Choosing a Systems Integrator (SI) to Advance Your Automation Strategy

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Choosing a Systems Integrator (SI) to Advance Your Automation Strategy

The use and development of industrial robotics and automation technology has accelerated in recent years, and that growth remains at full speed ahead. According to a recent ABI Research report, more than a half million mobile robots will be shipped to warehouses globally by 2030. That’s a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of nearly 40% in the next decade — and that’s just for distribution warehouses, not to mention manufacturing and processing facilities.

Many large food and beverage manufacturers have in-house engineering teams that provide automation and system integration services to their various facilities. However, most small- and medium-sized processors don’t have that capability, meaning they must often partner with an outside systems integrator (SI) to advance their automation strategy and bring new systems online.

With so many available options in the vast field of automation and robotics, selecting an SI can seem like a daunting endeavor — but it doesn’t have to be.

 

Retrofitting an Existing Space for Cold Storage? Keep These Factors in Mind.

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Cold storage is already a multibillion-dollar market, but it’s expected to continue growing in the years ahead. This surge is fueled by a number of factors, including:

  • Increased demand for fresh food
  • Growth in supermarket sales (especially since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • A rise in online grocery shopping
  • The need for pharmaceutical drug and vaccine storage

As cold storage construction booms, some are converting existing buildings into refrigerated facilities. However, cold storage warehouses require unique specifications for the structure’s thermal envelope that are much more complex than a typical dry warehouse.

It’s crucial to understand these unique differences and the level of specialized detail involved, especially when it comes to a retrofit. Otherwise, you may face costly problems with your facility’s performance and thermal envelope in the future.

 

Inside the World’s Largest Sous Vide Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

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Inside the World’s Largest Sous Vide Processing Facility [PHOTOS]

“Sous vide” is French for “under vacuum” and has been around for decades in France. Since 1971, Cuisine Solutions — along with subsidiary CREA and Chief Scientist Dr. Bruno Goussault — has been perfecting the sous vide technology utilizing cooking time and temperature as the foundations of its development.

As the need for food safety and consistency has dramatically increased in recent decades, the company continued investing in more production capacity, new adjacent technologies and greater innovations — including a new plant in San Antonio, Texas.

 

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.