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Top Mounted Installation of Agitators

Agitators permanently mounted are not required to be removable if they are readily accessible to be effectively cleaned via spray, directed flow, immersion or cleaning-in-place (CIP) and if they do not interfere with drainage from the tank. Top entering agitators with shaft seals are typically mounted to a vessel using a flanged or hygienic clamp connection, with hygienic O-rings or gaskets to seal between the mating surfaces. The selected mounting arrangement must support the agitator mounting design loads while achieving an appropriate seal. The upstand for the top mounting of the agitator should have limited length L because of the difficulty of cleaning of the annular space in-place. The annular space between the agitator shaft and agitator nozzle shall, for cleaning purposes, have the target maximum L/A ratio of 2:1. At least a 25 mm gap is required to

The top entering agitator with motor

FIGURE 7.23 The top entering agitator with motor (1) is mounted to a vessel using a flanged or hygienic clamp connection (2), with hygienic O-rings or gaskets (3) to seal between the mating surfaces. A retained gasket having limited compression is more hygienic than an O-ring in the face for sealing the joint. The agitator shaft (4) passes through the mounting flange via a seal (5). The upstand (6) for the top mounting of the agitator should have limited length L because of the difficulty of cleaning the annular space (7) in-place. The annular space between the agitator shaft (4) and agitator nozzle (6) shall, for cleaning purposes, have the target maximum L/A ratio of 2:1. Agitator motors (1) should be equipped with permanently lubricated bearings. Where lubrication is required, the design and construction shall be such that lubrication cannot leak, drip, or be forced into the product zone. Self-lubricating agitator shaft (packing) seals (8) shall be provided with convenient means for adjustment to prevent leakage and to allow for complete drainage to the exterior. In that way, accumulations of foreign material in the event that leakage does occur can be avoided. Further, a drip protection plate (9) can be provided to prevent lubricant from entering the product zone (Moerman and Kastelein, 2014).

facilitate CIP spray coverage (Fig. 7.23) (CFCRA, 1997; BISSC, 2003; ASME BPE committee, 2014).

Agitator motors should be equipped with permanently lubricated bearings. Where lubrication is required, the design and construction shall be such that lubrication cannot leak, drip, or be forced into the product zone. Self- lubricating agitator shaft (packing) seals shall be provided with convenient means for adjustment to prevent leakage and to allow for complete drainage to the exterior (Fig. 7.23). In that way, accumulations of foreign material in the event that leakage does occur can be avoided. Further, drip protection is commonly provided to prevent lubrication from entering the product zone.

Rotary shafts running at a high number of revolutions are held in-place in an adaptor sleeve with a radial roller bearing

FIGURE 7.24 Rotary shafts running at a high number of revolutions are held in-place in an adaptor sleeve with a radial roller bearing (1). (A) Single dynamic seals (2) are lubricated by a lubricant (top-mounted agitator) or the product (bottom-mounted agitator) which may be transported past the seal and back again, contaminating the product further. They may be easy to clean if properly designed but they will not prevent the passage of microorganisms, and hence they are not suitable in aseptic process equipment. There is also a narrow annular space (3) at the product side in the proximity of the seal, which makes cleaning very difficult. (B) A double seal arrangement (4) allows the use of a barrier medium (5), such as steam, hot water, condensate, or a disinfectant solution that makes it well-suited from a microbiological standpoint. The volume of the annular gap around the shaft is increased (6), improving the cleanability of the seal and its proximity (Holah, 2000).

All surfaces of shaft seal ring assemblies passing through a bowl or cover shall be accessible, removable or retractable to permit cleaning of all product zone surfaces.

Rotary shafts running at a high number of revolutions are held in-place in an adaptor sleeve with a radial roller bearing. Single dynamic seals (Fig. 7.24A) will not prevent the passage of microorganisms. If properly designed, they may be easy to clean but not bacteria tight because rotating shafts always exhibit some axial mobility. This makes single dynamic seals unsuitable for aseptic equipment. A narrow annular space at the product side in the proximity of the seal, such as that shown in Fig. 7.24A, must be avoided because it is difficult to clean. The space around the seal should be as wide as possible. Rotary shafts with double seal arrangement allow the use of a barrier medium, and have been shown to be well-suited from a microbiological standpoint. In Fig. 7.24B, one seal is seated rigidly in the housing (longitudinal shading), while the other moves with the shaft. The sealing surface between the two seals must be lubricated. If the shaft opening has product flowing through it, which could be the case with agitators having a shaft entry from the bottom of vessels, the product itself can be directly used as lubricant. The product flowing through can be carried away by the barrier medium, which could be steam, hot water, condensate or a disinfectant solution (e.g., alcohol). The sterile fluid may scavenge the microorganisms that enter the space between the seals, maintaining sterile conditions. Which flushing fluid should be used will depend on the product and the process but both the barrier medium and lubricant chosen must be product-compatible. To avoid transfer of microorganisms from the outside of the equipment to the inside the distance between the two seals must always be sufficiently large (Lelieveld et al., 2003; Hauser et al., 2007).

Bearings in the product area should be avoided but an application may mandate the use of foot bearings. In the example given, if the shaft of a top entry agitator is very long, a foot bearing may be required at the bottom of the vessel to steady it. It shall be of a packless bearing type. The foot bearing must be mounted well clear of the base so as not to impede free draining of product and to allow easy cleaning of their supports. Design features and/or procedures required to ensure cleanability are: drain holes, spray ball, and/or wand additions, increased CIP flow, operating the steady bearing immersed in CIP fluid. The arrangement of wear surfaces (bushing, shaft, or shaft sleeve) shall facilitate drainage. A longitudinal or helical groove may be cut in either the bush or the shaft. It should be deep enough to allow access into the bearing of either the product as a lubricant or the detergent for cleaning (Fig. 7.25). Sealed bearings should not be used in the product area because they can cause hygiene risks at their seals. If, however, their use is unavoidable, their lubricants should be specified as being allowed in contact with food.

(A) Cleaning may be impeded due to too-tight clearance (1) in the foot bearing

FIGURE 7.25 (A) Cleaning may be impeded due to too-tight clearance (1) in the foot bearing

itself (2), and due to too little clearance between it and the base (3). Horizontal ledges (4) where product may accumulate or where liquids are not allowed to drain must be avoided. (B) The foot bearing is now mounted clear of the bottom of the vessel (5), allowing free flow of product and cleaning solution around it. Bearing pedestal support members (6) should preferably be made of solid construction. Hollow constructions are not recommended, but if used, they shall be of sealed (welded) construction and inspected for integrity. Round legs are preferred over flat members, even if the latter are radiused. The legs should be flush welded in-place to the tank bottom (7). All welds must be ground and polished to blend smoothly with the adjacent surfaces. The agitator shaft is provided with grooves (8) in the bearing area to facilitate both lubrication by fluid products and cleaning. Sloped and radiused surfaces (9) reduce the probability of debris getting lodged on the top of the foot bearing and allow for proper drainage of liquids (e.g., cleaning solution) (CFCRA, 1997; Lelieveld et al., 2003; Hauser et al., 2004b; ASME BPE committee, 2014). Courtesy of Campden BRI.

The inner tank wall

FIGURE 7.26 The inner tank wall (2) is provided all around with thermal insulation to keep food products (1) at the correct temperature. Rockwool (3) doesn’t give rise to unhygienic conditions provided it is kept vapor tight by installing aluminum or stainless steel cladding (4) of appropriate thickness. Joints facing downwards must be continuously welded (5) to avoid any ingress of dust, liquor, air, and moisture.

Good Insulation Practices

Non-chloride-releasing insulation material should be used. For thermal insulation of vessels, appropriate qualities of rock wool are acceptable. It is highly recommended to install fully welded, vapor-tight, aluminum, or stainless steel cladding of appropriate thickness that resists tear and abrasion (Fig. 7.26). The exterior of the insulation protection should be smooth, properly sealed to avoid ingress of dust, liquor, air and moisture, and should be installed in a correct way with joints facing downwards. Such ingress could promote corrosion between the walls, assisted by possible microbial growth.

 
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