March 10, 2021 1:44 pm Published by


The food and drink industry relies heavily on compressed air for a variety of manufacturing operations. To ensure best practice, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) has a specific class of air quality for sensitive industries such as food and beverage. Known as Class 0, it is the most stringent air quality class, limiting oil contamination in liquids, aerosols, and vapours.

Among the applications where compressed air is a vital part of the production process are filling machines, used in cleaning and manufacturing, product handling for moving products along the production process.  Air knives are often used in cutting and peeling food products such as vegetables and fruit and pumps which move liquid components through the production and filling processes. Lastly many packaging machines use compressed air for creating the vacuum used in many food packaging processes. There is a specialist application, compressed air used to produce nitrogen for processes particularly in the drinks industry, but that is a subject we will return to later.

Oil free compressors do not require oil injection to lubricate or cool the internal parts of the system. They are also designed to make sure that no oil used in lubricating the gears can come into contact with the compressed air being produced and thereby potentially contaminating the end product. Oil free compressors deliver lower maximum discharge pressure capability, leading to lower power consumption, and thus lower operating cost. Aside from introducing contaminant free air into the production process, oil free compressors are also more environmentally friendly as the condensate produced is oil free as well.

ISO 8573-1 (2010), “Compressed air — Contaminants and purity classes,” provides a classification system for the main contaminants in compressed air systems. The standard specifies a number of purity classes for compressed air with respect to particulates, water, and oil. Where most of the “classes” listed in the standard are straightforward specifications of the maximum number of particulates per cubic metre, Class 0 is just described as “As specified by the equipment user or supplier and more stringent than Class 1”. In the food industry where even minute percentages of oil could alter the flavour and odour of food items or spoil the end product, leading to substandard quality, rejects and production losses, assessing oil mist levels in a compressed air supply can be difficult.

Harrier Pneumatics air quality testing is a critical path to ensuring that production facilities have a clear understanding of their compressed air system and any shortfalls in the quality of air that is being supplied to machinery. Our range of oil free compressors give peace of mind regarding the quality of that air supply but also represent a good return on investment by lowering energy consumption and reducing contamination of other components such as filters. Our engineers can work with you to install the necessary equipment to help you ensure compliance with your particular industry’s regulations and put in place a regime of regular ongoing testing. In the meantime, please get in touch with us to learn how we can help you ensure your compressed air quality.

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This post was written by Harrier Pneumatics