You have a recipe that you want to turn into a business. In some ways, working with a consultant for food processing industry members is like working with consultants for any other industry. A food processing plant design requires the same industrial and mechanical engineering considerations as any other plant design, even those manufacturing socks or batteries.
In other ways, food processing plant design consultants have some very unique design considerations. Here are some of the top considerations for designing food processing plants:
If you think back to your high school science class, you might remember a discussion about the differences between accuracy and precision. Accuracy is a measure of how closely a measurement matches the true value. For example, if your recipe calls for 20 kilograms of flour, a process that adds 20.0 kilograms ± 0.1 kilograms is more accurate than a process that adds 20.0 kilograms ± 0.7 kilograms.
Of course, inaccuracy can have grave effects on the quality of your product and, consequently, your bottom line. If an inaccuracy causes an inconsistent product, you might be faced with a difficult choice: either pull those products from your line or release substandard products. Ensuring accuracy, on the other hand, can reduce waste and cement your business’s reputation for maintaining quality standards
Precision refers to the repeatability of a process. A precise process can produce consistent results, time after time. Thus, a process that always produces a temperature of 37 degrees is precise.
However, where precision differs from accuracy is that a precise process isn’t always desirable. For example, that process which always produces a temperature of 37 degrees is inaccurate if the desired temperature is 42 degrees. This means that the results, while consistent, may not be of the desired quality. Thus, to produce a consistently high-quality product, the process must be both accurate and precise.
While working as a consultant for food processing industry members, one of an engineering group’s highest priorities is safety. The consequences of deficient food safety policies can be dire, including illness or even loss of life due to unsafe food.
Food safety covers many aspects of a food processing plant, including:
- Prevention of contamination due to microbes which cause foodborne illnesses
- Prevention of contamination by chemicals or other toxic contaminants
- Selection of packaging and machinery to safely handle the products
- Operating the machinery to safely process the food products, including sufficient cooking time and temperature for cooked foods
- Providing a safe environment for plant workers
For example, the use of polished concrete flooring has become a popular alternative to marble, tile, and linoleum for commercial facilities since it is easily cleaned.
A reliable process is a process that is robust and remains operational between scheduled maintenance outages. An unreliable process has multiple failure points or points where quality can be compromised. In either case, the process must be shut down to remedy the problem. This costs time and money.
A robust and reliable process, on the other hand, is designed to either minimize these points of failure. For example, sensors and inspection points built into the process can allow real-time quality control and adjustment if the process does not fall within the acceptable tolerances.
Capacity does not necessarily mean producing as much as possible. Capacity is the ability to make exactly the amount needed, taking into account breakage and waste, in exactly the amount of time allocated. Thus, for a company that ships 4,000 bags of potato chips every day, a process that can only produce 2,000 bags of chips per day lacks sufficient capacity. On the other hand, a process that produces 7,000 bags of chips per day is wasteful, both in producing unsold inventory and in operating a process with excess capacity.
Ideally, a consultant for food processing industry plants can design a process with a scalable capacity so that the process can accommodate varying capacity levels without a complete re-design.
Engineering firms that act as a consultant for food processing industry members work with you to design processes that are accurate, precise, reliable, and safe at your desired capacity. When you want to transform your industry’s layout, rely on The Project Group Consulting for more information.