[VIDEO] See How Virtual Reality Can Take You Inside Your Food Plant Design

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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.

 

How to Achieve LEED Certification Without Sacrificing Process Performance

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How to Achieve LEED Certification Without Sacrificing Process Performance

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?

 

How to Conserve Energy Across Every Aspect of Your Food Plant

Energy management from an engineering perspective

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How to Conserve Energy Across Every Aspect of Your Food Plant

 

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.

 

3 Food Processing Trends from Pack Expo 2017 (and Beyond)

From virtual reality to pre-prepared foods

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3 Food Processing Trends from Pack Expo 2017 (and Beyond)

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:

 

Industrial Automation: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Control System?

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Industrial Automation: Is It Time to Upgrade Your Control System?

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?

 

4 Lessons for Pioneering a New Process in Food Manufacturing

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4 Lessons for Pioneering a New Process in Food Manufacturing

Last week on the blog, we examined the brand new, state-of-the-art hatchery Stellar completed for poultry processor Bell & Evans. The facility — which is the first certified organic, humane, animal-welfare focused chick hatchery in the United States — is an example of trailblazing a new approach to traditional food processing.

Not only does it employ fascinating and cutting-edge technology, but this project contains lessons for any food manufacturer looking to pioneer or experiment in their own particular market.

 

[PHOTOS] An Inside Look at the First Organic Humane, Animal Welfare-Focused Chick Hatchery in the U.S.

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[PHOTOS] An Inside Look at the First Organic Humane, Animal Welfare-Focused Chick Hatchery in the U.S.

This summer, Stellar completed one of its more unique design-build projects: a state-of-the-art, organic-certified and highly publicized chick hatchery for poultry processor Bell & Evans. The 120,000-square-foot facility in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania began operations in September and is the first of its kind in the United States.

As the project developer, I worked with the Bell & Evans team to help develop this unique, industry-shaping facility.

 

The 12 Steps to Develop a HACCP Plan

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The 12 Steps to Develop a HACCP Plan

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.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Use a Spec Building for a Food and Beverage Facility

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Why You Shouldn’t Use a Spec Building for a Food and Beverage Facility

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.

 

Want Clean Labels for Your Bakery and Snack Products? Try Freezing Them

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Want Clean Labels for Your Bakery and Snack Products? Try Freezing Them

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.