Hoses Are The Arteries of Food Production: Have You Selected Wisely?

6 takeaways from a recent Food Processing webinar

Like the human body is dependent upon veins and arteries to support a beating heart, so are food-grade hoses vital to safely connecting various stages of production to an uncompromised finished product.  

Safety is the number one priority of every food processor, and as such owners need to protect the safety of the food they handle every step of the way.

Selecting the correct hoses is essential to success, especially when there are a variety of hoses on the market created for a range of applications, from distilleries to dairies. The specification process becomes paramount: A poorly chosen hose can easily become a weak link in a plant’s food safety program, and even prove a danger to employees.

Degradation from fats and oils is a perpetual battle in maintaining the integrity of hoses, as are other conditions, such as functioning under high pressure as well as the high temperatures of the liquids they transport. Abrasion from machines and flooring within the facility is an added consideration that is sometimes overlooked. 

Food Processing magazine hosted a webinar in December discussing the importance of food-grade hoses for food production. Food Processing magazine editor-in-chief Dave Fusaro led a conversation on the topic alongside two experts from Parker Hannifin Corporation: Matthew Davis, business development manager of the Hose Products Division, and Dylan Shamakian, sales manager of Fluid Connectors Group Hose Products Division. 

Here are some of the most important things to consider when choosing the right hose to keep employees and products safe:

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Wraparound or RSC Packaging? How Case Design Can Impact Your Bottom Line

The accelerated expansion of e-commerce over the past five years paired with ongoing supply chain constraints have affected a crucial area of food and beverage processing: packaging.

The price of corrugated has been steadily increasing for years, but recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals a sharp spike in cost since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of corrugated and solid fiber box manufacturing products reached an all-time high in February 2022.

In the face of significant price increases, owners must be strategic and intentional with material purchases and investments. This is the perfect time to reevaluate your facility’s current packaging process, including whether a change in case style could help optimize your process and save money.

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Struggling to Staff the Third Shift? Combat Labor Shortages with These Automation Solutions

As labor market woes continue, adopting some degree of automation is no longer optional for companies looking to remain agile and equipped to meet future consumer demands.

Even industries that historically haven’t struggled with labor shortages are now finding it challenging to hire staff. With a peak record of 11.3 million jobs open in January 2022 and not enough workers available, more manufacturers are turning to robotics to fill the gaps.

In fact, U.S. factories ordered a record 29,000 robots during the first nine months of 2021, a 37% increase from 2020, according to data from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3).

The good news? Automated systems are getting cheaper to implement and improving technology is making systems more reliable. At Stellar, we’re constantly monitoring developments and best practices for leveraging robotics in our clients’ facilities to help them improve efficiency and productivity — not to mention combating that growing labor gap.

Let’s review some modern automation tools and the many ways robotics can be implemented into the food manufacturing process.

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4 Strategies for Mitigating Supply Chain Disruptions in Your Next Construction Project

Construction firms are fighting an uphill battle to maintain project budgets and schedules as the industry grapples with global supply chain disruptions. 

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) reported that material prices for nonresidential construction soared 21% from February 2021 to February 2022, and analysts predict costs will continue going up. Additionally, logistical bottlenecks such as overseas shipping delays and shortages in the transportation sector are drastically impacting project lead times. 

Stellar’s industry veterans are discovering there are ways to mitigate supply chain disruptions and their effects on construction projects — but only if construction firms are willing to shift their paradigm and use a different approach when working with their clients. 

Here are four ways our teams are navigating the waters.

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Your Checklist for Updating Your Facility’s Risk Management Program

Facilities, including food and beverage manufacturers, that use certain flammable and toxic substances in amounts that exceed threshold quantities must have a documented Risk Management Plan (RMP) per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. Companies must update and resubmit their RMP at least every five years.

The EPA requires each facility to review all sections of their RMP, update where appropriate, and certify that the entire RMP is accurate and complete.

According to the EPA’s checklist, here are the key elements that should be reviewed for resubmission:

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Low-Impact Development: From Eco-friendly Trend to Industry Standard

Environmentally conscious construction sites have earned praise over the years as the world’s priorities have shifted to address growing climate concerns. 

The World Green Building Council (GBC) estimates the building and construction sector is globally responsible for 50% of the world’s resource consumption, 36% of energy consumption and 38% of energy-related carbon emissions. Keeping this in mind, any time a building or facility can feature sustainable design, it’s a win for the planet.

Expectations are changing, however. What was once seen as the “cherry on top” of a construction project is quickly becoming standard practice.

A prime example of this is the evolution of the use of low-impact development (LID).

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Factors to Consider Before Using 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.

Upfront, spec buildings offer to reduce costs by cutting out design and construction steps from a tenant’s to-do list — but there’s a catch. Food and beverage manufacturing has unique needs and it’s impossible to guarantee a spec building will meet them without retrofitting. Although leasing a spec building may be attractive to manufacturers who want to ramp up production quickly, there is the potential that they will incur additional costs the owner wasn’t anticipating.

It can be a valuable option in certain situations, but there are factors to consider before making a final decision.

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Food Safety: 7 Pest Hotspots to Monitor

It’s no secret that food processing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers must maintain high standards to ensure food safety. If pests infiltrate a workspace, every area of production is at risk. Not only can pests carry diseases that threaten health and safety, an infestation could also lead to product loss, product recall, reputation damage, product liability lawsuits and a facility’s shutdown.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 48 million Americans get sick from foodborne diseases every year, while thousands more are hospitalized or even die from them. 

Understanding the threats, developing a robust pest prevention strategy and recognizing when it’s time to call for help are vital to protecting your operations, staff and customers.

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5 Coffee Trends to Watch in 2022

Nearly two years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, consumers continue to rely on daily comforts for moments of normalcy in uncertain times. Coffee is at the top of that list.

For years, coffee has earned a top spot among America’s favorite drinks. In a recent national study, the National Coffee Association found 60% of respondents had a coffee in the past day, more than any other beverage — including water!

While it’s a safe bet that coffee will continue being the beverage of choice for many Americans, how they drink it is constantly changing, and the food and beverage industry needs to stay on top of these evolving trends to stay competitive.

We’ve pulled together some of the hottest trends to watch in 2022.

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Does your PSM compliance training meet the latest OSHA requirements? [infographic]

Industrial refrigeration managers know that their personnel must undergo Process Safety Management (PSM) compliance training — but how do they know if their current training meets with the latest requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?

For example, did you know that simply sending your refrigeration team off for generic training at another facility is not enough? OSHA 1910.119 mandates being trained on your specific equipment and process.

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