Is component traceability a requirement in your industry? In the automotive industry, this has helped managed recall situations and investigation of component failures. Are the food and beverage, or pharmaceutical manufacturers as up-to-date on what their seals are made of, or when suppliers make similar changes?
Unlike many other industries, the automotive industry requires in-depth knowledge about the manufacturer of all seals in their vehicles. More specifically they are required to know the exact specification that each component is expected to meet. Their suppliers are expected to have certain processes in place that enable them to provide lot traceability for virtually all products they provide that enter each vehicle – something that is not required by either the food & beverage or pharmaceutical industries!
It is not just the automotive industry that does this – though their recalls often get quite a bit of press. Other industries such as the Aerospace, Heavy Duty, and Oil & Gas industries all have various levels of traceability required by their suppliers – even seal suppliers. Providing an EPDM seal isn’t enough, not all EPDM’s are equal. Does your company have such requirements?
Why is material traceability important?
Having an understanding of the material’s origins, time of production, and its properties provide the end user some level of reduced variation in their processes. Throughout food, beverage, dairy, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, EPDM materials are used to seal various joints – including hygienic unions. However, EPDM is used in many applications, including gaskets for car radiators, solar panels, pond liners, industrial respirators, roofing membranes, and even tie-down straps purchased in your local hardware store. The desired properties of the EPDM material in these applications can vary significantly, causing the formulations to be very different; but all are EPDM. Even if you are assured that the EPDM you are using is appropriate, how do you know if you are getting the same material consistently? How many raw polymer suppliers does your current seal manufacturer use? More importantly, can your current seal supplier guarantee that you consistently get the same product and performance that equally meets your needs each and every time?
Improved quality - less risk - increased profits
Ensuring consistent performance in your manufacturing processes significantly reduces risk, lowers costs and with that the opportunity of batch failures or inferior end products. The more you know about the components that come in contact with your product, the better chance you have of ensuring your customers are receiving a quality product.
One solution to this dilemma comes from companies like Parker – who mix their own materials in their own controlled mixing facilities – have traceability and lot/batch control all the way to the mixing center as shown in the picture to the left. This ensures that the final properties of the compound will be consistent over time. If an ingredient becomes obsolete, the end user can be notified of the change taking place and validated data to guarantee no change in specification or performance supplied.
Ask yourself – have you ever considered the source of your seals? Does not fully knowing the origins of your seals and their performance characteristics unnecessarily increase the opportunity for batch failures?
For more information regarding Parker’s hygienic sanitary gasket, visit this support link and watch a short video below.
This article contributed by Emanuel Guerreiro, Industrial Market Development Manager, Parker Hannifin Integrated Sealing Systems Division.