Article | Industrial compressor cleaning in the food industry

Effective compressor cleaning will save costly repairs and prolong the lifetime of your unit.


The quality of compressed air is very important in the food industry. Batches of products can be polluted from small traces of contamination, causing a hazard risk for the consumer. To ensure that food industry regulations are met, regular industrial compressor cleaning is essential. Where reliability and air purity of a product are vital, compressed air purification equipment is a necessity. The right balance of air quality and cost must be considered whilst delivering top quality performance.

In the food industry, air compressors are used in chains of production, packing, and cleaning. These are then separated into three types of air compressed system, with individual sets of regulations:

  1. Non-contact and high-risk: If compressed air is used in the production environment but it doesn’t come into contact with the food, it is then considered to be a non-contact and high-risk system. The same safety standards would apply to this as the compressed air in direct contact with food.
  2. Non-contact and low-risk: Sometimes, compressed air won’t come into contact with food. This could be due to the air being used in control valves, air motors or other pneumatic devices.
  3. Contact: If the compressed air does come into contact with food it must be properly purified and filtered, ensuring food safety.


Air compressors are used to achieve many things in the food industry. Cakes, cookies and other baked goods are filled using compressed air, helping ensure the filling is evenly distributed. Air knives, which are devices often secured above a production line, are used to cool products as they move down the conveyor. There are also instances of using air compressors to move food down a process line, such as powdered products being pushed through pipes. The food industry also uses air compressors for cleaning dust or other contaminants from containers prior to filling them with products.

Air compressors can be extremely beneficial to the food industry due to the diverse nature of uses. A strict and effective compressor cleaning strategy should be in place at all times to avoid contamination or mechanical problems.


It is extremely important to avoid contamination when in the food industry.  Water vapors, atmospheric dirt, microorganisms, pipe corrosion, rust, and condensed water are amongst the main sources of contamination frequently found in compressed air systems.

The most effective way of industrial compressor cleaning is to control and remove varnish. Varnish is a by-product of lubricant degradation which, when left unchecked, begins to harden and leads to the wearing of lubricated components. Varnish can also be formed by coolant contamination, static discharge, and fluid cavitation, amongst other things.

Allowing varnish to build up in your compressor will reduce the filter efficiency, cause moving components to stick, deterioration to seal materials and degradation to lubricants. It is important to prevent and control varnish if you want to prolong the life of an air compressor and work in accordance with food industry regulations. Picking a high-quality lubricant can be a step in the right direction to effective industrial compressor cleaning.


NCH Asia has developed an extensive line of high-quality compressor oils and lubricants. These oils are designed to withstand high pressures, temperatures and moisture levels without any deterioration. Rotors and bearings will not be left dry as all solutions will resist mixing with water, providing a constant film of lubrication. We also provide essential compressor cleaning services.

Get in touch with NCH Asia today and discuss compressor cleaning with our industry experts.

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