As you know, finding the best ways to conduct business and achieve success in the food and beverage manufacturing industry can be very complicated. But our industry is doing its best to achieve clarity on its most complex issues.

For example, last month I had the opportunity to moderate a webinar on “Hygienic Equipment Design for Low-moisture Food Manufacturing,” jointly produced by Food Engineering, PMMI and AIOE (Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence). Because of the compelling topic and expert processor and solution provider presenters, we attained the highest webinar attendee rate in our publication’s history.

In this month’s edition of Food Engineering, we are focusing on solutions to many other complex challenges faced by food and beverage processors in new plant design/expansion projects, as well as those identified at the Food Automation & Manufacturing (FA&M) conference in April.

Concerning plant design, below is a sampling of the trends identified in our 18-page Plant Construction Survey article in this issue:

  • Safety, health and environmental concerns in plant design are being driven by product integrity, traceability and accountability.
  • Isolated hygienic zones within plants are a major focus. Likewise, zones with filtered air and a positive airflow keep bacteria out of hygienic spaces.
  • Design and construction of process spaces and sanitation requirements are becoming increasingly strict. Designing to meet GFSI and FSMA guidelines is commonplace.
  • Food and beverage companies in attendance at the FA&M conference concluded that successful manufacturing operations stand out due to an integration of solutions in continuous improvement and food safety. You can read the full conference report in this issue, but here are some highlights:
  • Choosing a definition of OEE and then applying it consistently is mandatory.
  • FSMA compliance includes complex supply chains, changing consumer demands, emerging threats, improving epidemiology, growing media influence, litigation, new standards and inconsistent standards.
  • Retirement by baby boomers has placed a premium on finding talent.

The overriding theme here, of course, is food safety. Accordingly, our expanded coverage this month also includes articles on food safety management systems and chemical purchasing, handling and storage programs.  I hope this food-safety focused issue will assist you in attaining some clarity on current industry challenges.