What are five key considerations for food and beverage manufacturers when it comes to hygienic plant design?
"Food safety is the single greatest ongoing challenge for manufacturers, and we need to evolve to meet the ever-increasing demands." said Andrew Newby at Brisbane-based company Wiley.
1. Process Flows
Consider the flow of processes through your site, whether you are building a new facility or improving a new facility. Document your processes with a Process Flow Diagram (PFD). And don't forget about the WHOLE process, from deliveries through to pick up and installations. Sometimes a pain point can be easily overlooked, but easily corrected and improved - such as speeding up or automating your warehouse doors so that they open quickly when a forklift / truck approaches.
Minutes spent waiting for doors to open is wasted time which could be spent elsewhere, more importantly, if you are working with frozen or fresh food, the least amount of time that it spends out on the open in front of a forklift or waiting to be loaded onto a vehicle, creates pockets where hygiene is hampered.
2. People Flows
Staff are one of your most important assets onsite, therefore it is critical to think about how your people flow through the site, where do they need to be at certain times of the day, where should they NOT be. Consider the positioning of corridors, doors, rooms, lunch area, hygiene facilities, toilet facilities etc. Particularly, how they move around the production of food produce.
If you have visitors onsite, one of the most common ways to improve visitor traffic is to include the use of viewing platforms rather than allowing visitors to walk along the food production line during operating hours, or yet, become a hinderance for the staff on duty while they potentially work in enclosed spaces or accessing corridors where staff move from amentities to work. If you do take customers or visitors through your site, remember that how you approach hygiene in these areas will reflect how serious you and your staff take hygiene.
Consider segregating or dividing areas with the use of Rapid Roller Doors so that large pallets and machinery (as well as staff) can get into areas easily but when the space is not in use, can be closed off to prevent drafts, pests, odours and splash-back from cleaning processes.
Also important to consider fire escapes and travel distances are maintained or better still, improved.
3. Waste Flows
An all-essential part of food production, waste management. Ensure that you have considered waste management, that it complies with all food regulations and that it can handle, store and dispose of necessary food scraps.
Pest control is vital with waste management as facilities quite often do not have appropriate vermin-proof or temperature-controlled storage. Low cost items such as PVC Stripdoors or Air Curtains can help with pest control as well as Movidor BugStop Rapid Door which is made up of a mesh curtain to allow the flow of air but prevent leaves, flies and other birds from entering the area. Again, dividing areas which contain odours from other food processing areas can help to prevent attracting flies and vermin. Read our blog on 7 Must-Haves for your Pest Control Prodedures here.
4. Utensil Flows
With all food processing facilities, come processes which involve the use of utensils. Either for transferring products or used the processing of the food itself. If you have a pre-existing facility, the changes are that the utensils have developed and changed over time, but your storage areas for the utensils may not have changed. Consider what you need to store all the utensils in a hygienic manner, and the efficiency of how the staff access the equipment that they need.
5. Construction Standards
The design and construction of products and materials have developed over time, even basic items may have been through a improvement process. For example, at Remax - we may very well revise and products annually to see if a system can be improved or a part can be replaced with something better. This is especially important for products which are used in the food industry where products can evolve to become less cumbersome, less chance of containing dust, better at preventing pests, more resistant to harsh wash down processes etc. Ask your supplier about upgrades to older equipment, it may very well save you on ongoing maintenance costs as well as prevent bacterial issues.
When you are making enquiries about new or upgraded equipment, make sure that you let suppliers know about your strict hygiene requirements, they may very well suggest an alternative which works better in the long run.
This is the very reason why we tested our Movidors with a pressure washer to ensure that they can handle the harsh wash-down process often required by food processing facilities. Watch the wash-down video here.