Industrial injectors are a big investment, so it’s worthwhile to regularly inspect and maintain them to ensure product longevity. But there’s even more reason to preserve them in an optimal state when it comes to yield consistency, food quality and safety, and expensive downtime.
While injector equipment manufacturers provide information on how to care for the company’s investment, these manuals are often lengthy and overwhelming. Sometimes, they’re not even accessible to personnel. All of this results in many processors neglecting to properly maintain their injectors.
How Injector Maintenance Impacts Yields
Injectors are designed to flawlessly and consistently deliver ingredients to the fibers of your meat product. When they don’t perform as they should, you’re left with inconsistencies in your yields and an overall product that’s not very tasty or even safe. To avoid having issues like these, be sure to properly maintain your injectors by regularly inspecting them and taking the necessary preventative measures to ensure your injectors work optimally.
The job of an injector is two-fold– one is to create space inside the tissue of the meat product and the second is to inject that newly-created space with your ingredients.
One big problem that comes from not properly maintaining your injecting equipment is that water always takes the path of least resistance. In other words, leaky injectors can be very troublesome when left ignored. Fluid can easily leak out from the top of the injector rather than from the intended tip of the needle when the injector is not regularly inspected and cared for.
Another typical issue arises when either injector valves and/or the components that operate to open and close them are not properly maintained. These kinds of setbacks amount to your product no longer being consistently injected as intended– thus harboring an array of possible negative impacts on your yields until the repairs are finally addressed.
Benefits of Maintenance
The benefits of maintenance far outweigh the time, energy, and money it takes to repair unmaintained injector equipment. Injectors, just like all the other equipment in your facility, go through standard wear and tear and parts need to be inspected and/or changed out regularly. This can either be done in a preventative manner or once the component part fails and the injector experiences costly downtime for repairs or replacement. Ideally, processors will take proper measures to complete maintenance in a timely way to avoid future problems that will surely arise.
Some of the few other reasons why preventative maintenance is beneficial to include:
- to prevent leaks from the needle
- to prevent blockages
- to ensure product consistency
- to maximize ingredient formulation instead of risking waste
Example Maintenance Schedule
Injectors vary from one brand to the next, so your particular model may require a slightly modified maintenance schedule. Yet most of the time, injector equipment manufacturers will recommend a preventative maintenance schedule that includes the items below.
- Inspect all components
- Inspect for leaks in brine path from pump to the end of needle
- Maintain seals in the brine path
- Clean needles and injector head
- Ensure there are no blockages in the filtration system
- Lubricate the wear parts
Quarterly / Biannually:
- Install rebuilds of valves
- Check for wear on bushings and bearings
- Replace all needle seals
Injectors can go a long way when maintained properly, resulting in a quality, consistent end product that has great taste, texture, and bite. However, the lack of a proper maintenance program can also affect your yields greatly when maintenance is ignored.
Typically, the most important part of the equipment to pay attention to (and where most processors mess up) is the filtration system. If that’s not functioning properly in your injector equipment, all of your expensive functional ingredients will essentially have gone to waste and the quality and shelf life of your product as well as the health and safety of the consumer are at risk.
Following a simple maintenance program like the one above will help you avoid all the headache.