26 Oct 2022

Stainless Steel Motors Solve Food Sector Challenges

Gibbons Engineering outlines some of the key advantages stainless steel motors can offer in the food and beverage sector, and explains how it helped a customer cut downtime, improve productivity and reduce energy consumption.

You will always encounter problems with a standard electric motor in a food production area. The main reason is the cleaning process at the end of the day. The combination of a high-pressure washdown with a caustic solution will cause damage to an electric motor. Most standard electric motors are IP55, so they are not entirely watertight. In the food industry, motors usually have a stainless-steel shroud to protect them from water damage. This may appear to be a clean solution, but that’s not always the case. Stainless steel motors rated IP69 are now widely available off the shelf. And some are designed specifically for the food and beverage industry.



One of the most important reasons for switching to stainless steel is hygiene. Cooling fins on a standard motor are an obvious place for food particles, dirt, and debris to fester. With a stainless-steel motor, the casing is completely smooth and easy to clean. Stainless steel motors are visibly clean. The motor is often hidden from view when a shroud is used to cover and protect a standard motor. With regular health inspections, it’s important to have a perfectly clean machine.

The difference between a new stainless-steel motor and a standard motor covered by a shroud is minimal. But the IP69 casing of a stainless-steel motor is bound to give far more longevity, bringing production costs down.

But are they more expensive? In the short term, yes. A standard electric motor will be cheaper than a stainless-steel version of the same size. But you could argue that the stainless-steel motor will last longer and be more cost-effective. There’s also the additional cost of a stainless-steel shroud to protect a standard motor. A stainless-steel motor will last longer under intense conditions. The cleaning process is also much faster, meaning that cleaning costs will be reduced.



Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree has been making jam, marmalade and other preserves for over 130 years, producing much of its own fruit on 850 acres of Essex farmland.

The ‘Tiptree’ brand can be found in shops and cafes nationwide, is exported to 60 countries and has held a Royal warrant since 1911, meaning the company has lofty standards to maintain.

When an electric motor on one of Wilkin & Sons’ production lines failed, Gibbons Engineering Group was contacted to provide a replacement. The incumbent electric motor’s design created a requirement for inefficient and complex cleaning methods, largely due to the ingress of debris among cooling fins, beneath the rating plate and in the fan cover grating.

Without dismantling the motor, thorough cleaning of these areas is extremely difficult, while using hoses to wash down the equipment is not an option due to the likelihood of water damage.

Gibbons had a solution ready off the shelf within its range of stainless steel electric motors designed specifically for washdown applications.

The IE3 efficiency stainless steel motors are totally enclosed, non-ventilated (TENV) and rated at IP69K ingress protection, meaning they’re dust tight and can withstand high-pressure water jets. There is no rating plate, terminal box, fan cover or cooling fin assembly to trap debris, so the completely smooth corrosion-resistant surface can be washed down in a matter of seconds.

As well as replacing the old motor with Gibbons’ stainless steel model, Wilkin & Sons decided to include a waterproof ABB ACS355 variable-speed drive which enables Wilkin & Sons to enjoy precise control over the speed of the conveyor – maximising productivity while increasing energy efficiency.

As a result of this installation and the increased efficiency of its washdown procedure, Wilkin & Sons has cut downtime between batches, improved productivity and reduced energy consumption.