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.

 

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.

 

Augmented Reality in Building Design and Construction

How we’re using AR technology, HoloLens and more to build the facilities of tomorrow

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Augmented Reality in Building Design and Construction

Image credit: VisualLive‘s AR app, MobiLive

 

Augmented reality (AR) — superimposing computer-generated images on the user’s view of the real world — is increasingly used in a variety of applications today. From smartphone games and social media filters to furniture design and classroom education, this technology is being utilized across virtually every industry, and building design and construction is no exception.

In fact, exciting developments are happening at the intersection of AR and the work we do at Stellar. While it’s been used as a marketing and selling tool, we’re beginning to apply AR on job sites more frequently. It’s safe to say this powerful technology is revolutionizing the way buildings are designed, constructed and renovated.

 

7 Ways to Use Drones in Building Design, Construction and Maintenance

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7 Ways to Use Drones in Building Design, Construction and Maintenance

Drone technology is helping redefine the way we design, construct and maintain buildings. Drones do more than just take photos — they can benefit both the builder and owner by improving design accuracy, overall quality and long-term maintenance.

Thanks to software and technology advancements, drones can be used in various stages of a building’s life and can perform several key functions, including:

 

How to Get the Best Price for Your Next Food Plant Construction Project in Today’s Fast-Paced Market

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How to Get the Best Price for Your Next Food Plant Construction Project in Today’s Fast-Paced Market

It’s an exciting and interesting time for both the food manufacturing and construction industries. Thanks to recent tax reform, a healthy economy and other factors, capital spending is up, and the industrial/commercial construction industry is bigger than it has been in decades. This trend is expected to continue, with U.S. construction projected to grow by 4.5 percent over the next several years.

While many would agree that this is a positive, it can also present challenges for food and beverage companies looking to build new facilities or renovate existing ones. Today’s booming construction market means things move fast and contractors can be more selective.

So how can you ensure you get the best price when seeking out a firm for your next project?

 

Food Plant Construction: The Design-Build Method Continues to Grow

3 takeaways from the Food Marketing Institute’s new market study

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Food Plant Construction: The Design-Build Method Continues to Grow

Business owners are increasingly discovering the benefits of working with design-build firms, according to a comprehensive new study on the design-build market released by Food Marketing Institute (FMI). The study found design-build now makes up almost half of all construction projects nationwide, and market share is expected to keep growing over the next three years.

Research showed design-build use has not only expanded across all sectors and regions of the U.S., but owners who used this project delivery method were more satisfied with their experience compared to other methods due to advantages like innovation and quick speed to market.

Here are the key takeaways from FMI’s study on the design-build market now and where it’s headed in the next few years.  

 

The Underrated Value of Industry Conferences: Reflections from the 2018 IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo

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The Underrated Value of Industry Conferences: Reflections from the 2018 IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo

I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 IIAR Natural Refrigeration Conference & Expo in March, and it got me thinking about the value in these industry events. Why do we attend them?

There are countless niche conferences that cover every segment of the food and beverage industry, from packaging to refrigeration and from dairy to meat. These events bring professionals together from across the country and world — but why are they so important?

 

How to Design Efficient Product Flow into a New Food Plant

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How to Design Efficient Product Flow into a New Food Plant

Product flow inefficiencies can create a detrimental domino effect within your food and beverage business. When your processing “chain” has breaks and delays, it can cost money, waste time, jeopardize food quality and introduce safety hazards on the production floor.

In last week’s post, we discussed how to detect product flow problems in an existing facility and how to improve them. Now, we’ll focus on how to ensure a new facility is set up for success from receiving to shipping and everything in between.

The ultimate key to success is designing a plant that is linear so that product moves seamlessly downstream through each of the below steps without interruption.

Let’s take a look at those individual steps and how to optimize each for efficient product flow.