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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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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17 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. 

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4 Ways Site Location Can Affect Construction Costs

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.

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How Blockchain, IIoT and AI Make the Global Supply Chain More Resilient

The Suez Canal blockage in March 2021 pointed out a major pinch point — for lack of a better term — within the global supply chain. One ship getting blown off course during a predictable sandstorm halted 12% of global trade — an estimated $9.6 billion per day. While the Ever Given was freed after six days, the ripple effects of the event will be felt for months due to the thousands of ships delayed in those six days.

Witnessing the magnitude of what a single ship mishap can do to interrupt global trade makes it obvious that safeguards need to be put in place to prevent such events in the future. If an accident put a stop to 12% of global trade, what kind of damage could an intentional act inflict?

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RFID vs. Barcodes: Advantages and Disadvantages for Food Traceability

Barcodes have long been the standard for tracking products throughout the food and beverage supply chain. But technological advancements have introduced RFID as another option across a variety of industries. What’s the difference?

What is RFID?

RFID, short for Radio Frequency Identification, is the use of radio frequency waves to wirelessly transfer data without contact. Tagging items with RFID tags allows users to automatically and uniquely identify and track inventory and assets.

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Quell Sprinkler System: The Best Fire Protection for Cold Storage Facilities

Source: Tyco Fire Protection Products

Many food distribution warehouse owners rely on a proven “ceiling only” fire protection system designed specifically for cold storage facilities. The Quell™ Fire Sprinkler System (K17), developed in 2006, has quickly become an industry standard for cold storage warehouses — and for good reason.

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5 Budget Factors to Consider When Designing Cold Storage Warehouses

The need for cold storage facilities is greater than ever. Product integrity and fresh products are in demand as Millennials become major players in the consumer market. This generation of buyers favor healthier, fresher and higher quality products that have a shorter shelf life — meaning an efficient distribution network is crucial to serve these consumers.

But how can you design your warehouse cost-effectively?

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4 Ways to Expand Value-Added Services at Your Cold Storage Warehouse

A major trend in the cold storage industry today is a push toward expanding value-added services — additional, non-core services cold storage companies can offer clients. As client needs change, many operators of traditional warehouse spaces are looking to diversify and create new revenue streams.

But what options are out there? Let’s look at the current trends in value-added services being offered by cold storage operators.

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