Enhancing Manufacturing Components in the Food and Beverage Industry: A Guide to Hardfacing

grocery store aisle with various types of food displayed

The food and beverage industry is a staple of our everyday lives. If this industry isn’t producing well, we won’t eat or eating costs a whole lot more. Keeping these manufacturing lines running and running efficiently is one key aspect of keeping the cost of essential food items manageable. All manufacturing equipment wears out eventually but in the high volume and speed environments of food manufacturing lines, there are some parts that wear out faster and cause significant maintenance down time. This in turn causes lost production time and increases the overall cost of the product. One way to mitigate these costs is to prevent the wear and corrosion issues in manufacturing components before they start. This lengthens the time between maintenance shutdowns and prevents unexpected ones. One of the easiest ways to do this is through hardfacing.

What is Hardfacing? 

Hardfacing is a broad term used to describe adding hard material to a less hard substrate. This can be anything from thermal spray, to welding to laser cladding. The benefits of each of these types are numerous and each one has its own place in the world of enhancing the life of food and beverage manufacturing equipment. Let’s explore three scenarios in which hardfacing could help extend the life of components: screw conveyors, conveyance rolls, and packaging equipment. 

Screw Conveyors and Other Augers 

large screw conveyor that has been worn down from use

Screw conveyors and augers are used to move a variety of media in food production. Some of which are very abrasive. The best hardfacing for these are either welded or spray and fused. These provide metallurgically bonded coatings that can extend the life of these components. They can be used to protect the flights of the augers or even the roots if the environment requires it. There are many different materials that can be used depending on the temperature, pH, and other factors of the operating environment. 

Conveyance Rolls 

conveyance line with rolls

On a smaller scale, hardfacing methods in the thermal spray family can be helpful for conveyance rolls. Not just for wear but for maintaining performance on production lines. Like the print industry, the tension in production lines is important for maintaining automation and timing. Thermal spray coatings can increase friction and prevent wear to, not only create longer times between maintenance, but better production efficiencies. Different thermal spray coatings and methods of application can produce varying surfaces of roughness to fit the need of the situation. 

Packaging Equipment 

Another important factor in food production is packaging. Packaging equipment, like any other manufacturing equipment, experience wear from repeated motion and use. Thermal spray coatings can be used to protect these surfaces and extend their service life. Parts like slitters, fingers, and guides can all benefit from wear and corrosion resistant thermal spray coatings. Even better, these coatings can be removed and reapplied to ensure that parts last even longer. 

Hardfacing for the Food and Beverage Industry 

Hardface coatings such as thermal spray coatings as well as hardface weld coatings can add great value to the food and beverage industry. Screw conveyors, conveyance rolls, and packaging equipment are just a few examples of the applications of these coatings. Wherever there is excessive wear or corrosion, hardfacing could be the solution. It is not the end all be all, but it can fit well in the food and beverage industry. If you have manufacturing equipment that is wearing out every few weeks or months, a protective coating may help keep it running at optimum performance longer. A hardfacing supplier should be able to help you determine if their coatings are the right fit.