What you need to know about retrofitting an existing facility, mergers & acquisitions, OEM integrations and more
Dec 14, 2017
This year was characterized by continued change and disruption in the ever-evolving food and beverage industry from a record-breaking hurricane season to the Amazon-Whole Foods merger.
As a design-build firm specializing in food and beverage plants, we at Stellar observed some notable trends in 2017 that are shaping the way facilities operate and the way companies in the industry do business.
As we approach the new year, here are a few of my reflections and takeaways from the past year in the food and beverage industry.
Dec 7, 2017
Virtual walkthroughs with VR headsets
Virtual reality (VR) is changing the game when it comes to designing facilities for the food and beverage industry. With a VR headset, you can “walk through” your new building during the design phase, months before the first brick is laid.
Rather than examining a 2D design on a sheet of paper, 3D modeling coupled with virtual reality technology can bring a building to life without having to interpret complicated designs.
Nov 30, 2017
So you want your building to be LEED certified, but what level should you pursue? Does a more energy-efficient facility mean completely revamping your processing? What about food safety?
LEED certification is a good thing, but it should not dictate every decision in a new-build or plant renovation. Checking credits off your LEED checklist shouldn’t come at the expense of performance and food safety.
Let’s look at some factors to designing a sustainable facility that go beyond the traditional aspects like electricity and water use. But first things first: where to begin?
Energy management from an engineering perspective
Nov 16, 2017
Everyone wants to improve their energy management, and while there are countless best practices to improve energy efficiency in your processing, I look at it from an engineering perspective.
When designing a new facility or renovating an existing one, I consider the different ways the plant can prioritize energy management within each engineering group that brings the building to life. Let’s explore how you can design energy management into your next greenfield or renovation project.
From virtual reality to pre-prepared foods
Nov 9, 2017
Source: Flexible Packaging magazine
I had the opportunity to attend Pack Expo 2017 in Las Vegas this fall with a team from Stellar. We met leaders from various segments of the F&B industry and enjoyed showing off our virtual design construction (VDC) technology.
These shows are always a great opportunity to network with food industry leaders and to see the very latest technologies and trends. This year was no exception. These were my big takeaways:
Nov 2, 2017
How old is the control system at your facility? In most processing plants, the control system consists of field instruments that are wired to I/O cards which feed to a central PLC controller. Operators communicate with the PLC through a human machine interface (HMI) computer.
While the lifespan of an HMI computer is about the same as a typical desktop computer, the instruments, field wiring, I/O boards and PLC controllers last a lot longer — and the mentality of most operators is: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Upgrading a control system is a costly investment, and, as a result, many facilities have field hardware that is decades old.
So, when is it worth upgrading your control system? And what options do you have?
Oct 12, 2017
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an internationally recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food. A HACCP system requires that potential biological, chemical or physical hazards are identified and controlled at specific points in the process. Any company involved in the manufacturing, processing or handling of food products can use HACCP to improve food safety.
So how does it work? Implementing a HACCP system requires that both prerequisite programs and HACCP plans are implemented:
- Prerequisite programs are programs that are put in place in the facility to control hazards in the environment, preventing contamination of the product (see examples)
- HACCP Plans are prepared for each process or product, and identify possible hazards and controls in place to make sure the hazards are eliminated or controlled to ensure acceptable levels in the food product
Let’s examine the steps to developing a solid HACCP plan.
Oct 5, 2017
If you’re considering sites for a new facility, you may come across listings for speculative (“spec”) buildings. Developers often construct these basic, pre-engineered buildings in anticipation of a future tenant, and they can be attractive for owners looking for a new space.
What’s the catch? Spec buildings may seem like a convenient and cost-effective option, but not all tenant needs are the same, especially when it comes to food and beverage manufacturing. In fact, investing in a new spec building may end up costing you more in the long run than if you were to just construct a custom facility from scratch.
Sep 28, 2017
Consumer demand for “clean labels” with simple and natural ingredients has been a driving force in the food industry in recent years. In fact, clean-label foods is forecasted to be a $180 billion global market by 2020, and many food manufacturers are reformulating recipes to adapt with the growing trend.
The idea behind clean eating is avoiding foods with preservatives, artificial additives and “ingredients you can’t pronounce.” Although most of these additives are USDA-approved and technically safe to consume, they have undoubtedly developed a stigma among consumers.
Sep 21, 2017
Photo: Food Engineering’s “How to determine the best sensor for filling applications”
Filling and weighing systems are a fundamental part of the food and beverage industry. On the line, they establish fill weights, volumes and levels for products whether it’s flavorings, beverages, slurry products or bulk containers of dry and/or liquid ingredients.
When it comes to recipes, the slightest change in ingredients can spoil an entire batch of product — that’s why precise weighing is paramount.