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.
Facilities that support process operations produce some of the most expensive and complex buildings in the world. And they run the gamut: “Process operations” can range from baking desserts such as cakes to processing raw meat for grocery operations, to manufacturing parts and components for U.S. Navy submarines.
So what do facilities across such diverse markets have in common besides being founded on their process? For one, the costly and painful struggle of getting the project started. Many times, important early stages are executed out-of-order or even too late. Let’s look at four recommendations that may seem obvious, but if executed properly, will take some of the pain out of beginning your next process facility.
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.
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.
Such impressive numbers may have you wondering if you should try the tofu and look into entering this emerging market. Let’s lean on the “know before you go” adage and help you make an informed decision.
Among all these moving parts, it can be easy for a plant owner’s original vision or goals to be lost or not fully realized. That’s why commissioning is becoming a critical part of the design-build process. A commissioning partner works with the owner throughout the design-build process to ensure their goals are achieved.
Controlling dust is a major concern in food manufacturing, whether you’re roasting coffee beans, mixing spices or using flour as a release agent for your baked goods. Whenever there is potential dust in your processing environment, you want to capture it at the source.
Managing dust is critical for a variety of reasons:
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is revolutionizing how food manufacturing facilities operate, from processing to building maintenance and everything in between. Food and beverage companies have access to more data than ever before, and that’s helping them make more informed decisions.
Internet-connected sensors are the “eyes and ears” in a food plant, collecting all the data that makes those insights possible. These devices can measure a variety of inputs from electrical currents to vibrations to air temperature.
Stellar installs sensors in many of the modern facilities we design and construct today, but many owners have the same question: What exactly can I measure?
Let’s look at a few ways sensors can be used in your food plant:
Augmented reality (AR) is a powerful tool on Stellar’s job sites. Today’s AR technology is revolutionizing the way we design and build facilities, making construction projects more efficient and ultimately saving owners time and money.
Stellar leverages augmented reality in three major ways:
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