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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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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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:

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Vertical Farming Can Bring Sustainability and Steadiness to the Supply Chain

As we explained in this previous post, vertical farming is a farming technique where crops are grown indoors in a laboratory-like, climate-controlled space. Instead of a crop being limited to geographical regions that provide the ideal growing conditions, vertical farmers can fine-tune the level of water, nutrients, humidity and temperature, as well as light frequency, duration and intensity to create the most ideal environment possible for the crop to grow.

A handful of rural conventional farms are the mega-producers that supply vast swathes of the country with fruits and vegetables, generally located far away from the urban and suburban areas where their crops are shipped to be made available to consumers. The shipping journey — often spanning thousands of miles of highway or open ocean — leads to large amounts of waste and product loss, in addition to creating a large carbon footprint. 

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Vertical Farming Could Bring the Farm to Your Block

Vertical farming is a soilless method of farming that takes place inside a climate-controlled, laboratory-like environment. Farmers are able to fine-tune indoor spaces to the crops they want to grow, instead of being limited to growing crops that a particular outdoor area can support. 

The ability to grow in-demand produce without the massive footprint of an outdoor farm, regardless of climate, has led to more vertical farming facilities in urban areas, where produce is grown, harvested and quickly shipped to retailers in the same city. This cuts down on product loss and shipping damage while increasing the shelf life and quality of produce once it hits the shelves.

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Improve Your Food Plant’s Sustainability With These 5 Tips

Most food and beverage companies aren’t against being more eco-friendly — it’s just that achieving sustainability in a food processing plant can be easier said than done.

The upfront investment associated with energy-efficient solutions, such as “green” building materials and equipment, can be difficult to justify. How do you know which energy-efficient options will provide the best return on investment?

As we observe Earth Day this week, let’s look at ways to invest in your food plant that are both good for the planet and provide a solid return on investment (ROI).

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The Benefits and Basics of Building Management Systems for Food Plants

We live in a world where we have unprecedented access to a wide variety of data — and food and beverage plants are no exception. Owners increasingly want to know what’s going on in their facilities from water and electricity consumption to other processing and mechanical data.

Building management systems can monitor and control various elements throughout a building, such as:

  • HVAC systems
  • Lighting
  • Plumbing
  • Processing equipment
  • Security systems

While these systems are utilized in various commercial buildings, they’re especially important in food manufacturing facilities, which use a significant amount of energy and water in their processing.

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6 Points, One Stone: How Low-Impact Development (LID) Can Help Achieve LEED Certification

If you’re not familiar with low-impact development (LID), you may want to keep reading before building your next facility or warehouse. Thanks to recent changes in LEED requirements, we’re going to see an increase in projects utilizing LID in the near future.

What exactly is low-impact development? How can you make the most of LID and maximize it when applying for LEED certification? Let’s unpack what it means for your next project.

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5 Ways to Reduce Water Use in Your Food Processing Plant

Food and beverage manufacturing facilities are notorious for how much water they consume. While water is central to your plant’s operations, there may be ways you can operate more efficiently and be smarter about how your plant uses water.

Optimizing your water consumption is not only better for the planet, but it may save you in utility costs as well. Let’s look at five basic ways to reduce water consumption in a facility.

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Understanding LEED v4’s Energy and Water Use Prerequisites and Credits

When it comes to green building, LEED v4 is the new standard. As of October 31, 2016, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) will only accept new LEED registrations under LEED v4. Although the registration date was extended, the last day projects can submit for v3 certification — the sunset date — is still June 30, 2021.

The latest version of the LEED rating system features more rigorous standards, and while some of the credits and prerequisites are essentially the same as the 2009 version, there are some significant changes.

I outlined those changes in a previous post, but now let’s take a closer look at some of the new prerequisites and credits ushered in by LEED v4, specifically those involving energy use and environmental impact.

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