This is Part II in a two-part series. For Part I, click here.
A simple item, the cable tie, can be selected and used in a way that significantly minimizes the chance that it, or a piece of it, will contaminate a food or beverage batch.
Prevention of Contamination
As some products, such as detectable cable ties, are made to be easier to detect in food- or beverage-processing batches, other products are used to minimize the risk of contamination occurring. In the case of cable ties, there are products that make it easier to handle and install the cable ties, eliminating the likelihood of cable ties being dropped or spare pieces falling into processing batches.
One way to improve the handling of cable ties is to reduce the risk of dropping them by keeping them in a dispenser, such as Thomas & Betts’ Ty-Rap® Tote. The Ty-Rap Tote clips onto a belt or tool pouch so that cable ties are within reach and features diamond-shaped cutouts for easy access to cable ties, which reduces the number of cable ties that are dropped and lost. The dispensers are particularly useful for installers who are mobile, are working in locations without much space or are climbing up and down ladders. Often, installers carry cable ties in their shirt or pants pockets, which can cause cable ties to fall into processing batches as one is pulled out for use.
In addition to facilitating the handling of cable ties, there also are tools available to make installation easier. Among the benefits of a good-quality cable tie installation tool is that it makes a flush cut when the tool severs the cable tie’s tail, eliminating sharp edges that may cut the installer or nearby objects. The most significant benefit in preventing contamination, however, is that cable tie installation tools, such as Thomas & Betts’ Ty-Rap Ty-GunTM Ergonomic Hand Tool, will hold the severed cable tie tail captive, rather than letting it drop or shoot away when cut.
In addition to improving installation and handling methods, the design of the product itself can reduce the risk of contamination. For example, a smooth surface is less likely to trap contaminants and resist thorough cleaning than products with angular or rough surfaces. Again, the cable tie can serve as a good example: some cable ties, such as the Ty-Rap line, feature smooth surfaces without notches, which trap fewer contaminants and enable any contaminants to be easily shed with cleaning. Thomas & Betts uses similar design features in its line of cable and conduit fittings.
Cable Ties at Work in Baked Goods Processing
One example of cable ties being used in food and beverage processing is a baked goods manufacturer in the State of New York. The facility’s head of electrical maintenance was faced with making changes in response to more stringent regulations enacted to reduce the chance of food contamination. He switched to detectable cable ties throughout the plant when he first learned of their availability. They are used not only to bundle electrical cable, but also to mount signage. For example, when the plant needed to segregate equipment used to process products with ingredients that can be allergens, such as peanut butter, detectable cable ties are used to post signs that indicate which equipment has been segregated for use with these ingredients.
The plant has used thousands of detectable cable ties in the last several years without incident, and they have proven to be easier to use than conventional or stainless steel cable ties. The head of electrical maintenance has found that switching to detectable cable ties has provided “peace of mind.”