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Ins and outs of winery hose.

The proper selection and maintenance of wine-handling hose begins with a basic knowledge of hose construction and elastomeric materials used in their manufacture.

The three basic parts to every hose are the tube, the reinforcement and the cover. The tube must contain the wine being conveyed and resist deterioration by that material, while the reinforcement provides the strength to prevent the hose from collapsing under suction or vacuum. The cover protects the reinforcement from the harmful effects of the environment in which the hose operates.

Hose tubing

The hose starts out with a tube made of hybrid compounds of plastic and rubber, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Both types of tubing meet all regulations and requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Public Health Service for sanitary food-handling hose.

PVC tubing tends to be less expensive and can be chemically sterilized. On the other hand, PVC is less flexible than hybrid hose, and chemicals can leave corrosive residues.

Hybrid tubing can be cleaned using open steam, or high- temperature water with caustics (up to 230 |degrees~ F). It also has excellent flexibility and durability and leaves no residual particles or taste in the product it carries.

According to John Fenn, an industrial hose salesman in Santa Rosa, Calif., "All wineries have their own method of taste-testing a hose. They may not be the most scientific methods, but the results will weigh heavily on a winery's purchasing decision."

Hose reinforcement

Until recently, wire reinforcements were the primary means of strengthening hose. While the wire allows the hose to withstand a full vacuum and the rigors of the environment in which it is used, it also can rust or be crushed causing metal contamination or oxidation to occur.

According to Joe Benziger of Glen Ellen winery, hose durability and sturdiness are critical issues when purchasing wine hose. "This stuff gets run over with equipment, stepped on, dragged around; it really takes a beating. We purchase a hose that can take the punishment and keep on performing."

Today, a new polyester monofilament helix is becoming the standard for wine-handling hose. The new rust-resistant reinforcement is 60% lighter than the same gauge of wire. When exposed, it does not leave sharp, jagged edges which can cause personal injury to employees.

Hose covers

Several different cover materials are used on food handling hose. For the food and wine industries, ethylene propylene diene (EPDM) has several physical properties that warrant its use. EPDM provides hose with excellent protection from ozone and other environmental elements that can lead to premature hose degradation.

In addition to good overall strength and resistance to abrasion, EPDM performs exceptionally well at high temperatures allowing the hose to be cleaned easily and effectively through steam cleaning.

Care and maintenance

The Gates Rubber Company, a major manufacturer of food-handling hose, offers the following guidelines to optimize hose performance and service life:

1. Observe caution when unpacking food- or beverage-handling hose. Sharp tools, such as knives and grab hooks, can cause severe damage to some hose. Ideally, hose should be left in its original packing carton until it is put into service. Most food-handling hose is individually packaged in specific pre-set lengths, then wrapped in polyethylene and cartoned to ensure that it remains free of dirt, moisture and other potential contaminants. Avoid twisting the hose during unloading. If a hoist is used to unload the coiled hose, always rotate the container to prevent kinking.

2. Hose must be properly stored to ensure a full product life.

Ideal storage conditions call for a cool room (50 |degrees~ F to 75 |degrees~ F) that is protected from high temperatures and direct sunlight which can harden and crack hose. Never store hose in a hot, damp room, in direct sunlight, or near heat outlets. Ozone can have an oxidizing effect on hose, causing premature aging.

3. Hose should never be stacked one length upon another so high that distortion occurs due to weight. When practical, store hose in its original shipping container--especially if the container is a wooden shipping crate or a cardboard carton. These containers provide protection against harmful surroundings and accidental cutting or kinking. Hose that is furnished in coils or bales should be stored so the coils are in a horizontal plane (shelves, floors, etc.) to prevent hose from sagging and possibly forming a "built-in" kink. Hanging hose over nails, hooks, or placing the hose under strain at a specific point, can cause loss of resiliency and cracking.

4. Never abuse hose by dragging it over abrasive surfaces, or pulling it by its coupling assembly causing strain at the connection. Kinking of a hose in use is very harmful and may cause the tube to rupture, resulting in premature failure. Flow should never be restricted even temporarily by kinking the hose. Instead, use shut-off nozzles or valves.

5. Prevent hose from being kinked or crushed by heavy vehicles and machinery by routing them away from high traffic areas. When wire-reinforced hose is flattened or crushed out of round, it sometimes can be forced back into shape, although performance and service life will suffer.

Perform preventive maintenance inspections of hose for signs of abrasion, cuts and concealed damage. Hose showing signs of stress should be removed from service before it becomes a hazard. The following procedures are recommended when inspecting hose:

* Lay the hose out straight in a dry, lighted area.

* Visually inspect the exterior of the hose, looking for kinks, bulges, soft spots and/or excessive cover wear. Replace damaged hose immediately.

* Using illumination from a flashlight, check the hose interior for signs of tube wear, tube separation from the reinforcement, cuts or wear at the coupling.

* Inspect couplings for signs of slippage. Examine the hose adjacent to the couplings for kinking, breakage or seepage. If necessary, recouple the hose.

* Always wipe the hose cover clean with a nonpetroleum-based detergent.

* Examine couplings and clamps for rust, corrosion and food bacteria. If necessary, cut hose and recouple.

Proper selection and care of wine-handling hose can lead to long, efficient service, help lower operating costs and help provide sanitary, healthful service. For additional information on the selection and care of food hose, contact your hose distributor.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Wines & Vines
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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