Pneumatics in the Food and Beverage Industry

corridor with metal tanksThey may not be the first thing that come to mind in the food and beverage industry, but pneumatics are essential to food and beverage conveyance, packaging, processing and storing. Hose, tubing and actuators are all over the place.

Pneumatic Hose and Tube

The first category of pneumatic products in the food and beverage manufacturing world are hose and tube. This breaks down further into:

Rubber hose

Yellow medium duty rubber air hoseRubber hose can be sourced in low, medium or high pressure. Its job is to provide power to the air operated equipment in the operation, such as actuators that separate ingredients and move them along to their proper destinations.

plastic tubing

Multi-color plastic tubing in black wrapPlastic tubing can be found everywhere from soda dispensers to coffee and espresso machines, but when it comes to air tubing, these products convey carbon dioxide, nitrogen and mixed gas.

Material selection for plastic tubing includes polyethylene, polyurethane, nylon, Teflon® and PVC. They are all durable and the decision of which to use is dependent upon operation. Polyethylene is used more on the low-pressure side, and is chemical resistant as well as economical. Polyurethane is flexible and strong, as well as kink resistant. Teflon® tubing performs very well in robotic applications, and nylon is light, stable and durable. Engineered for superior stress and crack resistance, this tubing is reliable in carbonation and protecting the flavor of your beverages.

Pneumatic Actuators

Pneumatic actuators allow for the clean, safe packaging, processing, and storing products by air in a manufacturing environment. Pneumatic actuators move back and forth along a linear or rotary path.

The types of pneumatic actuators:


Rodless pneumatic actuator for load-bearing applictionsRodless pneumatic actuators can either be mechanically coupled or magnetically coupled. There is no internal rod to the actuator, but rather an external guide. Rodless actuators can be used for load-bearing applications. Some rodless actuators are extremely flat and compact.




Aluminum NFPA cylinder for heavy duty applicationsAn NFPA cylinder is also commonly referred to as a tie rod air cylinder. NFPA cylinders are reusable and available in bore sizes of up to 12 inches and stroke lengths of 120″. These cylinders are available in aluminum for light duty applications, and steel for heavy duty applications.



Thruster actuator for pick and place applicationsThruster actuators are common for pick-and-place applications. Thrusters are cost-effective and durable, and can handle small and large objects. Available in standard and heavy duty options, these actuators can be as long as 60″.



Repairable and Non-Repairable

Two cylindrical repairable actuatorsRepairable actuators offer corrosion resistance and are easy to clean and mount. Bore sizes range from 1 1/2 – 8″ and maximum operating pressures go up to 200 psi. Non-repairable actuators have bore sizes of up to 3″ and maximum operating pressures of up to 200 psi. Repairable actuators offer a sustainable solution while non-repairable actuators are low cost and simple to swap out.




ISO certified pneumatic cylinderAt PDI, our ISO certified pneumatic cylinders conform to ISO 6432 and ISO 15552. Whether standard, non-rotating rod, direct mount or standard, our actuators meet the toughest standards to ensure that your operation runs smoothly. ISO 6432 cylinder bore sizes range from 8mm to 25 mm, and ISO 15552 cylinder bore sizes range from 32 mm to 125 mm.




Rotary actuatorA rotary actuator is different from other actuators in that the motion for such an actuator is circular, instead of linear. Rotary actuators are available as either rack or pinion, and either double or single acting. Common applications for rotary actuators are industrial applications such as transferring parts, controlling valves and conveying.




Two large and three small compact actuatorsWhen space is at a premium, compact cylinders are extremely useful. Diameters range from 9/16 to 3″ and stroke lengths are from 1/4 to 2″. PDI’s compact cylinders are pressure rated up to 200 psi and have a temperature range of -20 to 400°F.





Gripper actuator with metal jawsThe times that grippers would be used are primarily in pick and place situations. Gripper actuators feature jaws that close around objects to move them to new positions. Grippers come in different styles such as angular, shovel and flange.





Lightweight IVAC actuatorIVAC stands for integrated valve actuator control. IVAC actuators are lightweight and feature magnetically operated switches for complete control. These actuators result in reduced energy use, lower operating costs and reduced installation costs. PDI is your source for IVAC actuators in any situation where you need both an actuator and valve.

Of course each food and beverage manufacturing facility is unique. The pneumatic products needed to assist in the creation of food products vary greatly. If you have a new project or need a replacement part, give us a call or email any time.