Energy-efficient vacuum supply for meat-processing plants

Potential savings for vacuum generation

Busch vacuum pumps and systems at interpack 2017. Photo PSA

Vacuum packaging of meat and sausage products offers a fundamental advantage: the elimination of the air in the packaging drastically reduces the oxygen content, slows down the activity of bacteria requiring oxygen and thus significantly increases shelf life. Additionally, vacuum packaging is hygienic and enables the products to be presented in an attractive manner. Vacuum must be generated to meet the requirements for vacuum packaging. This can be achieved by either an integrated or a separate vacuum pump. Other alternatives include central vacuum supply systems to which several packaging machines are connected.

Integrated vacuum pump
Normally, the vacuum pump is integrated or set up separately in the immediate vicinity for any vacuum packaging machine, whether it be a vacuum chamber packaging machine, tray sealer or thermoforming packaging machine. Oil-lubricated rotary vane vacuum pumps are almost exclusively used for this purpose. This type of vacuum pump, developed specifically for the packaging industry by Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems, has long been the standard in vacuum packaging. The newest generation of these vacuum pumps is optimized for energy savings of 20%.

Partial centralization
With partial centralization, the rotary vane vacuum pumps are removed from the actual packaging room and integrated into a central pre-vacuum system for all packaging machines in a separate room. Dry, oil-free vacuum boosters are installed directly in the packaging machines and connected to the central pre-vacuum technology system with a scheme of pipes. If more packaging machines are used, the investment costs become high due to the vacuum boosters in the individual machines; thus, it is recommended to fully centralize the vacuum supply.

The R 5 RD 0360 A rotary vane vacuum pump is one size of the newest generation of vacuum pumps for packaging

Central vacuum supply
Economic efficiency: Full centralization of the vacuum supply is an economically viable option when there are six or more packaging machines. Usually, it is safe to assume that substantially fewer vacuum pumps are required for a central vacuum supply than for a set-up of individual vacuum pumps directly alongside the packaging lines. If the vacuum supply is subsequently converted from a decentralized to a centralized system, existing vacuum pumps can be integrated into the new centralized system, reducing the investment costs.