The welding specification for sanitary and process piping across industries such as food, dairy and pharmaceuticals plays a huge part in industry standards.
Around the world, industries such as these are coming under increased scrutiny to assure the safety of their products. As well as reducing manufacturing costs and complete the job to higher quality standards than ever before.
The capability of orbital tig welding (making a smooth crevice-free inner weld bead, thus decreasing the affinity for colonisation and growth of microorganisms on a repeatable basis) has subsidized huge improvements in process piping technology. Orbital welding is a truly global economy, due to the specialised nature of the process, equipment and personnel can be sourced from around the world for a job in a particular country.
For example operators can be sourced from Europe, equipment from the USA for a job in Asia, or vice versa! State of the art equipment and expertise often come with a price tag to match, but the critical nature of the job at hand can be argued as priceless in some cases when we are dealing with hygiene and the general public.
As technology has changed over the years, so have industry standards; important for regulating and assuring consistent quality throughout. As early as the 1950s, the dairy industry recognised the need for superior quality and penetration welds to retain the cleanability of sanitary pipework within dairy plants.
Industries such as bioprocessing and semiconductor have led the way in demand for smooth product, contact surfaces which has resulted in a huge development of associated process piping technology and equipment fabrication technology, which includes orbital welding.
All of these changes in industry practices (a whole lot more that are not mentioned here!), have contributed to the level of industry standards that continue to be re-written today, as excellence is strived for across the board.
Some of these standards include the ASME Bioprocessing Equipment Standard (BPE-97)², the AWS D18.1/D18.2 specification for welding austenitic steel tube and pipe systems in sanitary/hygienic applications³ and the ISPE series of Pharmaceutical Engineering Baseline Guides.
These baseline guides are technically speaking not standards, but offer guidelines with assisting the end user to comply with FDA regulations for facilities used in the production of drugs.
A live copy of the Food Safety Modernisation Act from the FDA can be found here. As you can imagine it is a long text, in summary it is designed to prevent foodborne illness instead of previous focus on responding to it.
In turn, the sanitary welding procedure has been updated to reflect this. Being thoroughly coded and standardised to minimise the risk of contamination in food and beverage processing industries. One of these being the need for all welded surfaces to be free of cracks and crevices, where food remnants may get lodged and cause contamination. Enter orbital TIG welding and it’s ability to produce smooth surface results.
AMI (Arc Machines Inc) offer a variety of orbital GTAW equipment for stainless steel sanitary process piping in the food, dairy and pharmaceutical industries, which Westermans carries in stock – used and refurbished, along with other popular manufacturers including Polysoude and Orbitalum.
The benefits of using orbital welding equipment for applications within the fore mentioned industries include corrosion resistant and clean surface, uniform fully penetrated weld bead to prevent contamination and cost effectiveness vs manual welding.
The cost of orbital welding and other advances in stainless steel fabrication technology must be considered in light of the high cost of contamination of food and pharmaceutical products.