Tips to Build a Sustainable Food Processing Plant

Sustainability is one of the leading trends in the global manufacturing industry and honestly speaking, most of the food and beverage manufacturers are not averse to this. However, building a sustainable food processing unit can be extremely difficult. Most of the energy efficient solutions come with high upfront investments that can be extremely difficult to justify. However, it is important to note that there are many eco-friendly initiatives that can lead to excellent return of investment. In this brief discussion, we take a look at certain investments that are not only good for the planet, but also for your business.

Insulation of Building Envelope: Proper insulation is extremely important because many facilities end up losing a lot of heat through their ceilings and walls. Long-term energy expenses can be reduced a great deal by using materials capable of absorbing the heat, instead of releasing it.  Mentioned below are some building envelope insulations that can offer a good ROI.

  • Precast concrete insulated panels: These panels can absorb and store heat just like a sponge can absorb and retain water. This is the best and most expensive insulation option as they are constructed at an off-site location under controlled environment.
  • Tilt-up insulated panels: They offer almost similar thermal benefits compared to precast panels, but are built on the site. As a result, tilt-up panels are more susceptible to weather conditions and construction errors.
  • Insulated metal panels: The functional pattern of these panels is the same as concrete panels, but they have a foam insulation sandwiched between two metal surfaces. Though less expensive, their durability is much less compared to concrete panels. These panels also require additional support in the form of  steel columns and framing.

Use of Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs): Out of the total operating expenses of a food processing unit, as much as 60% can be attributed to refrigeration costs. Unfortunately, at times, refrigeration systems unnecessarily function at their full capacity. Installation of variable frequency drives can ensure that the system never functions more than the necessity. By sensing the pressure, temperature, or flow, VFDs can ramps down the appropriate motor or pump under a specific condition. As soon as the condition goes beyond the given threshold, the VFD ramps back the motor or pump.

VFD installation may not be the right solution for many units because they are extremely expensive. Moreover, they cannot be used for a system that must always run at full capacity.

LED Lighting for the Processing Areas: The debate concerning the use of LED lights comes down to the cost factor in most instances. The key to optimising the lighting efficiency of your plant is all about figuring out where you should use LED lights. Use of LED lighting is the perfect solution for both processing as well as packaging areas because of the following reasons.

  • Longer life: Most of the modern-day LED lighting fixtures can last for up to ten years. This means a significant reduction in downtime associated with lighting replacement in your processing area.
  • Low energy usage: Compared to most other lighting options, LED lights consume approximately seventy-five percent less energy. Therefore, they can contribute towards your long-term savings in packaging and processing areas where continuous lighting is a necessity.
  • Withstands cold climate: Maintaining a cold environment is a necessity for most of the food processing operations. It has been observed that the performance of LED lights is significantly better in these conditions, compared to fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lighting, however, can be a viable alternative for the less critical areas of the plant. In order to reduce the wastage of energy, it is a great idea to install occupancy sensors that are capable of switching off the lights when there is no one in the room.

Water Conservation: A massive amount of water is used in most of the food processing plants. Therefore, it is extremely important to work out a conservation plan. Mentioned below are three simple tips you may consider.

  • Reuse: Different food products are often cooled down or heated up using water without any direct contact between the two. This water can be retained by the plants for external satiation purposes.
  • Catchment system: Instead of allowing the rainwater to drain away, create a catchment system for the storage of this water. Later on, this water can be used for fire sprinklers and irrigation.
  • Installation of flow meters: By installing a flow meter, you can ensure that the minimum quantity of water is consumed by your process equipment. Based on equipment function, these devices can regulate either total volume or flow rate.

BAS controller: The performance efficiency of the systems in your plant is indicated by certain built-in data collection controls. It can sometimes be difficult to monitor several unconnected systems such as air conditioning, refrigeration, electrical, etc. Installation of a building automation system or BAS controller is a great solution to this problem because it includes all existing systems into one comprehensive network. Some of the benefits of these systems include energy savings, scheduled use of energy, and efficient facility management.

These were just a few simple tips to turn your plant into a sustainable food processing unit. We, at Lumix, are dedicated to providing the best solutions for your food and meat processing industry. Please contact us today to find out more ways to become more profitable and productive.