Chemical Composition Solves Top Challenges for Food and Beverage Manufacturers

The food and beverage industry relies on precise control, planned maintenance, and optimization of processes. These elements are essential for manufacturers to achieve production goals while ensuring food quality and food safety standards are met. The durability of pumps and valves is critical in this equation. They are used throughout a facility for everything from effective fluid and food handling to pressure and temperature control, to energy efficiency and process automation.


Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) is proud to partner with equipment manufacturers who contribute to the operational efficiency of food and beverage production facilities. Many of the top challenges OEMs solve for the industry are rooted in the chemical composition of their stainless steel parts.


“The specific elements and proportions that make up special grades of stainless steel alloys directly affect the material’s properties, including strength, ductility, hardness, corrosion resistance and thermal stability,” said Charlie Werner, Plant Metallurgist for Stainless Foundry & Engineering. “We take time to understand the specific use of each part and intentionally modify the chemistry, increasing elements or decreasing to net optimal results for our customers.”


We asked some of our food and beverage customers to share their thoughts on the top challenges the industry faces and how their solutions – and stainless steel parts – are the answer.


  1. Hygienic and Sanitary Design – Pumps and valves are increasingly being designed with sanitary considerations, featuring smooth surfaces that are easy to clean, minimal crevices, galling prevention, and passivation that enhances corrosion resistance. This helps food and beverage manufacturers remain compliant with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation by maintaining high standards of hygiene and reducing the risk of contamination.


Sanitation is the challenge of the food and beverage industry,” said Gary Ehnert of Fristam Pumps. “Understanding the requirements and having an effective sanitizing protocol is critical.”


Fristam Pumps works to meet this critical need by producing both universal and custom pumps with the proper materials and design that can be cleaned in place (CIP). This allows food and beverage manufacturers to sanitize their equipment without disassembling the pumps.


To ensure food safety and prevent call backs caused by improper cleaning of equipment, it is key to use process equipment which meets the latest hygienic design regulations and define and proof a suitable cleaning and sterilization process, according to Florian Walter of Watson-Marlow GmbH – MasoSine.


“We developed our Certa Sine pump range to meet the highest sanitary standards proven by both 3-A (USA) and EHEDG (Europe),” Walter said. “Our Certa range is developed to handle food and beverage products with the care they deserve to maintain product integrity, no matter if it is delicate cheese curds and whey, yeast in breweries or high viscosity frozen orange juice concentrate.”


Each stainless steel casting SF&E produces is unique to the specific use and requirements of the customer. When it comes to sanitation, even more critical than creating the part is the maintenance of it. Each part contains a passive layer – a chemical makeup that enhances a part’s corrosion resistance. If cleaning materials and processes are not in place to protect the passive layer, it opens the door for corrosion, contamination, and compromised equipment, Werner said.


  1. Production Uptime – Food and beverage manufacturers are looking for equipment that operates more efficiently, with lower power consumption, higher automation and monitoring capabilities, and improved performance for consistent product quality.


“Reliability is a must. Customers need to trust the pump will work as expected,” Ehnert said. “Ease of maintenance is also important. If a pump is easy to work on, you have a better chance of preventative maintenance getting completed as needed.”


When a production line is down, it costs money. Even more so when the downtime is unplanned. Product reliability and maintenance are keys to keeping lines running smoothly and a pump or piece of equipment is only as reliable as the parts within it.


OEMs take a lot of time to work with foundries like SF&E to perfect the chemical composition of each part. This requires an understanding of the specific conditions the part will work within, the attributes of the media it will be handling, including considerations such as oxidation, testing surface conditions, and more. With experience pouring more than 250 alloys and a specialty in stainless steel, the SF&E metallurgical team can produce the best part for the job, with the robustness that comes with passivation.


“If a part loses its passive layer while it is in service, it is no longer a high performance alloy. It can deteriorate and lose its corrosion resistant properties,” Werner said. “When allowed to rest, it can regain the passive layer, but if it is gone for too long it can be problematic. We aim to make sure each part can maintain passivity in the expected conditions, which is why we work with our customers upfront to understand the environment.”



  1. Improved Material Technology – Advances in material science are leading to the development of pumps and valves made from high-performance materials that offer better durability, chemical resistance and compliance with food safety regulations. These materials, most often stainless steel alloys, help to extend the lifespan of equipment and maintain product integrity.


“The castings we produce at SF&E are used in many areas of a food and beverage facility and they are all different shapes and sizes,” Werner said. “We really have to consider the specific use and conditions for each casting so that the properties required of the casting are represented as best as possible.” 


Many food and beverage parts use 300 series austenitic steel and 400 series martensitic steel. The 300 series austenitic stainless steels are versatile with excellent corrosion resistance, good formability and weldability. Their specific properties can be tailored to suit a wide range of applications.


The 400 series martensitic stainless steels are valued for their combination of high strength, hardness and moderate corrosion resistance. They are typically used in applications where wear resistance and the ability to be heat treated to various hardness levels are essential. Their superior mechanical properties make them suitable for a wide range of industrial pumps, valves, and bearings.



Food and beverage manufacturers – and the OEMs that serve them – face challenges that continue to evolve as food and beverage trends change and operational efficiency remains a top priority. Maintaining tight control over the chemical composition of stainless steel castings will ensure parts can perform at their expected level and lifecycle.


“The SF&E team is always trying to improve internally, whether we are conducting quality testing, gaining new certifications, troubleshooting with customers, or attempting new methods,” Werner said. “All departments consistently work to make sure we maintain an understanding of the specific use of each part and take that knowledge into consideration throughout the entire process. This is key to making the best product possible.”


If you work in the food and beverage industry and are interested in learning more about our high performance stainless steel alloys, contact us today.  

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