Cyberattacks, Hacking and Phishing Scams: the Food Processing Industry’s Multimillion-Dollar Problem

Food processing facilities have come a long way since pre-industrial days. Each year, food and beverage companies rely more heavily on automation, high-tech building management systems, remotely accessible machine sensors, modern data collection and the latest technology. While these innovations can help facilities run more smoothly, they can also leave them vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. 

In 2020, the average cost of a cyberattack was approximately $3.86 million, according to the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI). When computer intrusions happen, cybercriminals are typically seeking out a company’s intellectual property or customer and client data that can be exchanged for digital currencies, like passwords, protected health information, personal identity information and credit card information. 

Every company will be targeted by a malware or ransomware attack at some point. It’s just a matter of when, so it’s vital to have a robust cybersecurity plan that protects your assets and information.

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6 Ways Vertical Commissioning Can Benefit Your Next Food Facility Project

Signing on a new construction or renovation project presents an exciting time for food manufacturing owners ready to embark on the next stage of their business plan. A commissioning partner who uses a vertical start-up model can help ensure a smooth project handover.

Traditionally, commissioning occurs as construction nears completion when engineers begin installing and testing equipment to guarantee production lines will run properly. However, my experience is that waiting until the end to conduct system integration, simulations and automation can prolong start-up and cost owners valuable time, money and resources.

Applying best practices for commissioning and coordinating with owner equipment manufacturers (OEMs) early on can ensure facilities achieve full performance much faster and at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methodologies. 

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Best Practices for Building an Enterprise Data Warehouse from Scratch

Business intelligence (BI) and data analytics empower and enable organizations to quickly make fact-based decisions that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. 

Building an enterprise data warehouse can offer many benefits for food and beverage manufacturers and their construction partners, including improved safety, budget certainty, warranty tracking and knowledge management. 

Successful BI and analytics strategies are only possible when the database where information is stored is properly maintained. If any member of your team inputs incorrect or incomplete data, you’ll ultimately get inaccurate results, which could end up costing your facility money and time.

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How to Leverage Construction Data to Level Up Your Next Food Plant Project

Modern data collection and analytics have created infinite opportunities for businesses to leverage information to their advantage. Even the simplest piece of information can prove incredibly valuable to an operation when organized and used correctly.

However, storing data to let it sit collecting dust is a waste of time and resources. This is especially apparent in the food processing and construction industries because every moving piece can be cataloged and therefore analyzed to the user’s benefit. 

When used strategically, streamlined and actionable data integration can fuel effective and efficient decision-making at every stage of the design, construction and business management processes.

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Industrial Refrigeration Basics: Synthetic vs. Natural Refrigerants

Operable refrigerant systems have been in use since the 1830s, with ether as the original refrigerant. Over the years, the use of refrigerants has evolved as technology has advanced and research has revealed more about the impacts these substances have on the environment. 

New restrictions continue to be placed on the use of refrigerants, making it more important than ever for manufacturers, as well as commercial and industrial owners, to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes.

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Think You Know BIM? Think Again: How Building Information Modeling Boosts Sustainability

A sustainable revolution is underway and industrial/commercial buildings in the U.S. are lagging behind. Almost a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come directly from industrial sources, such as manufacturing, food processing, mining and construction, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

“If direct and indirect emissions are combined, the industrial sector is the largest emitting sector in the U.S. economy, responsible for 29.6% of total emissions,” according to data provided by C2ES.

While you may be familiar with Building Information Modeling (BIM), it’s often underestimated and pigeonholed as merely a design and construction tool. However, when implemented strategically, BIM is the key to turning industrial facilities into long-term sustainability powerhouses and providing transparency and a sense of order to what has historically been a nebulous process.

A building’s design, construction and operation produce data that comprise a complex puzzle — BIM helps solve it.

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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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