4 Sustainability Features from Our Latest Award-winning Food Plant

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4 Sustainability Features from Our Latest Award-winning Food Plant

Stellar’s recent design-build project for Cuisine Solutions was named Food Engineering magazine’s 2021 Sustainable Plant of the Year. The LEED-registered facility in San Antonio, Texas, is the largest sous vide processing plant in the world with nearly $200 million in investment and measuring 315,000 square feet.

The state-of-the-art facility boasts innovative eco-friendly technologies both inside and out. In addition to saving millions of gallons of water annually via reuse in storage silos, Cuisine Solutions embraced many other sustainable measures. Let’s look at four of its notable sustainability features that could be relevant for other projects, regardless of product or processing.

 

Are HEPA Filters the Best Choice for Your Facility?

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Are HEPA Filters the Best Choice for Your Facility?

Billions of particles can lace unconditioned air with dust, dirt, bacteria and viruses. That’s why your food plant’s air filters are crucial to preventing contamination and ensuring food safety. But when it comes to filtration, more isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. HEPA filters are a necessity for many plant environments, but the level of filtration can vary, potentially making certain options expensive overkill for others.

 

Preventing a Botulism Recall Before it Happens

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Preventing a Botulism Recall Before it Happens

Most of us were taught during childhood not to eat canned food from dented or bulging cans to avoid botulism poisoning. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 7% of botulism outbreaks between 1950 and 1996 were traced to commercially processed foods. The prospect of cans causing botulism poisoning carries such notoriety due to a widely publicized botulism outbreak in 1919 linked to a shipment of canned black olives that killed 18 people in a handful of states. This instilled widespread fear of botulism coming from canned goods into the psyche of American consumers — a fear that has been passed on from generation to generation.

In the aftermath of the outbreak, a consortium of canned food producers, scientific experts and government officials came together to develop strict regulations and establish state inspection services for canned foods processing. Not only did these regulations form the basis of what we now know as the nation’s food safety system, they restored the public’s confidence in canned foods and in the national food industry.

 

17 Common Ammonia Safety Issues Your Refrigeration Personnel Can Control (and Correct)

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15 Common Ammonia Safety Issues Your Refrigeration Personnel Can Control (And Correct)

It’s always a good time to check up on your facility’s safety — but now the stakes are even higher when it comes to safety violations.

Employers across the U.S. have been facing higher penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this year. In January 2021, the federal agency announced it was increasing the maximum penalty for serious and other than serious citations to $13,653 and the maximum for repeat and willful violations to $136,532. 

 

How to Prepare Your Ammonia Refrigeration System for a Hurricane

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How to Prepare Your Ammonia Refrigeration System for a Hurricane

Hurricane season is here, and will be with us for a few months to come. That means processing facilities and distribution warehouses should pay extra attention to tropical forecasts, especially if their operations are located near the coast. On this blog, we’ve previously discussed best practices for preparing for a hurricane, including in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

If your facility relies on ammonia refrigeration, however, preparing for a major storm is that much more important due to the potential for an ammonia release caused by weather damage. The most important thing is to establish a sound process safety management (PSM) program with standard operating procedures on how your facility prepares for a storm. You might be surprised at the number of plants that don’t have this outlined, especially smaller ones. Even if your system is under the 10,000-pound ammonia threshold, you should have a plan in place under the OSHA and EPA General Duty Clause. Ignoring these safety issues can be a lot more costly to address after the fact. It’s a good practice to prepare, prevent and execute a plan for emergencies. 

 

Make to Stock vs. Make to Order: Why One is on the Rise (and What Manufacturers Need to Know)

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Make to Stock vs. Make to Order Why One is on the Rise (and What Manufacturers Need to Know)

Historically, most food and beverage manufacturers have used some combination of production strategies to develop their products, but recent supply chain disruptions and consumers’ desire for variety are forcing many to rethink their approach.

Make to stock (MTS) is a traditional “build-ahead” production strategy in which manufacturing plans are based upon sales forecasts and/or historical demand. A company using this approach would estimate how many orders its products could generate, and then supply enough stock to meet those orders.

Make to order (MTO), on the other hand, is a production approach in which products are not made until a confirmed order is received. This typically allows consumers to purchase products customized to their specifications.

 

Will COVID-19 Change the Future of Food Plant Design?

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Will COVID-19 Change the Future of Food Plant Design?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a number of immediate and temporary changes to daily life: reduced occupancy limits, partitions, social distancing, one-way stairwells and more.

While these short-term adaptations were necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, will the pandemic change the way facilities are built in the long term? The likely answer is, not dramatically.

However, it is shaping the way we think about designing these spaces. Let’s look at some examples of trends we may see in the post-COVID era.

 

Remote Work Solutions We’re Making Routine Even After the Pandemic

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Remote Work Solutions We're Making Routine Even After the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to improvise as the sudden shift to remote working disrupted “business as usual” for a lot of employees. At Stellar, we had emergency plans in place to allow for an easy shift to remote work — and it was so successful that the company adopted a full-time work-from-home model for the majority of its workforce.

With restrictions easing and vaccines more readily available, we’re slowly returning to some sense of normalcy. And while there are plenty of things we won’t miss about pandemic life, there are tools and strategies that flourished over the past year that yielded more efficient, predictable and accurate project results for our clients. Let’s look at a few that are here to stay:

 

4 Ways Site Location Can Affect Construction Costs

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Building anything right now can be daunting and expensive, much less a large industrial facility. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of construction materials has skyrocketed, labor is scarce and demand is surging. But that doesn’t mean the food supply chain can stop.

Food manufacturers and distributors still have customers to serve — and, for some, that still means investing in a new facility. At a time when construction costs are high, a company might make up for it in savings by reconsidering where the facility is built.

 

4 Tips to Get Your New Process Facility ‘Off the Ground’

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4 Tips to Get Your New Process Facility 'Off the Ground'

Facilities that support process operations produce some of the most expensive and complex buildings in the world. And they run the gamut: “Process operations” can range from baking desserts such as cakes to processing raw meat for grocery operations, to manufacturing parts and components for U.S. Navy submarines. 

So what do facilities across such diverse markets have in common besides being founded on their process? For one, the costly and painful struggle of getting the project started. Many times, important early stages are executed out-of-order or even too late. Let’s look at four recommendations that may seem obvious, but if executed properly, will take some of the pain out of beginning your next process facility.