Automation and digital technologies have brought many improvements to food processing operations — from higher throughput to lower labor costs and improved traceability and compliance. They’ve also brought more screens into food plants. And those screens need to be protected from what can often be a harsh environment, especially for sensitive electronics.
To learn more about how food processors can keep their digital displays safe, we interviewed Joe Harrell at Protective Enclosures Company. Harrell is the Florida-based company’s General Executive Manager and has been in the manufacturing field for over 30 years.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, Protective Enclosures began with a simple, affordable option for securing and weather-proofing outdoor TVs. The company developed and patented its The TV Shield for residential use and later designed the The Display Shield for commercial purposes. Most recently, they launched a Professional Series for high-end applications, as well as protective solutions for digital signage. Today, Protective Enclosures’ products can be found all over the world.
Safeguarding displays with sanitation in mind
Protective Enclosures’ entry into the food industry was through meat plants, where processors use their products for production line displays. “Processors want more real-time information out on the floor,” Harrell says. “They have several lines running, and they want to know instantaneously if they have an issue with a particular line.”
Meat plants are challenging environments, especially during sanitation time. The rugged design of Protective Enclosures’ The Display Shield makes this product a perfect fit.
Protective Enclosures uses two primary plastic materials in its products – one for the back housing and another for the front. “The back housing is a high molecular weight polyethylene material,” Harrell says. “It's the same material that you see in outdoor playground equipment, automotive gas tanks, things of that nature.” This material is designed to last for 25 years in outdoor applications.
The front panels are made of engineered, high impact, shatterproof polycarbonate material. Polycarbonate plastic is 250 times more impact-resistant than glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic. It’s used in fighter jet windshields and bulletproof vests. “It's just about impossible to break,” Harrell says. “You could literally take a hammer and beat on the front of the housing and you can’t break it.”
Resistant to chemicals, water, and dust
“One of the key benefits of our The Display Shield,” Harrell says, “is that the materials we use are chemical-resistant. They allow the manufacturer to perform high-pressure washdowns.” That chemical resistance and cleanability makes the products popular with meat processors as well as retailers.
It’s the main reason a major supermarket chain purchased over a thousand The Display Shields for the screens in its meat departments. As part of the store’s inventory system, the displays allow the meat department to receive notifications about each sale from the checkout line. “They went with our product because of the chemical resistance factors,” Harrell says. “They have certain chemicals they have to use in their wipe downs, and we were able to pass those requirements.”
The Display Shield also has an IP55 rating for water and dust resistance.
The Display Shield was originally developed for outdoor use, and it can withstand everything from summer heat and thunderstorms to freezing cold and snowfall.
While food processing environments may be harsh, they aren’t quite that extreme. So, Protective Enclosures offers options to either cap or remove their patented vent system as well as the heating and cooling functions, to eliminate any potential leak paths. “With this industry,” Harrell says, “we don't need the climate-controlled features, so we take all of that out to make it a fully enclosed housing.”
Finally, The Display Shield has a variety of other features that will appeal to food processors of all types. They’re designed to curb theft and tampering attempts, they can be mounted just about anywhere, and they can accommodate screen sizes from 19 to 85 inches. Displays can also be easily switched out with newer technology when the time comes, and additional components can be stored as well. “Our housings have room inside for media players, mini-PCs, and other accessories,” Harrell says.
The overall result is a stronger, lighter, more customizable enclosure than the stainless steel housings found in many food plants today.
This will be Protective Enclosures’ first appearance at PROCESS EXPO. “We are adding PROCESS EXPO this year because of the growth we've seen in this particular industry,” Harrell says. “As more screens make their way into processing plants, we want to make sure food processors are aware of the solutions we provide.”
You can learn more about Protective Enclosures and its unbreakable housings by visiting Booth #4370 at PROCESS EXPO 2019.