High performance T-FIT® Hygiene and T-FIT®Process insulation reduces risk of condensation and cross-contamination.
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Condensation is a perennial, significant risk for food and beverage producers, and a common catalyst for the contamination that can damage product quality and harm brand reputations.

When condensation was identified recently as an issue for Karnataka Milk Producers Federation Ltd (KMF) the leading Indian dairy cooperative solved the problems using Zotefoams’ high-performance T-FIT insulation (www.t-fit.org). The installation of T-FIT Process and T-FIT Hygiene solutions has hugely reduced the risk from condensation and greatly reduced ongoing maintenance costs whilst delivering significant energy savings.

KMF is India’s second-largest dairy cooperative and, through its ‘Nandini’ brand, a market-leader in fresh and pasteurised milk products, including ice cream. Maintaining product quality is critical, so when an external compliance audit by the Food Safety and Standards Authority noted an issue with the existing insulation, KMF acted quickly. The traditional polyurethane foam and nitrile rubber pipe insulation was showing signs of wear in the form of cracks from thermal fatigue, allowing condensation ingress and thus the possibility of bacterial and fungal growth and possible cross-contamination.

Common problems

Condensation is common in chilled and frozen food production, where both seasonal temperatures and production flow vary. Cold pipework is particularly susceptible to condensation if the temperature at the pipe’s surface falls below the dew point of its environment, resulting in condensed water droplets that can transfer various impurities into the production process.

For KMF, a particular challenge was posed by regular changes in line temperature, between -5oC — during ice cream production — and a peak of 90oC during steam and Clean-in-Place (CIP) procedures. This was causing energy losses under both chilled and hot operating conditions. In addition, lye formation on the surface of tubes was also noticeable after CIP and the overall result was KMF personnel having to work unduly hard to maintain the rigorous quality standards necessary.

Purpose-designed for demanding environments

KMF worked closely with the T-FIT team in India to replace the existing insulation with T-FIT Hygiene and T-FIT Process technical insulation. Purpose-designed to target specific challenges in the most demanding, highly controlled production environments, Hygiene and Process are manufactured from Zotefoams’ ZOTEK® high-performance foams, with Hygiene produced from ZOTEK F – a fine, closed-cell PVDF foam and Process from ZOTEK N, a tough nylon foam.

Zotefoams’ proprietary three stage manufacturing process delivers a unique suite of in-use performance benefits, including ease of cleaning, immunity to most chemicals, a wide operating temperature range, excellent flammability credentials, and UV-resistance. Because all T-FIT products are also guaranteed to be particulate-free, installation can take place during production, with no need for PPE or special containment requirements such as tents or hoods.

T-FIT Hygiene, which is tailored to aseptic FMCG applications, and food processing in particular, was retrofitted to the chiller and ice cream filling lines to prevent condensation forming. T-FIT Process, designed for process areas demanding heat-tolerant insulation, was applied to the steam and CIP lines. Stable up to 200oC (EN14707), T-FIT Process withstands the temperature spikes that occur when pipes are steam-flushed to prevent contamination.

Major benefits

As well as solving the condensation problems at KMF, T-FIT Hygiene and T-FIT Process have delivered other major benefits compared to the previous polyurethane foam and nitrile rubber pipe insulation. T-FIT is far more durable, easier to maintain and has resulted in significant reductions in combined heat loss — by 96% on a 3-inch CIP line and 80% on a 2.5-inch chiller line. Over a year, these reductions add up to big savings in energy consumption.