For decades, paint has caused issues in food production. Thousands of food production companies struggle each year with painted or coated equipment and the myriad of issues they bring.  While paint related issues can be a difficult problem to solve, there are several sensible approaches modern food and beverage processors can take. The simplest solution is the implementation of stainless steel motors which eliminates the risk of chipping paint.

The State of Food Processing Motors: Then and Now

small medium and large size stainless steel motorsWhile stainless steel motors seem obvious in the world of food production, for years they were relatively unavailable, especially with motors above 10 horsepower. While washdown-duty motors have been available (motors specifically designed for use in food processing and other applications where the equipment is routinely exposed to washdown, chemicals, humidity, and moisture,) they were all painted. Food processing standards have been increasing over the years. Today, the industry has very high standards for both food safety and cleanliness. The widespread demand for stainless steel motors grew from these sensibly high standards and process equipment manufacturers can now affordably offer these options.

How Paint Chips Happen

Obviously cleanliness is essential in food processing and the chemicals used to sanitize these environments must penetrate and permeate adequately to sanitize. Today’s ultra-stringent standards and regulations lead to cleaning agents that strip paint from food processing equipment, possibly leading to paint that flakes into product during processing. Most painted motors don’t last more than two months before chipping and flaking begins. When the flaking does start, people scrub the affected motors in an attempt to clean them. This chips the paint more creating an unending cycle of greater uncoated metal and resulting rust. The presence of rust represents a red flag for inspectors, who may impart hefty related issues fines if they see flaking has begun.  Traditionally, the method for fixing the problem is to paint the motor regularly. Unfortunately, each additional coat of paint added to the motor has an increased propensity to crack and flake, which only exacerbates the problem. While some motors arrive from the factory already painted, very few manufacturing plants will tolerate factory-issue motor paint that is not white. White paint shows imperfections and wear more easily. As a result, manufacturers are trying to paint their new motors white. Unfortunately, white paint will often not adhere to a factory-issue undercoat, and this approach creates a higher risk of chipping and wear.

Stainless Steel Motors and RTEs

Today, ready-to-eat foods (RTEs) have become very popular. As a result, food processing plants around the world are producing them, including meats, cheeses, and more. While these foods are popular and delicious, they also contribute heavily to an environment providing ideal growing conditions for bacteria, including Listeria monocytogenes which can cause Listeriosis which is a serious infection.  There are many ways to prevent bacterial growth in RTEs, and one of the most effective is simply maintaining smooth surfaces throughout a food production plant, including the walls, floors, and all food preparation surfaces. When these surfaces are flat and flush, they’re easier to clean and less likely to harbor bacteria. Stainless steel motors make an excellent contribution in the battle against RTE related issues, since they perpetually maintain a smooth surface, resist corrosion and cracking, and are not painted so there is no flaking.

How Stainless Steel Motors Improve Sanitation

Stainless steel motors possess several properties that painted motors do not. They: 

  • Are easy to clean
  • Are impervious to cracking, and flaking 
  • Withstand today’s food processing solvents and cleaners. 

If you’re interested in investing in a stainless steel motor, you’ll find that they are easy to source up to about ten horsepower. In most places, you can buy them “off the shelf”.  If you need a machine with more than 10 horsepower, you’ll essentially need to have a custom motor built for you. While customizing a motor is expensive, it is a long-term investment in that you won’t have to contend with the paint issues we just discussed above. Because these stainless steel motors are mostly custom-built, they’ve also been evaluated carefully. Any time you order one of these motors, you can generally trust that there is a real person in the USA looking over every component of your motor. This creates a higher-quality product that would be expected to last longer than stock options. Additionally, there’s no difference in cleaning the stainless motor- use exactly the same solvents and pressure washers without worrying about paint issues.  If you’re interested in investing in stainless steel motors, contact Corenco. Our team will help you understand our various options and find the right machine for your needs.