characteristics and life cycle.   
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