Foodex is just around the corner and preparations are well underway for our stand at the NEC, Birmingham from 30th March to 1st April. This year, we have a 7 x 7m stand (J201 in Hall 20) and will be exhibiting a range of our audit compliant services, including air filtration, dust extraction, system hygiene services and fabric ducting systems.
We understand that the regulations around maintaining good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in a food production environment can be confusing. And, of course, every site is different. We’re here to help. From ductwork cleaning issues to enquiries about installing air socks in your food production area – our air handling and dust extraction specialists will be on hand at Foodex to answer all your questions.
If you are responsible for quality, hygiene and food safety in your food production facility, you’ll no doubt also have questions about how your site can comply with the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8. If your factory handles powdered ingredients, you will be interested in coming along to Foodex to find out how you can meet CoSHH Workplace Exposure Limits (WELs) to keep the air your employees breathe clean and the ATEX regulations to keep your site safe. Alongside all of this, you’ll want to understand how we can work with you to not only keep your air clean, but to guarantee audit compliance and meet your cost reduction targets – all with minimum disruption to your manufacturing process.
Come to Foodex and find out how we can design a solution to help you gain control, once and for all, over your air handling systems. Furthermore, our holistic approach means that we have all bases covered for your complete peace of mind. We’ll help you overcome your challenges and put in place the most cost-effective solution that is tailored to your site’s individual needs.
“Our vision is a future where indoor air at food production sites no longer compromises food safety. We believe in a holistic approach that upholds audit-compliant standards at all times. We invite you to be part of the transformation.”
Mark Stevens, Managing Director, HVDS
Foodex is the UK’s premier trade event for the food and drink industry and is aimed at manufacturing professionals in the processing, packaging and logistics industries. Register to visit Foodex 2020 here (it’s free). Come and see us on stand J201 in Hall 20. Follow us on LinkedIn to keep up to date with all the latest information on IAQ for food manufacturers. For more information about Foodex, click here.
In food production sites, environmental air must be of a specified quality in terms of temperature, particle concentration and humidity. Additional controls are required for the manufacture of certain products and for high care production areas, in order to reduce the risk of contamination. Controlling the properties of indoor air can help to reduce the quantity and growth rate of micro-organisms in manufacturing areas and can reduce other particle content for maximum food safety. Airborne contaminants are removed by air filtration in the form of Air Handling Units (AHUs), and for the reasons outlined above, AHUs for the food industry differ from those for other applications, such as in residential or commercial environments. This article looks at the key design features of an AHU and ductwork for food production areas.
The food industry has a complex set of requirements for air management spanning food production, preparation and storage. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can optimise elements of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), such as temperature, humidity, odour and air distribution. Good IAQ has a major impact on product contamination, product shelf life and employee health.
“Properly designed air handling systems control airborne particulates and odours and minimise the risks to products from airborne contamination by infectious pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli) and toxigenic pathogens (e.g. Staphylococcus aureus and clostridia) and spoilage micro-organisms (e.g. yeast, moulds, pseudomonads and lactic acid bacteria).”
Trends in Food Science & Technology 17 (2006)
Guidelines on air handling in the food industry
The design and maintenance of any AHU for use on a food production site, should be determined by the risks to product safety identified in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) risk assessment and by the risks to product quality identified by the site’s quality control system.
Each area of a food production site will have different risks and, therefore, different needs with regard to air handling. Conducting a specific risk assessment to determine these risks and filtration requirements is recommended. This risk assessment template should be based on the BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8 guidelines. Contact HVDS for a ‘Risk Assessment for Positive Airflow’ template.
An AHU should be designed to accommodate the varying conditions of the following operational states:
Normal Production State
An AHU will distribute filtered air, with controlled humidity and temperature, into the production area at the required rate and will recirculate it at typically 85% recirculation through the system.
When no production is taking place, a specified overpressure or temperature is maintained by inputting filtered or fully conditioned air into the production area. The AHU will allow air to be recirculated at a very low rate, depending on a number factors (e.g. the heat load or loss from the system) to ensure a positive pressure is maintained.
During factory cleaning, it is necessary to input filtered fresh air into the production area via the ducting. This serves to a) maintain the overpressure, b) protect the filters from moisture damage, c) extract moisture in the air directly to exhaust (without recirculation).
AHUs for food production must be maintained with minimum production downtime and in such a way as to prevent production area contamination. Certain design features, for example duplication of some equipment or ducts, allow for efficient servicing.
Food production areas can be categorised according to risk. This risk ranges from low risk (ambient-stable, packaged foods) to high risk (chilled, fresh and ready-to-eat foods). The level of risk will determine the level of air filtration needed and this, in turn, will determine the design of the AHU, for example with regard to doors and inlet/outlet hatches.
The air system should slow or prevent the growth and ingress of micro-organisms and filter out the particles that carry them. Hygienic design of the AHU will also prevent the system itself becoming a source of contamination.
The air handling system plays a role in controlling contamination risk in medium and high care areas for certain processes and products, such as salads or sandwiches. And in a high risk production area, for example, in the manufacture of cooked meats, the air handling system plays a critical role in controlling microbiological risks. Filter grade selection is a vital part of ensuring the correct level of filtration in each type of production area. The following table outlines the recommendations for food industry filter application grades in low care, high care and high risk areas.
Pre-filter grade captures heavy or coarse particles, whereas final filter grade captures sub-micron particulate.
Note: The food industry should avoid at all cost using glass fibre bag filters due to their fibre release and carcinogenic characteristics.
A step up from high risk areas is aseptic processing where foods are packaged in sterile conditions to produce products that do not need refrigeration. Before production starts, the air handling system must be capable of being thoroughly decontaminated. The manufacturer of the aseptic system will usually specify what volume of sterile air must be maintained by the air handling system for a sufficient overpressure and air outflow. The air handling system will also have to accommodate the particular operating conditions of the aseptic room, such as draught etc.
Low humidity in certain production areas can cause food product water loss. Where maintaining humidity is a factor for food quality, there are ways of humidifying the air, such as with an atomising humidifier or a steam injection humidifier, which distributes steam directly into the airstream.
High humidity is linked to microbial growth and can cause dry food products to absorb moisture. Removing moisture from the air is therefore essential. A good practice is to cool the air by passing it through a cooling coil in the air handling system. This serves to cool the air and the condensed water from the air will then be drained away. The air is then heated back to operating temperature.
Dust, condensate, extracted product and bacteria can build up in the AHU and ductwork of an air handling system. It is therefore essential to have a regular sanitisation schedule in place.
To ensure maximum system hygiene and to avoid the various parts of the system themselves becoming a source of contamination, an air handling system for the food industry must be manufactured with hygienic components and designed to facilitate visual inspection and regular deep cleaning. For example, there should be doors and hatches at regular intervals along the ducting to facilitate both inspection and cleaning. Ease of cleaning will also significantly reduce any production downtime.
The type and frequency of a cleaning schedule will be determined by a number of factors, including the standard of hygiene required in any specific production area, the contaminant burden in the fresh and recycled air, air velocity etc.
It was a long day and we got up very early to attend (4am!) but Food Safety Europe 2020 was as useful, relevant and informative and as we had hoped.
If you have any sort of responsibility for food safety in your organisation, you might want to consider attending this event next year. It’s a one-day conference held at around this time of year (February), which brings together food safety professionals to exchange ideas, pick each others’ brains and network.
The day comprised of presentations and panel discussions about various food safety and hygiene-related topics. These sessions were interspersed with networking coffee breaks where delegates mingled and browsed the various exhibition stands showcasing the products and services of the event sponsors.
This year saw a good mix of organisations exhibiting, including the event organiser – BRCGS, Bayer, Lloyd’s Register, SpaceVac, Klipspringer, Activate Lubricants and Campden BRI, to name but a few… and of course, ourselves.
As a Silver Sponsor of the event, we also gave one if the presentations, which was about the importance of taking a holistic approach to managed indoor air quality, and was delivered by our Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell.
This year’s Food Safety Europe was a ‘completely paperless’ event, meaning that all information about the conference (programme, speaker information, feedback surveys etc.) was on the AttendeeHub app. As part of our presentation, we conducted a quick poll among the audience via the app. The question we asked was:
Approximately how many people in the world fall ill every year after eating contaminated food?
- 6 million
- 60 million
- 600 million
- 6 billion
Do you know the answer? (Answer at the bottom of this post)
Among other talks was a presentation by Lloyd’s Register about remote auditing, an update by the Food Standards Agency and a talk by McDonalds about managing food safety risk in the face of changing diets. All talks allowed for a 5-minute question and answer session afterwards, and questions could be asked in person or via the app.
The conference was held this year on Wednesday 12th February at County Hall in London. We were this close to the London Eye!
And a word about the food at the event – delicious! We couldn’t wait for the next networking break to find out what was coming next.
As well as gathering a lot of useful information, we made some good connections too and caught up with a few existing contacts. A successful day all round and we look forward to the next one.
The answer to the poll question above is: 600 million
For more information about HVDS’ air filtration and ventilation products and service for the food industry, please contact us on 01785 256976 or get in touch here.
Thank you to all who completed the HVDS Annual Survey about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Your responses help us to understand even better the market for air filtration and ventilation in the food industry. Here are the Annual Survey 2019 results.
Number of AHUs
Almost three quarters of respondents have between 1 and 20 Air Handling Units (AHUs) on site. 17% have between 20 and 50 and 11% have more than 50.
In-house v. Third Party Filter Changes
An overwhelming 86% of sites use a third party to change their filters, instead of using their own engineers, and these are changed to a set schedule, rather than by pressure drop readings.
New Developments/Changes for 2020
In order of importance, the changes to be made by sites over the coming year are using a third party filtration service, investing in dust extraction equipment, testing and monitoring Indoor Air Quality and mapping airflow. Next on the list comes implementing a ductwork cleaning schedule, followed by reviewing air filter change frequency and carrying out repairs to the air handling system. None of the respondents listed intending to invest in additional AHUs or investing in in-house engineer training as something they wanted to implement in 2020.
IAQ Priorities for 2020
Top of the list for priorities for 2020 comes employee health and safety issues when it comes to Indoor Air Quality. Next in line comes meeting BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8, meeting cost reduction targets and causing minimal disruption to the production process, which carry an equal weighting. After that comes meeting customer audit requirements and a few respondents want to address specific issues on site.
The overwhelming majority of respondents have to comply with SafeContractor – with Human Focus, Food Hygiene Certification and other company specific compliance requirements coming in second.
We hope you found the Annual Survey 2019 results of interest. If you would like any information about any of our services, please contact us here or get in touch on 01785 256976.
This week we filmed our new corporate video on location at customer premises. We captured footage of our engineers doing what they do best, such as testing LEVs, changing air filters, conducting surveys, cleaning ductwork, maintaining air socks, monitoring workplace air and inspecting air handling units.
The video was shot at a UK food factory and the day’s filming involved engineers from the HVDS Hygiene Team, air filtration team and dust extraction team and was also attended by HVDS Marketing Manager, Rachel Robb. Rachel says,
“We wanted to create a video that accurately showcases our services so that prospective customers would know what to expect from HVDS. We think this video will get under the skin of what we do by showing the engineers in action on site.”
The filming was carried out by film and video production company, Lilac Films with Steve Cranston behind the camera. Steve has produced professional corporate videos over the years for local and national organisations. http://lilac-films.com/
Once edited, the new corporate video will feature on the HVDS website www.hvds.co.uk and will also be played with subtitles on the HVDS stand (J201 in Hall 20) at Foodex 2020 at the NEC in Birmingham from 30th March to 1st April this year. Rachel says,
“We’re really looking forward to seeing the finished product. Lilac Films are great to work with and we’re very impressed with the work Steve has done so far.”
As well as capturing the corporate video footage, Steve also took some stills during the day showing various aspects of the engineers’ work and the equipment they were working on, such as dust extraction units and air handling units both in the factory roof void and externally.
For more information about HVDS services, please contact us here, or to find out more about what our engineers could do for your business, please contact our team on 01785 256976.
You could be forgiven for thinking that your ductwork is as clean as a whistle. After all, it looks it from the outside, doesn’t it? But HVDS engineers, who have helped customers the length and breadth of the country, know that external appearance can be deceptive. Our Hygiene Team have removed a variety of substances from air handling system ductwork as part of their cleaning and maintenance service, thus improving the efficiency of the system, reducing the energy usage of the production area and optimising food safety and the health and safety of employees.
It obviously depends on what you are producing as to what lurks inside your ductwork. A recent visit to a baked goods factory revealed a build-up of mould and bacteria inside their fabric ducting. HVDS engineers removed the air socks and rather than launder them, the socks were condemned, and replacement socks were installed in the relevant production areas. The engineers also removed any debris and sanitised all other relevant parts of the Air Handling Unit to ensure maximum hygiene. All this was achieved for the factory just ahead of a major audit. Read the case study here.
At a morning food manufacturing site, a steel duct had burst under the pressure of a build-up of dust inside it. HVDS Technical Engineers arrived on site within 24 hours. When we investigated further, we found that the ductwork across the whole system was clogged with dust from production, resulting in a serious reduction in machine efficiency. Our engineers stripped down the machinery and carried out a massive clean-up exercise. It is worth noting that dust from the ductwork explosion had been dispersed across four floors of the production facility, causing a major food safety and cross-contamination hazard. Some food dusts are flammable under certain circumstances, and a resulting fire could have much worse consequences. Read the case study here.
Grease in flue extract systems can be a problem if not cleaned regularly. The photo below shows build-up in the ductwork at one UK food manufacturing site. In places the extracted product reached a depth of 3 inches or more. The grease & carbon was removed using scrapers, brushes and vacuums. In total, around 10 gallons of fluid grease and foreign matter was removed from the ductwork and extraction flue system over a period of 5 days. Read the case study here.
Our BESA qualified engineers work in accordance with industry standards, using cutting edge techniques, such as mechanical cleaning, rotary brushing, compressed air jetting and traditional hand cleaning. Internal ductwork inspections can be carried out via camera probe.
For more information about our HVAC and LEV hygiene and maintenance service, take a look here or download our brochure here. To contact us for advice or to book your visit from our Hygiene Team, please get in touch here.
2019 was a very busy and successful year for HVDS and 2020 will see us building on that growth. Here is what is in store for the company this year.
New Members of Staff
We welcome Christian Taylor, who joins our dust extraction team as Projects and Contracts Engineering Manager. Christian will be helping customers with new dust extraction system installations. For a new installation quote for your site, get in touch with Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org
As manufacturing sites continue to prioritise regular ductwork and flue extraction cleaning, we will continue to recruit engineers to our Hygiene Team. The team performs deep cleans of systems all over the UK to keep them energy efficient and audit compliant. To book your deep clean, contact us here or to enquire about a cleaning engineer role at HVDS, check our careers page here.
Our Food Industry Air Filtration and Ventilation Consultant, Tony Carvell, will be speaking at Food Safety Europe 2020 in London on 12th February. The BRCGS event, which takes place at County Hall, is a firm favourite with HVDS, as it brings together food industry professionals to discuss various aspects of food safety. It is an opportunity to share knowledge and learn from industry experts. Tony’s talk is about why it is important to take a holistic view of Indoor Air Quality. To book your place at Food Safety Europe 2020 or to find out more, click here.
We will also be exhibiting at Foodex 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham, from 30th March to 1st April. This will be the fourth time we have taken part in this show, and this year’s stand is the biggest and best for HVDS yet, showcasing all areas of our business including air filtration, fabric ducting, ductwork cleaning and dust, fume, mist, spray and oil extraction. Come along and see us on stand J201 in Hall 20.
After the success of our eFUSION™ app in 2019, which gives you 24/7 access to your air handling and air hygiene reports, we are proud to announce the MAXAIR™ app for our customers benefiting from our dust control service. The app will keep all your reports in place for easy access and audit purposes. More information to follow.
New for 2020 is our risk assessment template. In checklist format, this template guides you through everything you need to consider in order to comply with BRCGS Food safety Issue 8. It also highlights the level of risk where no action is taken. If you would like a copy of our risk assessment template, or would be interested in a full risk assessment by our trained engineers, please get in touch.
At HVDS, we recognise the value to our customers of providing useful information to help them maintain good Indoor Air Quality. For this reason, we are putting together a suite of resources that can be downloaded from our website for free. These include, for example, data sheets for each of our products, our HACCP Plan Template, our service brochures and checklists, such as this one about how to prolong the life and get the most out of your fabric ducting.
In 2020, we will continue to build on these resources. If there is anything you would find particularly useful, please drop us a line to let us know and we will do our best to provide it.
We will continue to listen to our customers to ensure we are giving them what they need and want. To help us with this, at the end on 2019, we conducted our Annual Survey. This highlighted the challenges our customers are facing and their priorities for the coming year. The results of this survey will be out later this month. Watch this space!
On behalf of the team at HVDS, we wish you all a happy and successful 2020!
Our food production customers enjoy the many benefits of fabric ducting. Fabric ducting, or air socks are:
- Fast to install due to their lightweight design,
- More efficient, having the ability to increase the primary air flow-rate by almost 50 times that of standard air ducting, and
- Flexible, so their layout can be tailored to accommodate specific site requirements.
And they are suitable for all types of food processing areas, from raw ingredient handling areas to packaging. But what about hygiene? How do you keep fabric ducting clean?
Like any other ducting, air socks are prone to mould and bacterial growth. The air distribution holes in fabric ducting enable highly effective air distribution. This actually helps prevent moisture stagnation that would usually result in condensation, and potentially mould, in the ducting. However, some food production plants are more prone to mould than others, and there are certain times when the risk of mould forming is greater. One of these times is during machinery clean-down where hot water sprays are used. Heat and moisture create humidity and a higher risk of mould spores forming internally and externally on the fabric ducting.
Note: A tip is to leave the Air Handling Systems (AHUs) on during factory clean downs. This will ensure that dry and cool air continues to flow through the air sock, helping to prevent mould growth.
Mould and microorganisms growing in the system will lead to a reduction in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Controlling the level of mould is especially important in a food manufacturing facility. It has the potential to carry disease and infection, which are easily transferred if they come into contact with food products. Ductwork carries air directly to workers’ breathing zones and production areas where it can affect food. Indeed, a range of adverse health affects have been reported following consumption of mouldy foods. These include nervous system impairment and liver damage. It is, therefore, essential to keep ductwork as clean and mould-free as possible. For more information about mould, click here.
In order to keep fabric ducting clean and hygienic, we recommend that it is professionally cleaned every 6 months to a year. Another benefit of fabric ducting is that it can be cleaned without altering its characteristics or performance over time. The HVDS Hygiene Team will remove, wash and sanitise your air socks and then replace them in their original positions. Our laundering service provides a deep clean to help reduce further growth of mould. We provide many of our customers with a spare set of like-for-like bespoke air socks to replace the dirty ones during cleaning.
Interested in fabric ducting for your production plant? Following a survey of your site, HVDS will supply and install air socks tailored exactly to your requirements. For example, if you need airflow holes to distribute air to one section, but not to another within the same production area, we can supply air socks to this specification. In fact, there is virtually no limit to what we can provide.
For more information about fabric ducting, click here. To discuss fabric ducting cleaning for your food production site, please get in touch on 01785 256 976, or email us at email@example.com. We’d be happy to help.
At HVDS we help clients in the Food Industry with cleaning and maintenance of air filtration and extraction systems. Our hygiene teams work to ensure that systems are suitable for use, hazard free and audit compliant. A typical job for us that meets this criteria is Extract Flue Cleaning.
A typical brief:
Customers typically request that we go on-site in order to assess and subsequently clean their oven or fryer extract flues.
Our teams come across a range of scenarios when carrying out these jobs. Here are two examples of what the HVDS team have found on separate occasions:
The images above show two different cases of what can come from an extract flue assessment and clean – specifically an extract flue that has been poorly maintained over time. The image on the right clearly demonstrates what happens when an extract flue experiences very heavy use but has not been experiencing a regular cleaning regime.
So, what is wrong with these pictures?
The chocolate looking substance, otherwise known as “liquid firelighter”, can cause an enormous fire and safety hazard to large factories which is why cleaning, assessment and early intervention are critical.
Solving the problem – how did we proceed?
When it comes to Extract Flue Cleaning our hygiene team works to clean out the systems, leaving them in a safe and audit compliant state as you can see below.
What could have been done to avoid this situation?
A regular maintenance plan is always advised to avoid situations like the one you see above. In terms of how often you should get your flues cleaned – this timeline gives a good indication:
- Heavy use (12-16 hours a day): every 3 months
- Moderate use (6-12 hours a day): every 6 months
- Light use (2-6 hours a day): every 12 months
How can HVDS help you
At HVDS we offer free ‘behind the scenes’ surveys to give you peace of mind, as well as offering cleaning and maintenance services to keep your air and extraction systems in good working order.
Contact us today on 01785 256 976 to find out more about our clean air solutions.
At HVDS we get a lot of enquiries from customers regarding maintenance and investigation into their current systems. It is during these investigations and surveys that we come across situations like this one.
A customer requested we investigate the reason behind a lack of extraction from their Dust Extract Unit (DEU) in their ingredients blending room.
Here is what we discovered on site.
So, what is wrong with this picture?
Our investigation found that the ductwork was severely contaminated, resulting in the reduction of the DEU’s ability to extract dust.
Solving the problem – how did we proceed?
HVDS carried out a full ductwork system deep clean followed by a DEU filter change. This dramatically improved the hygiene levels by improving the Indoor Air Quality of the ingredients room.
The clean and filter change enabled the dust extractors to begin working to their full capacity once again, resulting in a clean and compliant production environment.
What could have been done to avoid this?
A regular maintenance plan is always advised to avoid situations like this one.
While an engineers time can be limited, with other responsibilities such as production maintenance and management, the time taken to carry out regular checks can be extremely beneficial and incredibly cost effective in the long run.
How can HVDS help you
At HVDS we can offer free ‘behind the scenes’ surveys to give you peace of mind and to ensure that your production environments are compliant and working correctly.
Contact us today on 01785 256976 to find out more about our air filter and extraction solutions.
Here at HVDS we are often asked to look at air filters, ductwork systems and issues with airflow. There are many issues that can be lurking behind causing trouble for food manufacturers. Here we take a look at a couple of cases where our help has been invaluable.
HVDS were recently asked to look at an issue with low airflow. Here is what we discovered on site.
What is wrong with this picture?
What you can see here is a filter that has clearly been neglected. For how long, we don’t know.
What could be done to avoid this?
A well-managed air filter regime is always possible, and it is what should have been implemented in this instance to avoid this issue. Even if engineers are busy with production maintenance, management and service of filters is crucial. In the long-term it can be costly to replace, not to mention the repercussions of dealing with any health and safety concerns that may arise from poorly maintained equipment such as this.
It’s not only filters that can get into these poor states either. Our team also recently carried out ductwork cleaning for a client and came across this… all found inside the ductwork as a result of extracting from the travel ovens.
Why is this a cause for concern?
One of the biggest causes of fires in food factories is uncleaned extraction ductwork and flues. With sites manufacturing and producing 24/7, it is crucially important to allocate time for cleaning and inspection to ensure risk is minimised.
How can HVDS help
At HVDS we have tailored solutions for your applications, we also offer free ‘behind the scenes’ ductwork surveys to give you peace of mind.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org today or call on 01785 256 976 to find out more about our air filter and ductwork solutions.