Beer brewery turns to composite enclosures to meet sanitary requirements

Abita Brewing Co. converted its electronics enclosures to use composite versions from Stahlin several years ago and has used them to meet stringent USDA requirements.

Abita Brewing Co. (Covington, La., USA) in its first year of business starting in 1986 produced 1,500 barrels of beer. Today, Abita brews more than 125,000 barrels of beer and 8,000 barrels of root beer annually in its state-of-the-art facility. As it has grown, it continues to add new and updated equipment. All of the new equipment must be powered and controlled and meet many food-processing regulations, such as codes for regular cleaning of equipment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service directive states, “all food and non-food contact surfaces of facilities, equipment and utensils used in the operation of the establishment must be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as necessary to prevent the creation of unsanitary conditions and the adulteration of product.”

“All enclosures used in the facility are of NEMA 4X construction because of water and a variety of cleaning agents that are regularly used during the sanitization process. In addition, everything in the plant is constantly being exposed to many of these elements through the nature of the process,” states James Franklin, Abita’s plant engineer. Abrupt localized atmospheric changes within certain areas can result in hygroscopic cycling on nearby surfaces. The residuals of deposited agents result in ferrous metal products corroding at a very high rate. “This is the reason we now have a plantwide specification requiring the use of non-metallic enclosures in all areas,” adds Franklin.

As a result, Abita has developed a variety of smart solutions to protect electrical components and controls throughout the plant. It started off by first selecting Stahlin (Belding, Mich., USA) Non-Metallic Enclosures about 16 years ago. Ten years ago Abita replaced a NEMA 4 painted steel enclosure that could not survive in the harsh and corrosive environment, installing a Stahlin composite enclosure in its place. Abita says the original replacement Stahlin enclosure is still performing well and continues to provide the necessary protection for the electrical controls for one of the bottling line labelers.

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