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ROBOTIC RESOURCES

Food Processing Gets New Safety Controls

by (RIA Staff Interview with) Gary Ferguson, Managing Director, Schmersal Inc.
Robotic Industries Association

Food applications are important to many RIA members. Schmersal Inc., highly regarded for its robot and machine safeguarding products, has expanded its product line to include safety controls that meet stringent requirements for high-pressure washdown.  RIA caught up with, Gary Ferguson, Managing Director of Schmersal for a little Q & A session.

RIA – Rumor has it Schmersal has new products for the food industry, especially for meat packing. How did that come about?

Gary Ferguson – The Schmersal group recognized that there is a need for safety beyond the typical interlock and light curtain used in everyday automated applications. Certain applications, in particular the meat processing industry, call for special wash down requirements to reduce the possibility of bacteria growth on the controls themselves. Schmersal has designed products to meet these application needs.

RIA – What is the rating system that applies to wash down applications within the meat processing industry?

Gary Ferguson – In order to meet the needs from industry the IP69K rating was developed in Europe. The IP69K rating, which applies here in the U.S. as well, calls for products to be designed to withstand high pressure and high temperature wash down with minimal ingress. Based on this new rating Schmersal has designed a series of products to meet this rating for use in meat the meat processing industry.

RIA – Food and packaging applications are considered growth markets for the robotics industry. In fact, RIA is working with National Provisioner magazine to produce a webinar on robots for meat processing. What needs to be considered and how would a customer benefit?

Gary Ferguson – In many applications that require extreme high pressure wash downs, such as the food and beverage industry, the primary benefit realized would be the reduction in bacteria growth which contributes to safe food products. The secondary benefit is the life extension of the controls themselves because the products are designed to be used in high pressure areas they are not susceptible to water damage and failures because of ingress of water. This, of course, results in savings long term for the customer.

RIA – Schmersal has been an RIA member for more than eight years. What keeps you coming back?

Gary Ferguson – The Robotic Industries Association is well received with a high reputation in the eyes of our customers. And that is what Schmersal is all about; it’s a good fit. For Schmersal it is the recognition we receive through being a member of the RIA. The variety of other benefits that come with our membership, such as the free tabletop that we’re utilizing at the trade fair exhibits at National Robot Safety Conference XXI, are a bonus. They help cement this connection with customers. We plan to demonstrate products applicable to the food and beverage industry and more at the conference (which takes place in Dearborn, Michigan, October 26-28, 2009).

Schmersal Inc. is an RIA Supplier member located in Tarrytown, NY. For more information, contact Schmersal at (914) 347-4775 or visit www.schmersalusa.com.

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