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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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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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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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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The Stage-Gate Approach and Why it’s at the Root of Successful Project Development Strategy

Process-related project development can be a lengthy, expensive and unnecessarily complicated process without a solid plan to guide the project from start to finish.

Imagine investing in a large, complex piece of equipment or component for your facility without first confirming the question of how it will be integrated into your existing controls/automation system. If it doesn’t easily “connect” (plug-and-play), then you may need to reengineer the system(s), buy additional hardware/software, and/or delay the project timeline to resolve an issue that should have been identified prior to the purchase. The same holds true for other questions, such as when this equipment should be installed. If it does not align with your overall business objectives and strategy, then there could be negative consequences.

The AIA stage-gate process (also referred to as the phase-gate process) is a project management technique that breaks down complex projects into structured phases to mitigate risk and ultimately minimize (ideally eliminate) the consequences of poor planning.

In this article, we will address the stage gate approach and how it pertains to the process equipment integration portion of a project.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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