In most industries, new regulations and standards force equipment manufacturers to confront increasingly demanding challenges. For instance, food processing equipment manufacturers must develop machines that are not only safe for the user, but also safe for the food that passes through them. The equipment must be easy to clean and sterilize to prevent bacteria build-up. It must also be corrosion-resistant and able to seal out contaminants.
Marel (Reykjavik, Iceland) continually searches for new ways to overcome these challenges when developing new food processing equipment. When the company recently began developing a new grading machine range, it realized that the design was very demanding on the access hardware-specifically the hinges. Two hinged, stainless steel covers protect the operator while the machine is working. The covers provide quick access to the interior of the machine for cleaning, protect against food infiltration, and withstand the working environment.
The hinges are the key operational points of the covers. The hinges hold the panel in place when in an upright or opened position, as well as help control and slow the movement of the panel as the operator places it in its horizontal or closed position. The covers must be constructed of durable materials that withstand frequent use and industrial cleaning solutions. The hinges must also meet these requirements.
"For the design to work, we had to find a hinge that is strong enough to withstand the acid and alkaline that are used to clean the equipment, and one that is durable enough to stand up to frequent use," says Arni Sigurdsson, senior mechanical designer at Marel. "That's why we turned to Southco."
Marel's engineering team used Southco's (Concordville, PA) online product configurator to help it find the best product. The product configurator allows engineers to use their own design criteria to configure the best latch or hinge in seconds. Marel quickly decided on Southco's large-size adjustable friction hinge and ordered samples to test in its prototypes. "The whole process was fast, easy and intuitive," says Sigurdsson.
The hinge is constructed of stainless steel, acetyl and polycarbonate components. These components are corrosion-resistant, making it easy to clean. It is strong and durable, with a maximum prevailing torque of 4 newton-meters. It can withstand a tensile load of 3,110 newtons, and an operating temperature range of -5 to 65 C. The hinge also has a special feature that enables doors to be held open, partially open or closed. The adjustable friction can be preset to the desired torque by turning the adjusting screw.
"This is a good quality hinge," says Sigurdsson. "The friction feature helps hold the panels during the cleaning phase, and it easily meets the rest of our requirements."
For more information about hinges, call 610-459-4000 or visit www.southco.com.