Linear Guides Support Food and Beverage Production

Food and beverage production comes with a unique set of challenges. Like other manufacturers, food and beverage processors must not only operate with high levels of efficiency, but also their equipment must be reliable enough to withstand harsh environments, heavy loads and high-speed production. 

To improve production line efficiency, many participants in the food and beverage industry continue to add more automated equipment to their facilities and much of this equipment relies on linear motion. However, careful selection of the components that provide linear motion is imperative as the equipment must be able to provide high levels of reliability, even in challenging food and beverage production environments. For this reason, linear guides may be a great choice for this sector. 

This blog will discuss the various types of equipment that can be made more efficient and reliable with the use of linear guide rail systems, as well as why linear guides are an effective component for food and beverage production equipment. 

The Linear Guide Rail Advantage 

Linear guides are mechanical systems used to support and carry loads, while ensuring straight and level linear movement of components in equipment and machinery. Linear guide rail systems are used in applications that require smooth, low-friction motion in equipment that demands highly precise straight-line motion where deviation from the assigned path is not permissible. 

Linear guides can provide these features due to their design. Typically, linear guides contain a linear base, a slider and ball or roller bearings. The slider is attached to the moving component and the linear base is mounted to a stationary surface. Ball or roller bearings permit low-friction movement between the slider and the linear base. Linear guides are often selected for applications that demand high strength, ultra-high precision and/or accuracy to micrometers. 

When using a linear guide rail system, users can expect: 

  • An accurate and repeatable motion profile. 
  • Reliable and robust construction that makes them suitable for high-speed applications. 
  • High-loading capabilities that fully support the load along the length of travel. 
  • High levels of efficiency and low levels of friction and vibration as they are designed to roll loads across rails, so less work is needed to drive the system to move the load. 
  • Rugged and reliable construction that supports high strength. 

Food and Beverage Production Equipment

When automating food and beverage machinery with the goal of production line efficiency improvement, there are several categories of equipment where low-friction, high-strength, high accuracy and reliability are essential, including:

Material handling equipment: Linear motion is necessary in equipment used to convey, sort and pack food and beverage products. Linear guide rail systems may be used to move machine components, such as on a conveyor, or may be used to provide linear motion to position food and beverage products on various lines. High-quality linear guide rails provide the force, strength, speed and reliability to support material handling applications and help support production line efficiency improvements. 

Bottling and packaging machinery: Linear guide rails are good choices for equipment that is used to bottle and package food and beverage products as these applications often employ multiple lanes technology to index the lines of foods to enhance efficiency and throughput. Linear guides can be used to accurately and efficiently move products along these production lines, as well as in sealing or capping operations.  

Processing equipment: Operations such as cutting, slicing, extruding and chopping are essential in food and beverage production. Equipment for these activities relies heavily upon linear motion that can provide high levels of speed, consistency and precision, which makes it an ideal application for linear guide rail systems. 

Filling equipment: Food and beverage production requires a lot of filling equipment and that equipment must provide accurate and consistent fill control for a variety of bottle, cup, bag and container heights that will likely change with frequency. The low friction, high precision and high speeds provided by linear guide rail systems make them a great choice for enhancing the efficiency of filling lines. 

How to Improve Production Line Efficiency with Linear Guides

Linear guides provide many of the characteristics needed in food and beverage production equipment, including high-speed, high-precision, high-strength, low-friction motion profiles, making them a great choice in equipment that is intended to improve production line efficiency. 

The other significant advantage of linear guide rail systems in food and beverage production equipment is their design, which provides high levels of reliability. 

One of the reasons they are so reliable in operation is that the frictional resistance of a linear guide is minimal when it is presented in a slide guide. Additionally, with a properly designed linear guide, lubrication can be easily supplied through the grease nipple on the carriage or by using a centralized oil pumping system, decreasing frictional resistance and supporting accurate operation without issue for long periods. They can also provide a dense chrome (TDC) coating for corrosion resistance in wash down environments common within the food industry. Along with adding food grade grease to each carriage, this ensures the carriage is in spec with FDA regulations. 

Further, when optimally designed with a four-way load design, linear guides remain robust and reliable even when bearing loads in all four directions: radial, reversed radial and two lateral directions. 

High-quality linear guide rail systems, such as PMI linear guideways from Accu Tech USA, provide many advantages over conventional slide guides in food and beverage applications that require straight-line, smooth motion with low friction, high speeds, high accuracy and high reliability – all of which will help improve production line efficiency in the food and beverage industry. Reach out to Accu Tech USA, a Tavoron Company, today to see how your food and beverage application can benefit from PMI linear guides.