Food & Beverage Manufacturers have a lot on their plates. Not only must they monitor the usual day to day tasks of running a business and satisfying their employees, but they’re also faced with a multitude of regulations to which they must comply. Oh, and by the way, they must make great food! So, how do you remain competitive and compliant in this ever changing world of compliance and regulations?
The tips below will help get you on the right path for developing and/or enhancing your Food & Beverage Safety Program to maintain compliance and possibly reduce costs and advance production
Regularly conduct maintenance inspections.
Equipment testing and inspections are required by NFPA 86 (Standard for Ovens and Furnaces), as well as ANSI Z50.1 for bakeries and OSHA 1910.263 for bakeries. More than that, though, daily routine walk-around inspections are a tremendous ally. Unless equipment is maintained, it will wear out. If there is a leak, the burners do not know there is a change, so output remains the same. Diminished process operation could be caused by a number of reasons, a daily equipment walk-around is essential to identifying the cause of such fluctuations.
- Does it feel warmer next to the oven than normal? It is not an accident; the oven is losing heat to the room. You could be losing heat through the gradual breakdown of insulation or door seals.
- Are you noticing a fluctuation in flame color? Something has changed, and not for the better. Bright, luminescent flames generally indicate a gas-rich condition while a bright white or wispy blue flame often indicates lean combustion or excess air. And, of course, if you see soot or carbon on the floor, bad things are happening in the combustion process; soot is a solid form of your fuel dollars.
- Are your filters clean? Any filter blockage will result in serious problems. As the system bogs down under a clogged filter, the process may not receive the required input. This puts undue strain on the combustion air blowers over time, which can cause electrical and motor maintenance costs to escalate. Even worse situations can arise from blocked air filters if the burners go fuel rich; wasting fuel, dollars, creating carbon, and the potential for a fire hazard.
Effectively manage your equipment.
Just as you must manage goods within the production process, managing the process in which they’re being produced is just as important. Keeping equipment running as the manufacturers intended is key to reducing nuisance shut downs or production delays. When a burner is properly tuned and running as designed, there is a distinct noise associated with it, so what does a change in that pitch indicate? What does a low drone or high pitched roar indicate? Anytime a burner changes sounds or a valve creaks, it’s never a positive change. Afford concern to your combustion equipment to keep it running smoothly.
Understand your energy consumption.
Are you seeing a spike in fuel consumption within the plant? A best-in-class combustion safety program will positively impact energy consumption. Successful organizations pay attention to these details to better address both identified problems and potential. After all, without data you’re just another person with an opinion. In the age of being preventive vs. reactive, a manufacturer’s best tool for managing energy costs is burner tuning. Eliminating unwarranted excess air can save a fortune. If you’re heating air you don’t need to properly cook your food, you are wasting energy. Typical systems can see up to 7% improvement from proper tuning, which equates to thousands of dollars a year.
Check your pressure
Combustion experts speak in terms of pressures, velocities and flows because these are critical to burner operation. By understanding and knowing burner pressures and flows, changes in performance can be detected early to help troubleshoot any problems. A manometer is an inexpensive device for measuring air pressure. If you do not have one, get one. Have your burner technician show you where to check the pressure inputs on your burner, then check them monthly. If a pressure change is noticed, alert the technician to get the burner back in tune.
Manage control of safety inventory/stock
What are the components on your equipment, burners and gas trains that will shut down production if they were to fail? Paying attention to critical spares part numbers, switch orientation (normally open vs. normally closed), valve types, etc. is crucial to success in a preventive world. And with technology available today, documenting via photographs from a phone or digital camera is one of the best ways to ensure your database is accurate so spares are ordered correctly every time. Maintaining this information and ordering spares in advance to sustain an on-site inventory can mean the difference between multiple days of downtown or just a mere hour, especially for older equipment where the lead time on parts can turn into weeks. If an emergency situation were to arise, could you afford to be down for an extended period of time? Prepare by being proactive, the reactive approach will always leave you biting off more than you can chew.
Commit to educating yourself and staff
The future of the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program will be focusing on additional areas to include subject matter training. And more than that, NFPA 86 requires training and/or refresher training for those that operate, maintenance, or supervise combustion equipment on an annual basis. A number of good combustion schools are offered by burner equipment manufacturers and trade organizations to help educate you and your staff on proper burner operation. Most are one to three days in duration and cover principles of combustion and application issues, they are worth the time to invest.
Maintain documentation and recordkeeping
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is focusing their sights on documentation in a big way. Be prepared for unannounced audits by documenting all maintenance checks, tests, repairs, etc. The overarching mantra is “if it isn’t documented, you didn’t do it,” so don’t be caught without the correspondence to prove your work. There should be standard operating procedures to include logs documenting tests, service, equipment adjustments and more that contain dates & times and are signed off on. Training programs must also be documented to include course curriculum, instructors, dates & times and attendees. If there isn’t paperwork to prove it occurred, it didn’t happen. Don’t let a good program go to waste because the documentation isn’t present to support it. This is crucial in the world of risk prevention.
Maintain corporate standards globally
For organizations with multiple sites worldwide, a strict corporate-wide compliance program is imperative for success. Developing countries do not have the same strict regulations as the United States, so organizations can get away with more abroad, but GFSI is looking to take a global approach to companies’ food safety programs. This will include all above mentioned tactics from routine maintenance, to critical spares programs (especially overseas when the lead time can increase dramatically), personnel training programs and documentation of all. A web-based corporate database would be ideal for such situations to be able to prove domestic and foreign compliance in one records archive.
In an era of rising commodity and energy costs, and stricter regulations, it is essential to optimize internal processes. Best-in-class organizations have realized the benefits of a strategy that enables them to uncover where inefficient processes exist. By implementing safety programs to address these issues, effective, accurate, and actionable insights are gained into production processes to allow for maximized margins, increased competitive advantage, and most importantly, improved safety!
Honeywell Combustion Safety has been in business since 1984. With engineers and staff members that sit on Code committees such as NFPA 56, NFPA 85, NFPA 86, and NFPA 87, our inside expertise is integrated within all of our practices and our global reach ensures that customers around the world are kept safe. Honeywell Combustion Safety offers Testing and Inspections, Engineering & Upgrades/Retrofits, Gas Hazards Management, Training, and Field Services for all industrial facilities and different types of fuel fired equipment. Contact Honeywell Combustion Safety at +1 216.749.2992 or visit www.combustionsafety.com for additional information.