Building a successful pump system is often anything but easy. In addition to the many different kinds of pumps on the market today, an effective system also requires a correctly matched motor — and motors have just as many options as pumps. AC motors versus DC motors. Brushless versus brushed motors. Synchronous versus induction motors. Then there are air motors and stepper motors, gearmotors and servomotors, linear motors and hydraulic motors. One’s choices can seem endless.
In this post, we will highlight washdown motors, explaining what they are, their components, why you might want to use them, and some common industrial applications.
What Are Washdown Duty Motors?
Washdown motors came into use due to previously unavoidable downtime when motors were operated in damp environments. (We’ll discuss industries that typically use washdown motors in a section below.) Typically, the wetness inherent in these conditions would lead to unavoidable servicing time during which a pump system would sit idle while technicians cleaned and serviced them in order to mitigate potential damage. This unavoidably led to decreased efficiency.
Enter the washdown motor, a kind of motor that differs from more standard motors in one simple way: Their internal components are better protected against moisture. All motors are given an IP Code, which classifies and rates the level of protection provided by an enclosure/casing against insertion or intrusion of moisture. Just how much moisture will depend on the motor’s IP Code. Most washdown motors are typically IP55, IP56, or IP66. This also allows them to be quickly cleaned (i.e., washed down) — which can be a requirement in facilities dealing with consumables or chemical applications — and immediately returned to service.
Advantages and Why You Should Use Them
While washdown motors carry a higher price tag, it’s a necessity given their specialized components. Decision makers in many industrial applications may find their greater cost is more than offset by increased system efficiency. Indeed, greater efficiency is one of the top reasons to select a washdown motor.
Another reason involves federal regulations. Some end-use applications such as food production have a regulatory requirement that producers use washdown motors to prevent potential contamination. These motors can stand up to harsh cleaning agents used to eliminate food-born bacteria.
Finally, washdown motors come in a wide variety of configurations, making them highly adaptable. If your end-use scenario involves moisture of any kind, know that there’s a washdown motor array that will fit your specifications.
Components of Washdown Motors
The most important part of any washdown motor is its sealing, the very component that ensures it remains waterproof. By waterproofing rabbets, screw heads, the protruding section of shaft, and the entire exterior of the motor’s surface, manufacturers can ensure that it continues to operate in even the dampest contexts.
Another element that most washdown motors have is a totally enclosed non-vent enclosure without a fan, or a partially enclosed motor matched with motor breather plugs that allow the motor to passively cool. (A few washdown motors are fan cooled, although that isn’t standard.) All motors contain interior corrosion protection and a strong resistance to a wide variety of substances, including:
- Vegetable, mineral, and cutting oils
- Animal fats
- Abrasive materials
- Sodium Hydroxide
- Fresh and salt water
- Dilute lactic acid
- Mineral spirits
Common Options and Types
Because the FDA doesn’t allow paint-coated machinery to be used in food processing, stainless-steel washdown motors are among one of the more popular options. Some motors feature an epoxy coating, while others that aren’t designed to function in food-based applications have a white-paint exterior. These motors also come in various types, such as:
- Single phase or three phase
- Food-friendly lubrication or standard lubrication
- Immersion or non-immersion
- Dryer motor / brake motor / jet-pump motor
- Round base versus rigid base versus face versus yoke mounting
- Power ranging from 1/2 to 10 horsepower
Applications and Industries Using Washdown Motors
In this post, we’ve already mentioned that food processing in particular requires the use of washdown motors, especially poultry processing. In fact, washdown motors are such a mainstay in poultry applications that there’s an industry standard called feather-picker motors. Washdown motors also end up used in pharmaceutical applications. Some specific end uses for these motors include:
- Conveyor belts
- Packing / batching machines
- Liquid transfer
- Brake motors
If you’re trying to design a pump system that needs to work in damp environments and are looking for the ideal washdown motor, contact us here at March Pump. We’ve worked in the industry since 1954, and we have the expertise and passion to help you craft the ideal system for your end use.