Building a Food Plant on a Short Schedule: 4 Ways to Fast-track Your Construction Project

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Building a Food Plant on a Short Schedule: 4 Ways to Fast-track Your Construction Project

In today’s increasingly fast-paced food and beverage industry, everyone wants their next facility built as soon as possible so it can start shipping product quickly. While hiring an experienced firm to design and build (or renovate) your plant is critical, there are things owners can do to ensure a project moves as efficiently as possible.

Success story: US Cold Storage

Stellar recently designed and built a food distribution facility for US Cold Storage in Laredo, Texas. The project had an aggressive schedule, and as the senior project manager, my job was to ensure we met those deadlines.

Despite a month of unexpected weather delays, we worked creatively and brought in additional crews that worked ten-hour days and six- to seven-day weeks. This allowed us to complete the project in only eight months, just in time to harvest Mexican strawberries.

 

Construction Labor Costs: 4 Ways to Avoid Budget Surprises in 2019

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Photo by Matt Harding, Yuma Sun

Photo by Matt Harding, Yuma Sun

 

As the economy thrives and capital investment grows, the construction market continues to face a labor shortage in 2019. This can especially be a factor when it comes to skilled labor for specialized disciplines, such as refrigeration.

What does this mean for food and beverage companies looking to build or expand? If it’s been a few years since your business has tackled a large capital investment project, you’ll need to manage expectations and plan accordingly. Today’s economy is a different playing field with different challenges.

If you’re planning to invest in a new facility, renovation or expansion, here are four things you can do to avoid budget surprises along the way.

 

Digital PSM: A Sneak Peek at Stellar’s New Compliance Software Platform

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Digital PSM: A Sneak Peek at Stellar’s New Compliance Software Platform

When it comes to your facility’s process safety management (PSM), switching from paper to digital is a no-brainer. Using a digital platform saves time, makes document storage more convenient and allows you to have more control during OSHA audits.

We live in an online, digital world where software technologies make our work more efficient. Why should one of the most important elements of your business — the health and safety of your employees — be any different?

Stellar has been a pioneer in the digital PSM market since 1998, and we’re raising the bar.

 

An Inside Look at the Award-winning Royal Cup Coffee & Tea Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

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An Inside Look at the Award-winning Royal Cup Coffee & Tea Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

For more than 120 years, Royal Cup Coffee & Tea has been rooted in its hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Over the past century, Royal Cup has grown from selling coffee out of a horse-drawn wagon to a major international importer, roaster and distributor of premium coffees and teas.

Recently, in an effort to meet the demand of its rapidly growing consumer base, Royal Cup consulted with the Stellar team on how it could revamp its 40-acre campus to increase production as well as set the industry standard for safety and efficiency.

 

New Automation and Controls System? Educate and Involve Operators Early

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New Automation and Controls System? Educate and Involve Operators Early

As more food and beverage processing moves from mechanical to automated, it’s important to hire the right people who can operate and troubleshoot from the plant floor. Once you have qualified technical staff in place, transferring knowledge about your automation and controls systems to them is crucial.

At Stellar, we often help food manufacturers configure new facilities, so we understand the process and what it takes to make it go smoothly. When it comes to training your plant personnel on the automation and controls, follow these tips for an efficient startup at your next facility.

 

Choosing the Right Refrigeration Condenser: 5 Variables to Consider

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Choosing the Right Refrigeration Condenser: 5 Variables to Consider

Condensers are one of the most critical elements of a refrigeration system. While optimizing the performance of your condenser is important for reducing energy usage and maintenance costs, if you’re building a new facility, it all starts with selecting the best option for your needs.

Location

When choosing a condenser, it’s important to consider where the facility is located. In colder climates, ice buildup and water freezing may occur with evaporative condensers. To work around this issue, you have two options:

 

Do These 5 Things to Maintain Food Safety in Your Older Facility [Infographic]

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Do These 5 Things to Maintain Food Safety in Your Older Facility

 

You don’t need to build a brand new facility to meet modern-day food safety standards. The reality is that most companies don’t have the budget to build from scratch as often as they’d like, but that doesn’t mean your decades-old plant can’t be a shining example of food safety.

Let’s look at five things you can do now to ensure your older facility is up to today’s food safety standards.

 

Pit Dock Levelers vs. Vertical Dock Levelers: Which Is Right for Your Food Plant Loading Dock?

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Pit Dock Levelers vs. Vertical Dock Levelers: Which Is Right for Your Food Plant Loading Dock?

When it comes to designing loading docks for today’s food and beverage manufacturing facilities, there are two main choices when it comes to dock levelers: ones that store horizontally and ones that store vertically.

Pit, or recessed, dock levelers store horizontally and are the most commonly found across all industries. This traditional style of leveler has been around for decades and is used in a variety of facilities.

Vertical storing dock levelers have emerged as a newer alternative to pit levelers, and they are a better choice for food and beverage facilities and refrigerated warehouses. They are hydraulic powered and stand upright inside the building when not in use.

Which option is best for your facility? If you are a food or beverage processor, a vertical leveler is likely your best bet. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of this equipment to understand why.

 

Designing Food Plant Welfare Spaces to Attract and Retain Employees

7 features of a modern, personnel-focused facility

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Designing Food Plant Welfare Spaces to Attract and Retain Employees

Source: Bell & Evans (Robert Pepple)

 

Food and beverage manufacturing facilities in the U.S. today are experiencing a labor shortage, mostly due to a healthy economy and low unemployment rate. Turnover rates at these facilities are already high to begin with, so more food plant owners are looking to attract employees and increase retention rates.

Many of Stellar’s clients — whether they are building new facilities or renovating existing ones — are asking us to design employee welfare spaces to be more unique and attractive to prospective employees.

While processing areas are still the heart of a food plant, these spaces are increasingly being viewed from a personnel-focused perspective. Plus, break rooms and employee amenities are becoming more important for business than ever before.

 

The Industrial Internet of Things is Revolutionizing These 4 Areas of Food Manufacturing

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The Industrial Internet of Things is Revolutionizing These 4 Areas of Food Manufacturing

By now, we’ve all realized the reality of today’s internet-connected world: Smart devices aren’t just in our pockets and in our homes. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing the food and beverage industry.

We’re seeing more connected sensors, motors and controllers on the plant floor than ever before, and they’re being used in innovative new ways to optimize processing and inform operations decisions.

There are four main areas of a food plant where IIoT technology is having a major impact: