Open vs. Closed Hinge Belting. Why is the difference important in the Food and Beverage Industries?
When it comes to the food and beverage processing industries, running a sanitary operation is critical. Sanitary conveying processes ensure contamination is minimized, regulations are met and customers receive the safest product possible. Plastic modular belting has been around for decades and is the preferred method for conveying numerous food and beverage products. While the polymer-based belts are ideal for both industries, there is one decision that all end users need to make when selecting a belt: closed hinge or open hinge belts. While modular plastic belts offer a wide range of options giving more or less exposure to the hinge depending on your unique needs, the design of the hinge plays a large role in ensuring product safety in certain applications.
Open hinge belting is the best option when sanitation and contamination prevention is the most important part of your conveying application. It boils down to a very simple principle — if you can see it, you can clean it. Open hinge belting is exactly what it sounds like, a modular belt with partially exposed or uncovered hinges, enabling you to see the rod that connects the rows of belting. In food processing applications, contaminants can easily work their way into small spaces. The gaps exposing the hinge in a plastic belt allows them to be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated, and allows less room for debris to accumulate. Because they’re easier to access and clean, open hinge belts can help reduce water and chemical usage, as well as time in labor spent on cleaning.
Closed hinge belting brings a different value to the table than open hinge. What it lacks in contamination prevention, it makes up in strength and abrasion resistance. For applications where abrasives are present or strength is a primary concern, closed hinge plastic belts provide more advantages. While there are methods for cleaning plastic belts regardless of open or closed hinge, closed hinge belts reduce access to critical areas making it susceptible to debris collection in between cleanings, not a good option for some food processing applications – especially those that deal with direct food contact. However, closed hinge belts are ideal for beverage, packaging and material handling applications due to their increased strength, abrasion resistance and impact resistance. Because contamination and pathogen buildup is less of a concern in beverage or packaging applications, the tradeoff of exposed hinges for superior impact protection is ideal.
Selecting the Right Belt for Your Food or Beverage Application
Hinge design is one of the many options provided by customizable modular belting, but it isn’t the only choice you have when specifying your operation. Elements such as pitch, transfer capabilities, temperature, material and application are all important factors in determining what belt is the best for your specific situation. A belt that is ideal for processing seafood or poultry might not be the right choice for conveying bottled or canned goods. Taking the time to discuss your needs with an expert can give you the ease of mind to know you have the right belt for the job, can minimize cost, prevent unplanned downtime and reduce wear on other components, increasing the service life of your entire operation.
To learn more about Rexnord’s full suite of conveying products, visit Rexnord.com or contact one of our service specialists at 1-866-REXNORD.