Year-round Food Safety

Electrical design considerations to boost productivity and preserve safety across Food & Beverage processing

September is National Food Safety Education Month, highlighting important information, resources and tools to encourage Americans to take an active role in preventing foodborne illnesses.

For the nearly 37,000 food and beverage processors across the nation, food safety is always a top priority. Over decades in the Food & Beverage industry, the ABB Installation Products team has found many food recalls and outages are preventable. Whether prompted by a recall or threat, identified through a site assessment, or integrated into proactive planning, there are six key areas we consistently find food and beverage partners need to assess or address.

1. Productivity

Many food and beverage facilities are moving to 24/7 operations and focusing on efficiency, productivity and sustainability goals. In this era of continuous operations, uptime and on-time delivery, F&B processors also need to adapt production to supply changes and demand surges.

Every touchpoint across food and beverage production is held to high standards of safety, from personnel and practices to preparation and packaging. Downtime in F&B costs thousands of dollars per line per hour and can result in significant food waste. Overlaying the entire operations are production schedules that factor in added or extended shifts, maintenance, and cleaning and sanitation – assuring minimal downtime.

It’s essential that a production facility’s plans address issues like corrosion, liquid ingress, condensation, washdown, temperature transitions, and SKU reduction and standardization, while incorporating antimicrobial and hygienic designs across key segments and applications. Using proper cable protection, compatible components that help safeguard against leaks and contaminants, and flexible conduit to adjust as needs change are ways food and beverage processors can keep operations running smoothly and safely.

2. Environment

In a food and beverage production environment, lack of space can cause safety issues. Limited space for wiring, air flow, and access to clean and maintain equipment can be hazardous. As advances in automation, hardware technology and control capabilities are integrated into the production environment, flexible designs are needed to allow for reconfigurations within a certain area or existing facility footprint. It’s common for an F&B manufacturer to frequently modify equipment or change a process – sometimes every few months.

3. Cleanability

Improving the degree of food safety in a facility can be achieved with proper material selection, ratings and design features that make equipment and components easier to clean, while eliminating places for bacteria, contaminates and food debris to hide. A challenge food and beverage processors face is properly cleaning and sanitizing behind, between and underneath all equipment and components in processing areas.

Materials matter and can influence speed and ease of cleaning, performance, and lifespan of electrical installations. Consider products that are extensively tested and meet industry standards such as solutions with hygienic properties, offset ability, liquid ingress protection, and that offer chemical and corrosion resistance.

4. Detectability

In food and beverage processing, detection is prevention. From raw ingredients to ready cut items, all F&B manufacturers must have at least one type of detection equipment such as metal or x-ray technology. Many producers use a combination of detection methods.

Recognizing that just because something is detectable, doesn’t mean it’s easily detected was a catalyst for innovation at ABB. To improve visual and metal detectability, ABB introduced detectable Ty-Rap® cable ties in 2006. Continued innovation has resulted in Ty-Rap heat-reactive cable ties that change color to warn of potentially dangerous high temperatures in equipment and distinctive, blue-colored ties that have buoyancy for easy visual detection in batters and liquids.

5. Sustainability

Empowered with knowledge and influence, consumers are insisting on sustainability and transparency across the food production process. The clear shift from focusing on upfront expense to consideration of equipment replacement costs and avoidance of waste is also leading more producers to move to long-term, sustainable solutions.

6. Harmonization

Today, innovation and higher standards of safety and sustainability are an element in every aspect of food and beverage production, helping to avoid potential contamination risk. However, the accelerated pace to incorporate technology across everything from tools to transportation has led some manufacturers to put in place short-term solutions or fragmented systems. Ensuring all electrical elements, from conduit and cable to fittings and fasteners, work in concert to enable the highest levels of safety and productivity is one way ABB is helping protect this industry.

In the food and beverage production facilities we serve, we assess capacity and cleanability of existing operations and electrical systems to help implement standards built around food safety, people safety and reduction of unscheduled downtime.

From National Milk Day in January to National Cookie Day in December, learn how ABB Installation Products is helping food and beverage processors boost productivity and operate safely year-round.

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About the author

Craig Yoss

Craig Yoss is a Sr. Product Manager for the Installation Products division in Memphis, Tennessee. He has over 30 years’ experience in the electrical industry holding roles in Marketing, Product Management, and Sales Management. Craig and the team of Premier Product Managers continue to work to develop innovative products to address critical needs experienced within vital market segments.
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