Building a Food Plant: 5 Ways to Prevent Schedule Delays

The food and beverage design-build process demands attention to detail and a high level of expertise to navigate a maze of regulations, adhere to strict food safety guidelines, stay within budget and guarantee the facility is well-equipped to meet long-term production goals.

Effectively coordinating different disciplines, vendors and subcontractors to ensure timely and on-budget execution is an ongoing challenge in construction projects that requires careful planning and communication. 

As an owner, you’re in the driver’s seat and play a pivotal role in the overall success of the project. Here are some key things you can do to support your design and construction teams and help streamline the process.

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Is Your Refrigeration Contractor Pencil-Whipping Your Preventive Maintenance Program?

Temperature control is vital in the food and beverage industry, where slight fluctuations can threaten product integrity and put consumer health at risk. 

Preventive maintenance programs (PMPs) help ensure refrigeration equipment operates at peak performance, regardless of a system’s age or the refrigerant it uses.

Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of maintenance work can elevate the risk of complacency. This is extremely dangerous in the context of industrial refrigeration because even a single oversight can quickly become life-threatening.

Have you noticed your technician or contractor mindlessly checking boxes on inspection forms, failing to report daily or weekly anomalies in equipment run data, or generally failing to give your system their undivided professional attention? If so, I have bad news: you may be dealing with a pencil whipper, and you’ll want to address the issue sooner rather than later.

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How to Write Better Electrical Specifications for Food Manufacturing Equipment

There are certain performance expectations your food processing equipment should meet to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Failing to establish and standardize equipment specifications (specs) during the procurement process can directly impact your plant’s safety, sanitation, efficiency and profitability.

You may be thinking, “But Michael, I already have a specs list written out, and it’s worked perfectly for us so far.” And that may be true! However, in my experience, many small- and mid-sized companies have room to improve in this area. 

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7 Best Practices for Designing a Clean-in-Place System

A clean-in-place (CIP) system is a cost-effective and time-saving tool that rinses and washes the inside surfaces of food processing piping and equipment without mechanical disassembly. When designed well, a CIP system improves sanitation and enhances food safety while both simplifying the cleaning process for plant operators and reducing downtime. It automates what has traditionally been a laborious and time-consuming manual process of disassembling the piping, hand-cleaning each component and reassembling equipment.

In addition to lost revenue from halted production, improperly cleaned equipment can spread foodborne contaminants from batch to batch, which is dangerous to consumers and can lead to recalls that directly impact a company’s bottom line and reputation.

If you’re considering investing in a CIP system for your facility, it’s important to ensure you’re getting a design that is reliable and up-to-date. Your process design team should consider the overall needs of your operation, including changeover efficiency, water conservation and how the design will affect the complexity of the system.

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What the USDA’s new Billion-Dollar Plan Means for Food Processors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is renewing its commitment to strengthen critical supply chains and address long-standing challenges within the food production and processing industries. 

“As the pandemic has evolved and Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused supply chain disruptions, it has become clear we cannot go back to the food system we had before,” said the USDA in a press release. 

The USDA aims to make the industry more competitive, equitable and resilient by investing billions of dollars in the food system. These investments are designed to build on a framework of similar legislation introduced in 2021 and could make the industry even more competitive.

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Industrial Refrigeration Basics: Synthetic vs. Natural Refrigerants

Operable refrigerant systems have been in use since the 1830s, with ether as the original refrigerant. Over the years, the use of refrigerants has evolved as technology has advanced and research has revealed more about the impacts these substances have on the environment. 

New restrictions continue to be placed on the use of refrigerants, making it more important than ever for manufacturers, as well as commercial and industrial owners, to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and changes.

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Think You Know BIM? Think Again: How Building Information Modeling Boosts Sustainability

A sustainable revolution is underway and industrial/commercial buildings in the U.S. are lagging behind. Almost a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come directly from industrial sources, such as manufacturing, food processing, mining and construction, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

“If direct and indirect emissions are combined, the industrial sector is the largest emitting sector in the U.S. economy, responsible for 29.6% of total emissions,” according to data provided by C2ES.

While you may be familiar with Building Information Modeling (BIM), it’s often underestimated and pigeonholed as merely a design and construction tool. However, when implemented strategically, BIM is the key to turning industrial facilities into long-term sustainability powerhouses and providing transparency and a sense of order to what has historically been a nebulous process.

A building’s design, construction and operation produce data that comprise a complex puzzle — BIM helps solve it.

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Your Checklist for Updating Your Facility’s Risk Management Program

Facilities, including food and beverage manufacturers, that use certain flammable and toxic substances in amounts that exceed threshold quantities must have a documented Risk Management Plan (RMP) per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements. Companies must update and resubmit their RMP at least every five years.

The EPA requires each facility to review all sections of their RMP, update where appropriate, and certify that the entire RMP is accurate and complete.

According to the EPA’s checklist, here are the key elements that should be reviewed for resubmission:

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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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Does your PSM compliance training meet the latest OSHA requirements? [infographic]

Industrial refrigeration managers know that their personnel must undergo Process Safety Management (PSM) compliance training — but how do they know if their current training meets with the latest requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)?

For example, did you know that simply sending your refrigeration team off for generic training at another facility is not enough? OSHA 1910.119 mandates being trained on your specific equipment and process.

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