Protecting Power Equipment In Washdown Applications

If you work in food processing, you already know that every inch of the plant needs to be regularly cleaned and sanitized—but it’s easy to forget about the power equipment. All power distribution components and systems require special measures to function well in washdown environments. Here are three to keep in mind:

Suspended AMAXXUL Type 4X compliance guards against liquids and corrosion. All our switches and receptacles meet UL Type 4X standards to protect against hosedown and corrosive agents. Our SPEC Grade family of motor disconnects and pre-wired switched and interlocked receptacles is housed in a Type 304 stainless-steel enclosure with a 15-degree slope—forcing liquid run-off. These enclosures also feature a one-piece punched gasket to ensure a watertight seal and an expansive drainage channel so contaminants can’t accumulate.

Arc protection becomes more critical in wet conditions. Our motor load disconnects are designed to address critical lockout/tagout requirements in washdown environments. Engineers and facility managers can also rely on our switched and interlocked receptacles for no load make and break protection—keeping operators safe from arcs under wet conditions.

Suspended power supply options facilitate equipment cleaning. In addition to withstanding liquids and harsh cleaning agents, many of our electrical products are designed to facilitate cleaning. For example, our new Suspended AMAXX overhead power distribution system eliminates having to install anything on walls or columns. Not only does this minimize the potential for contaminant harborage, but it also makes it easy to move or roll food processing equipment away for regular cleaning. In addition, the Suspended AMAXX removes tripping hazards, promoting worker safety particularly in wet environments.

To learn more about how our electrical products can be used in washdown applications, download our catalog.

Download Catalog   

The Benefits of Having a Suspended Power Distribution System

Suspended AMAXXDepending on your application or your plant design, having an overhead power supply source comes in handy. Some facilities don’t have columns in the middle of the floor for routing and installation of electrical equipment. This can be for sanitary reasons, to minimize potential for contaminant harborage or to provide unobstructed views of the production areas.

The benefits of an overhead power supply source are obvious. But having an entire overhead power distribution system, like Suspended AMAXX, can take these benefits even further. Here’s what you need to know:

Power Distribution Systems Versus Power Drops
Traditional overhead power drops consist of one individual cord and one individual connector; multiple cords and connectors are therefore required to support multiple pieces of equipment in each production area. In these cases, individual supply feeds are run from a main panel with a remote circuit breaker at the panel or overhead. Accessing the circuit breaker is inconvenient, perhaps even troublesome when equipment needs to be maintained or repaired. Multiples cords also require more installation time and continued maintenance.

Suspended power distribution systems, on the other hand, let you drop an oversized supply cord, and this power can then be distributed to several receptacles. Essentially, you’re able to run one large feed for each required voltage system through one common box.

One overhead power distribution system means you don’t have to install anything on walls or columns—in fact, you don’t even need them. This is advantageous for a number of reasons.

  • Plant layout. This type of system may be your only option based on how a plant was designed or how power is distributed in the facility. For example, many plants don’t have spare walls or columns in production areas. Sometimes, the original distribution system in the plant can no longer support current production needs.
  • Sanitation. Many plants, in the medical or food and beverage industries, for example, are designed to minimize contamination as much as possible. Having extra walls or columns creates more surface area in the plant that will need to be cleaned.
  • Portable equipment. Because equipment isn’t tethered to a wall, it can be easily moved or rolled away—often for cleaning purposes or when production needs change, requiring a different arrangement of equipment. Having an overhead system facilitates this process.

Suspended AMAXX builds on our traditional AMAXX line of high-performance non-metallic enclosures that can hold different combinations of receptacle devices, including switched-and-interlocked styles, as well as locking NEMA devices and switch products. Suspended AMAXX is UL Type 4X rated with four mounting module provisions. Installation options include a circuit breaker access window for localized protection, 20 and 30 Amp Switched and Interlocked Receptacles, Watertight Pin and Sleeve or NEMA Receptacles, as well as Ethernet and Cat 6 Ports. With Suspended AMAXX, you have the ability to customize a design to your specific requirement and plant standard.

To learn more, call a MENNEKES installation specialist at 800-882-7584 or email us at

Electrical Products At A Glance

Get a quick overview of our standard and custom electrical products in this new video. In less than a minute, you’ll get a sense of all we offer—from pin-and-sleeve wiring devices and receptacles to disconnect switches and configurable power distribution systems. These electrical products meet national and international standards and can serve in the most demanding food processing, data center, industrial manufacturing and clean energy applications.


Understanding The Options For Motor Disconnect Switches

Motor disconnects are more than simple on-off devices to satisfy lockout-tagout requirements. They have become an integral part of the motor control circuit as disconnects increasingly offer control functions, such as auxiliary contact interface, added selector switches and push buttons. Disconnects can be fusible or non-fusible and can have different pole arrangements and environmental ratings. Multiple disconnects can be packed into one enclosure, saving space and cost while allowing you to address varied requirements, including harsh food processing or washdown applications.

In a new white paper, we explore the specification steps you should keep in mind when selecting a motor disconnect, as well as the various electrical, installation and enclosure options that will determine how your disconnect functions in its operating environment.

Download White Paper   

Motor Disconnects At A Glance

Motor Disconnects At A Glance

Motor disconnects are more than simple on-off devices. They increasingly offer additional control functions, such as test-off-run switches. Motor disconnects can also pack multiple devices into one enclosure, saving space and cost while allowing you to address different application requirements. Here's a quick visual overview of what today's motor disconnects can offer.

Motor Disconnects For VFD Applications–PART III

SwitchIn the right applications, variable frequency drives (VFD) will improve the control and reduce the energy costs of your AC motor-driven equipment. To install a VFD safely, however, you may need to reconsider the type of motor disconnect you use.

The traditional knife-blade style of disconnect, while compliant with the National Electrical Code (NEC), is not the best choice for modern VFD applications. The reasons why are both physical and electrical.

From a physical standpoint, the traditional NEMA-style blade disconnects are too bulky for IEC installations, which often group or combine motor controls and disconnects in a shared enclosure or in limited spaces. In these applications, the best alternative is a compact rotary disconnect.

The use of rotary disconnects, in non-metallic or stainless steel enclosures, continues to grow in popularity as more and more machine builders and OEMs adopt IEC devices.

From an electrical standpoint, VFDs require motor disconnects with an auxiliary contact that can provide crucial early break functionality. This contact signals the drive before disconnecting the motor, giving the drive time to power down in a controlled manner before the mains open.

Plenty of disconnects, both blade- and rotary-style, offer an auxiliary contact. But disconnects are not all created equal when it comes to protecting expensive VFDs.

For one thing, auxiliary contacts have speed differences based on their actuation methods. Cam actuated versions provide fast and predictable early break switching. Our onboard cam-actuated auxiliary contacts will provide a minimum, repeatable time gap of 20 ms between the opening of the auxiliary and the opening of the mains. This repeatability and speed provide an advantage over conventional auxiliary contacts with mechanical linkages whose actuation speeds can vary based on how slow or fast the switch handle is operated.

For another thing, auxiliary contacts aren’t always included in the price of the base disconnect. In our case, auxiliary contacts are included as a standard feature. Both auxiliary contacts and early break capability can be options with other manufacturers at an added cost.

Read Part I and Part II of this series to learn more about how to select the best motor disconnect. Or download our catalog to see specifications for our full line of motor disconnects.

Download The Catalog

Video – Superior Washdown Performance

If you need a compact power distribution solution for washdown or cleanroom use, check out our SpecMAXX Series. All enclosures feature a sloped roof that facilitates runoff of liquids and cleaning residue. A drainage channel impedes harborage of contaminants for use in a wide range of applications––from meat and dairy processing, to pharmaceutical plants. In addition to superior washdown performance, SpecMAXX also offers many custom design features.


Understanding The Options For Motor Disconnect Switches—PART II

SwitchOpen any catalog of motor disconnect switches, and you may be overwhelmed by all the different design options. Does your disconnect need to be fusible? What is the best type of enclosure for your application? Is it a 1Ø or 3Ø switch requirement? What HP is needed? Do you need an installed pilot device?

The list could go on and on, and for good reason nowadays. Far from being simple ON-OFF devices to meet LO/TO requirements, motor disconnects increasingly have to meet challenging electrical or installation requirements, and in many cases, you may need a specialized switch to meet those requirements.

In this segment on our motor disconnect series, we’ll examine some key options and customizations you may require when specifying a motor disconnect.

Electrical Options
As you configure your disconnect, it’s important to keep the following electrical options in mind:

  • Fusible or non-fusible. Your application will likely determine if the switch should be a fusible or non-fusible type. Fusible switches have a fuse provision in the switch and enclosure assembly, enabling you to open and close the circuit while providing overcurrent protection. Non-fusible switches do not have an integral fuse option and provide no circuit protection. Quite simply, does your need require fuse protection at the switch, or is there upstream protection to eliminate this need at the switch? MENNEKES offers both non-fusible UL508 or fusible UL98 disconnects.
  • Pole and throw options. Is the voltage requirement 1Ø or 3Ø? This will determine the number of poles to match the voltage configuration and related HP rating. Most industrial requirements use 3 pole switches, but MENNEKES also stocks 6 pole disconnects in both non-metallic and stainless enclosures. These are a perfect disconnect means for two-speed or reversing motors. Off-the-shelf availability and compact size make them especially useful for motor control applications. As an added option, we offer 6 pole double throw disconnects with a center OFF position to transfer loads from one power source to another.
  • Pilot device.  Do you need a pilot device as well as a disconnect in the same enclosure? Normally a separate enclosure is required to mount these devices. With MENNEKES disconnects, you can customize your disconnect and add a pushbutton, selector switch or pilot light in the same enclosure. We stock many 22.5mm and 30mm pilot devices, or we can assemble to your specifications.

Enclosure Options
When it comes to housing your electrical devices, the more installation and design options you have, the better. Some of the key enclosure options include:

  • Extra space. A little extra space in the box can make it faster and easier to install. MENNEKES stocks many disconnects in an extra-large enclosure. This also allows for factory installed or on-site customizations.
  • Material options. Disconnect enclosures come in both metallic and non-metallic versions. Both have their advantages. Metallic boxes maximize the impact resistance for high-traffic and end-of-line applications in packaging, manufacturing and pharmaceutical facilities, while non-metallic enclosures generally have a lower installed cost and increase customization options. Our non-metallic AMAXX products, for example, let you freely combine multiple disconnects and related devices in a single enclosure, saving time, installation cost and space.
  • Environmental resistance. The type of enclosure will also determine which operating environments the disconnect can tolerate. Most food processing or wash down applications require Type 4X watertight enclosures to withstand cleaning agents. Our sloped-top stainless enclosures provide this protection and shed liquids and contaminants.

To learn more, refer to Article 430 of the National Electrical Code for additional information about how to properly size a disconnect switch for single motor and combination load applications. For more information on MENNEKES motor disconnect options, download our product catalog.

Download The Catalog