He explains: “It is important for food manufacturers to associate vacuum packaging machines with value, not just the initial investment. They often just look at the cost of the machines and go for the cheapest possible. It means they need regular maintenance to check the pumps and change oil separators.
“If they went oil free - to a claw or screw pump – they would immediately eliminate the oil issue and the need for such regular maintenance. The pumps are more expensive initially but much better value in the long term because maintenance costs are reduced – no oil separators are needed – and you remove the issue of potential oil contamination in the food environment.”
Every food manufacturing plant is different – even when they are producing similar products. The age and configuration of machinery, the design of the plant and the operating environment mean there isn’t a fix-all solution for the vacuum packaging issues. Mauro Dote, Sales Engineer for Gardner Denver in Italy has worked with all kinds of food producers over his 10 years in the industry. He acknowledges that finding a solution that suits everyone is very difficult as companies have varying priorities but all can do something to minimise the risks of vacuum pumps contaminating the food packaging environment by calling on the advice of experts.
“Everyone is different so we must address their needs with that in mind,” explains Mauro. “For some companies energy consumption is a priority so we must look at how we can gain optimal production from their machines. Efficiency is what they are looking for so we must focus on keeping the pumps operating with a minimum of downtime. This is where our company’s expertise is so valuable because can advise on everything to do with vacuum packaging, it’s not just about selling a machine.”
Marc Geurts, Sales Engineer for Gardner Denver in the Netherlands believes the lack of knowledge about the different types of vacuum pumps available means that food producers won’t always have the best equipment for their particular use.
“Very little regard is paid to the vacuum pump when the machine is bought,” explains Marc. “Food producers require a wide range of different vacuum levels depending on what and how they are sealing and the pump can play a huge part in the efficiency and effectiveness of the machine and what it generates but they aren’t often aware of that.
“Looking to change to dry running pumps can, on the face of it, seem expensive but when you factor in the additional performance you can generate from the machine it can quickly deliver value. Plus there aren’t the ongoing maintenance costs. We just need people to open up their minds to what different kinds of pumps can achieve.”