Sanitary valves are necessary in manufacturing processes where maintaining a clean, sterile environment is critical. Sanitary valves feature an absence of crevices or cavities where bacteria other contaminants can otherwise build up. Design and construction of a sanitary valve must facilitate easy cleaning-in-place (CIP) and circulate CIP fluids.

Some industries and applications where sanitary valves are common include:

  • Dairy
  • Food and beverage
  • Brewing
  • Wine and spirits
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Bio-chemical processing
  • Fragrance and cosmetics

Sanitary Valves vs. Other Industrial Valves

Regular industrial valves and sanitary valves differ in several ways:

  • Materials. The contact parts between sanitary valves and the processed media are typically made of 304 or 316 stainless steel. These grades of stainless steel are a harmless, non-toxic material with a clean, smooth surface that is resistant to degradation and corrosion.
  • Seals. Sanitary valves require O-rings, seals, and seats be made from softer, inert, abrasion-resistant soft materials that comply with 3A and/or USP standards.
  • Standards. The standards for sanitary valves exceed the requirements of other industrial valves in terms of their capacity to endure frequent dismantling and installation, as well as the necessary smoothness of their internal surface finish.
  • Valve runners. Sanitary valves incorporate a smoother valve runner to make them suitable for use in biological fermentation enterprises.

Higher mechanical seal requirements also distinguish sanitary valves from common industrial valves in multiple ways, such as:

  • Conforming to good manufacturing practice (GMP) certification standards
  • Required surface finishes above 1.6
  • All contact surfaces can be cleaned in place
  • Smooth transitions with no stacking
  • Includes a structure outside the sealing surface that prevents crosscutting

Types of Sanitary Valves

Industries such as dairy, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, and chemical use varying types of sanitary valves to ensure the highest possible levels of sanitation, including:

  • Butterfly – Features a disc on a shaft that turns on a 90 degree radius to control or shut off flow.
  • Diaphragm – Flexible material is pressed into a weir or saddle to restrict or shut off flow.
  • Pinch/clamp – Designed with rubber tubing inside the housing, which is clamped or pinched to control flow.
  • Plug – A cylinder or cone with an opening bored through it, stopping or facilitating flow depending on its position.
  • Seat – Controls or shuts off flow by pressing a plate tightly into a seat.

Seat Valves

Sanitary valves are produced by a variety of major brand names in industrial valves, including:

  • Alfa Laval
  • GEA Tuchenhagen
  • Waukesha Cherry-Burrell
  • Sudmo
  • Bardiani

These valves facilitate a variety of automated functions, such as:

  • Mix-proofing
  • Aseptic applications
  • Diverting
  • Single-seat stop

Sanitary Valve Capabilities

The majority of sanitary valves include CIP capability, many feature leak detection devices, and others offer aseptic double seal seats. Most of these valves come with the capacity to attach control tops and control units for digital/electronic actuation and the capacity to provide valve positioning feedback. Manual operation is still common in some operations, but an increasing number of uses require automated capabilities.

Benefits of Sanitary Valves

Sanitary valves offer the following benefits:

  • Crevice-free
  • Easy to clean
  • Smooth and polished surfaces

These characteristics allow the product to flow clean and remain sterile without risk of bacterial growth or other forms of contamination.

Working with Highland Equipment

Highland Equipment offers industry-leading design, fabrication, installation, and support services for stainless steel process equipment across a broad range of industries. Our quality control specialists ensure that our shop fabrication, field assembly, and piping system erections comply with important industry codes, such as:

  • CSA-B1 Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Pressure Piping
  • ASME BPV Section VIII Division 1
  • ASME B31.1 Power Piping
  • ASME B31.3 Process Piping

Highland also holds memberships with multiple contractor management and quality assurance systems, including:

  • ISNetworld, since September 6, 2013
  • Cognibox, since November 12, 2014
  • Avetta (formerly PICS), since May 8, 2015
  • ContractorCheck, since February 3, 2016
  • Browz, since March 15, 2017

Maintaining sanitary production requires the use of sanitary valves within stainless steel process equipment and piping. Ordinary industrial valves do not include the necessary characteristics required to prevent contamination during processing.

Contact us for more information about our sanitary valve solutions to see what benefits they can provide to your organization.