Hygienic Sensor Solutions: Stainless steel makes processes safer

Nov 7, 2019

Not all publicity is good publicity – particularly the publicity found on www.lebensmittelwarnung.de. The website of the federal states and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in Germany publishes product recalls and public warnings from the food and beverage industry on a regular basis – often several times a week. Bacterial contamination in the production, transport, and packaging processes is one of the possible causes. A hygienic system design – and in particular hygienic automation components – can minimize the contamination risks for products and communication risks for manufacturers: Germs and bacteria do not stand a chance against stainless-steel sensors and system solutions from SICK.


Stainless-steel sensors from SICK deliver exceptional performance combined with compact dimensions, chemical and thermal material resistance, and lasting impermeability. Furthermore, all of the opto-sensory device types in the photoelectric sensor product families, for example, are also available in stainless-steel versions – energetic photoelectric proximity sensors, photoelectric proximity sensors with background suppression, through-beam photoelectric sensors, and photoelectric retro-reflective sensors. The stainless-steel sensor portfolio from SICK also offers suitable solutions for safety technology tasks, the identification of products and containers, position monitoring and path measurement, pressure, temperature, and level measurement, or the inspection of packaging and its contents. These solutions offer the highest level of process reliability for the manufacturer and maximum product safety for the consumer. At the same time, they ensure reliable functioning and consistently high levels of availability even under the harshest application conditions – because the automation tasks must not impact negatively on the hygienic design.

INOX Products for Hygienic usage
INOX Products for Hygienic usage


Product contamination: Three hazard zones in practical applications

Hygiene-compliant sensors “shine” not only on account of their stainless-steel housing but also as a result of numerous other measures that guarantee the best possible chemical and thermal resistance as well as impermeability. 

The machines and plants in hygiene-critical productions can be divided into three hazard zones, with corresponding consequences for the components that are to be used there. Zone C is the non-food area of a machine where sensors can be protected by covers, for example, or mounted in such a way that they cannot come into contact with food. Standard sensors can therefore be used in this zone. 

Zone B is the area of a machine where external surfaces and plant components are cleaned with cleaning agents and disinfectants. Stainless-steel sensors and components in a wash-down design are the ideal solutions in this case. They offer the required robustness and are designed so that cleaning and disinfection media can run off leaving as little residue as possible. Sensors used in Zone A – where they are in the immediate vicinity of the product – also undergo extremely demanding cleaning and disinfection processes. In addition, however, they must also meet special hygiene requirements and comply with recommendations, standards, ordinances, and regulations relating to hygiene. These situations call for stainless-steel sensors with a hygienic design, which offer maximum protection against germs and contamination risks.

Photoelectric Sensor INOX for Hygienic Industries
Photoelectric Sensor INOX for Hygienic Industries


Hygiene as a chain of competency: Safe sensor solutions with no weakest link 

The portfolio of stainless-steel sensors and accessories from SICK offers hygienic solutions for flexible automation, protecting machines and processes, for quality control, and for identification applications. To ensure the continuous and long-term safety of products and processes, it is necessary to meet a variety of requirements with regard to the chemical resistance, thermal resistance, impermeability, and structural design of the stainless-steel sensors while adhering to market standards. These are interrelated like the links of a chain, where the weakest link will determine the suitability of the sensor or system solution for hygienic applications. 

Material selection and processing, constructive design, implementation of market standards, as well as hygienic operation and automation functionality – the hygienic design of stainless-steel sensors from SICK incorporates extensive expertise in the fields of food, beverage, and pharmaceutical production. For a hygiene chain with no weak link.