Overcoming Challenges Experienced with Sleeved Magnets

In the past, stainless steel sleeves on the outside of magnet grates, drawers, and cartridges, were commonly used by the food industry. Today, whilst still utilized in some food processing operations, many industry professionals do not perceive them as being as sanitary or as effective as other grate magnet designs – despite their easy-cleaning operation. An increased concern for food safety and sanitary systems means that sleeved grate magnets are somewhat a concern and can possibly have a negative effect on foreign metal fragment control. This publication highlights these concerns and provides alternative magnetic separation solutions – but first, it is important to understand how stainless-steel sleeves work.


Magnet sleeves are thin stainless-steel covers that are positioned over magnet bars for drawer and grate systems that are in contact with a product flow. Magnet sleeves are typical of old-style grate-in-housings or drawer magnet systems. The magnet is inserted into the stainless-steel sleeves, meaning that collected metal contaminants are retained to the outside of the sleeve, not to the magnet rod itself. In an attempt to create a more efficient and simple cleaning process, magnetic separator manufacturers introduced the sleeved grate magnet design - and in effect, it works. To clean a sleeved grate magnet, all plant operators must do is remove the sleeve + magnet assembly from the housing, then pull the magnet out from inside of the sleeves…and just like that, the collected metal fragments drop off!
Diagram of how stainless steel sleeves work
Diagram of cleanng operation of stainless steel sleeved magnets
Manufacturers and suppliers of the sleeve design would market benefits such as these:
  • Rapid and effortless cleaning - with no wiping or brushing required
  • Minimal product loss
  • Protection of magnet bars from abrasive wear.
These features would be very attractive to plant operators and seemingly provide an answer to troubles associated with cleaning magnets. So why are magnet sleeves troublesome? Read on...
Grate Magnet Separator with SleevesGrate Magnet with Stainless Steel Sleeves.
Liquid Trap Magnet / Finger Pot Magnet with Stainless Steel Sleeves Liquid Trap Magnet with SS Sleeves.
Sleeved Grate Magnet in Housing Sleeved Grate Magnet in Housing.


Regardless of these 'benefits', sleeved magnets inherently carry several problems. Some of the most prevalent consist of:
  • Unhygienic design
  • High risk of recontamination
  • Loss of magnet retention
  • Prone to wear & damage
  • Jamming


Magnet sleeves are a breeding ground for bugs and bacteria. Food product (or any type of contaminant for that matter) that is entrapped between the sleeve and the internal magnet can trigger mold and bacterial growth. This is a serious sanitary concern and the justification for sleeved magnet configurations being excluded from the HACCP International Food Safety Magnet Standard 0909MAGSEP 1-2010. Diagram of bacteria danger in sleeved magnets


There is a high risk that collected metal fragments may re-contaminate the product if the magnet sleeve assembly is not fully removed from the product stream before cleaning is initiated. In addition, some poor designs of these systems allow for the magnets to be extracted from the sleeves while the assembly remains positioned in the flow of product! This presents a highly dangerous risk (and almost certain chance) of captured metal fragments to be discharged back into the product. Recontamination Danger - Stainless Steel Sleeves - Magnattack


As explained earlier, sleeves are positioned between the product flow and the magnet bars. Regardless of how thin the sleeves are, they still have a negative effect on the surface strength of the magnet, and therefore impact on the magnets ability to retain weakly magnetic fragments.


This is a concern in all applications, but especially those of abrasive nature such as grains and seeds. Sleeves are required to be very thin to allow for adequate magnet strength. Due to the fragility of thin sleeves, the likelihood of damage and wear is high. If the outer sleeve becomes damaged or dented, the inner magnet can become jammed - which can cause consequent wear to the inner magnet, and create cleaning difficulties…again, leading to hygiene concerns.


As mentioned in the previous point, the inner magnet can become stuck inside the sleeves. This can cause great difficulty during the cleaning process and create OSHA risks if operators attempt to forcefully pry apart the jammed assembly. Whilst in their time sleeved grate magnets were a revolution to ease cleaning of magnets, they are now considered outdated in most food applications due to food safety concerns, OSHA, and other important considerations. Diagram depicting how damage can cause jamming So what magnetic separator designs are an advancement on sleeved grate magnets, and why?


Whilst the sleeves satisfied the industry's desire for an easier cleaning process, they created several questions and difficulties. Food processors would ask:
  • How can we keep our magnets sanitary?
  • How can we reduce the risk of recontamination?
  • How can we prevent sleeves from jamming?
With food safety being a top concern, the need for easy-cleaning magnets evolved into the need for easy cleaning magnets that are sanitary, robust, and hold minimal risk of re-contaminating the product stream. One response to this need is the RE80™ RAPIDCLEAN™ Easy-Clean Grate Magnet. Why?
  • Swing-out or swing-away design means cleaning is performed wholly outside of the product area → collected fragments fall into a tray rather than back into the product stream. The RAPIDCLEAN™ Grate Magnet cannot be cleaned whilst in the product stream!

  • The food product is in direct contact with the magnet bars → in addition to presenting higher magnet retention strength, this also eliminates the risk of bacterial contamination forming between the magnet and the sleeve.

  • No internal ledges or supports → once again, a common hiding place for product build-up, bacteria, and mold is removed.

  • Single bar cleaning method → eliminates the risk of drawer jamming, and the consequence of magnets not being able to be cleaned properly.

  • DURA-SLIK™ abrasion resistance → patented technology to shield against damage and wear caused by abrasive products.

Magnattack Rapidclean Grate MagnetRAPIDCLEAN™ Grate Magnets.
Magnattack Easy-Clean Grate Magnet
Grate Magnet in housing - Magnattack Rapidclean
Self-cleaning MAG-RAM™ grate magnets are also favored in the food industry as an alternative to conventional grate magnets. The automatic cleaning process removes the need for manual human operation.
  • No risk of human ingress to the product stream (which may cause bacterial contamination)

  • Elimination of OHS/WHS issues experienced with lifting heavy grates for cleaning.

  • Unique DURA-SLIK™ Abrasion Reduction technology equalizes abrasive wear on the surface of the magnet

  • Elimination of metal fragment issues caused by operator error during cleaning

  • No need for operator cleaning schedules as automatic cleaning can be performed before, during, and after production runs.

Automatic Cleaning Magnet Separator - Magnattack Global MAGRAMMAGNATTACK™ MAGRAM" Magnetic Separator.
Magnattack MAGRAM Self Cleaning Magnetic Separator MAG-RAM™ Self-Cleaning Separator.
MAGRAM Automatic Cleaning Magnet Separator installed in meat meal / petfood - Magnattack GlobalMAG-RAM™ installed in meat meal application.
With the development of grate magnet systems, such as the RAPIDCLEAN™ and MAG-RAM™, the food industry can be assured of the highest level of metal contamination risk reduction without risking important sanitary and food safety considerations! As with all MAGNATTACK™ equipment, the RAPIDCLEAN™ and MAG-RAM™ are certified by HACCP International and conform to current industry food safety standards.



MAGNATTACK™ Global technicians concentrate solely on the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. This specialized focus ensures that we can provide a current, relevant, and knowledgeable source regarding foreign metal fragment control. Our #1 priority is to create effective solutions that will minimize your risk of metal contamination, food recall, and brand reputation damage. For more information on MAGNATTACK™ metal fragment control solutions, please contact us. Talk to a magnet expert today! *Disclaimer: This information is provided without prejudice and is intended to assist in education regarding developments in magnetic separation technology. Magnattack Global blog posts do not intend to undermine any product, person, manufacturer, or company, but rather intend to provide experienced opinions for assistance to the industry that Magnattack Global associates with. Please refer to Magnattack Global Terms of Use.  

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