We recently had a team photo session at HVDS. The aim was to get some good shots of HVDS staff members for the website and for some of our new printed materials too.
At 7 in the morning, both the office staff and the engineers gathered in the car park for a quick photoshoot before the engineers had to be on the road to visit customers. We managed to take photos of most of the HVDS team, apart from a few members of staff who were already out at customer sites. We took pictures of the whole team, the office staff, as many of the engineers who were able to attend, and the air filtration team.
The dust extraction team and the hygiene team are yet to be photographed. Both the dust extraction and the ductwork cleaning service have expanded rapidly over the last few months. In fact, we welcomed Nathan Jones to the hygiene team last week. Nathan is working alongside Adrian, Darren and Lee, providing a first class ductwork cleaning service to our food manufacturing customers. We look forward to being able to take these further team photos later in the month.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the photoshoot. Despite the early start and the fact that the engineers were keen to get their vans loaded up for the day, there were plenty of smiles and jokes, making it a pleasant experience for all.
In among all the formal pictures, we took this informal ‘selfie’ too!
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.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),
“Dusts are solid particles, ranging in size from below 1 µm (micrometre) up to at least 100 µm, which may be or become airborne, depending on the origin, physical characteristics and ambient conditions.”
Dust can be created by manual processes, such as cutting, crushing and grinding and particles can be so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. Different types of dust also carry different risks to human health and can be classified into three types: L Class (Low Risk), M Class (Medium Risk) and H Class (High Risk). Each class has a maximum allowable concentration, which is essential for employers to understand.
L Class Dust (Low Risk)
L Class dust is of lower toxicity and includes simple house dust, soil, general construction dust/waste, soft woods and solid surface material. The workplace exposure limit/maximum allowable concentration (MAC) for L Class dust is >1 mg/m3. This means that you need a dust extractor that catches 99% of the dust. For L Class dust, there should be a Filter Leakage no greater than 1% of the collected dust.
M Class Dust (Medium Risk)
Dusts in the M classification include hard woods (e.g. oak and beech), board material/man-made woods (MDF), repair compound, filler and clear coats, cement, tile cement, brick, mortars (silica), concrete dust, quartziferous materials (e.g. sand) and paints, such as oil paints and latex. They present a medium degree of risk to human health and the workplace exposure limit/maximum allowable concentration (MAC) for M Class dust is ≥ 0.1 mg/m³. Thismeans you need a dust extractor that catches 99.9% of the dust. For M Class dust, there should be a Filter Leakage no greater than 0.1% of the collected dust.
H Class Dust (High Risk)
H Class is high toxicity dusts containing pathogenic or carcinogenic particles, as well as asbestos, mould spores, bitumen, mineral fibres and artificial mineral fibres, like glass wool. They present a high degree of risk to human health and the workplace exposure limit/maximum allowable concentration (MAC) for H Class dust is < 0.1 mg/m³. This means you need a dust extractor that catches 99.995% of the dust. For H Class dust, there should be a Filter Leakage no greater than 0.005% of the collected dust.
Another category of dust, as highlighted by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is combustible dusts. A combustible substance, mixed with air and with the addition of a source of ignition will cause an explosion. Workplaces that typically produce potentially explosive atmospheres include those handling fine organic dusts, such as wood or flour dust and those where processes release flammable gases or vapours, such as vehicle paint spraying. The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) make employers responsible for eliminating or controlling the risks from explosive atmospheres in the workplace. According to HSE,
“In DSEAR, an explosive atmosphere is defined as a mixture of dangerous substances with air, under atmospheric conditions*, in the form of gases, vapours, mist or dust in which, after ignition has occurred, combustion spreads to the entire unburned mixture.”
*Atmospheric conditions are commonly referred to as ambient temperatures (–20°C to 40°C) and pressures (0.8 to 1.1 bar).
There are two European Directives for controlling explosive atmospheres: Directive 99/92/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 137’ or the ‘ATEX Workplace Directive’) and Directive 94/9/EC (also known as ‘ATEX 95’ or ‘the ATEX Equipment Directive’).
Dust Control Considerations
It is important to use the right dust extraction equipment. In fact, HSE are giving out substantial fines where the wrong/no dust extraction equipment is being used.
When choosing dust extraction equipment the following should be taken into account:
- Type of dust you need to control (L, M or H Class, explosive dust)*
- Volume of dust to be extracted to match the extraction rate
- Storage capacity of the extractor
- Disposal of dust – with secure disposal required for H Class waste
* most L and M Class dust extractors will have similar suction rates and filtration levels
Different types of dust present different risks. At HVDS, we help you choose the right dust control solution for your particular workplace. For more information contact us here. To find out more about our dust, fume, mist, spray and oil extraction service, click here.
Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) systems control substances hazardous to health and every company providing LEV extraction equipment has a legal requirement to comply with COSHH Regulation 9, in order to protect its employees.
“Proper maintenance is a vital part of any control regime and inspectors and enforcement officers should ensure that employers comply fully with regulation 9, particularly where there is exposure to substances that can cause cancer or asthma.”COSHH Regulation 9 – Maintenance
How An LEV System Works
Many processes create harmful dusts, fumes and vapours that are hazardous to health. LEV systems use extract ventilation to transport these airborne contaminants away from the employee’s breathing zone. Pollutants are drawn away from the process by means of an extraction hood, booth or other device placed over or around the area in which the harmful substance is being released. Ducting to the inlet of a fan is connected to the device so that the extracted air can be discharged to the atmosphere or cleaned and then released.
In order to ensure that your system is in a good state of repair and works efficiently, a thorough examination and testing should be carried out a minimum of every 14 months. In some cases, examinations should be more frequent. If you are unsure how frequently your LEV system needs testing, please contact us here.
Employers must keep a record of LEV examination and testing, including any remedial repairs undertaken as a result of the examination and test, for a period of at least 5 years.
How We Can Help
We provide a comprehensive LEV testing service to ensure your systems are compliant. Our accredited engineers are trained to BOHS standards and will carry out an examination according to COSHH Regulation 9 (HSG258) See the HSE publication, Controlling airborne contaminants at work: A guide to local exhaust ventilation (LEV), for more information.
We also provide Workplace Air Monitoring and will provide a full report of your current Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
For more information about our dust extraction service, please click here. Alternatively, please contact us on 01785 256976 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Due to continued company expansion, we are currently recruiting for an LEV Testing & Mechanical Service Engineer. For more information about this role, please click here.
From 2016 to 2017, HVDS doubled in size – and we are continuing to grow!
In the last 18 months, HVDS have taken on 11 engineers and 5 members of office staff. This year alone, we have been pleased to welcome additions to our rapidly expanding dust extraction team and are currently also in the process of recruiting more ductwork cleaning and air filtration engineers.
All new staff have a training programme and we have seen many of them pass a range of exams to develop their skills.
Our continued growth comes after our expansion project of 2017, which saw the extension of the warehouse and distribution facilities at St. Albans Road in Stafford. The extension provided more than 60% additional space and gave HVDS customers a range of additional benefits. Take a look at our time lapse footage and image slideshow of the warehouse extension and concrete laying here.
The reason for our recent expansion follows years of laying solid foundations. Quality, excellence and outstanding service have always been paramount and recent comments by our customers show that this is paying off in terms of the benefits they receive. As well as receiving guaranteed audit compliance and energy efficient, high performance air solutions, we are supplying them with a value added service while keeping their costs to a minimum.
Read some of their comments below:
“I have worked with HVDS now for 3 years. In that time I have received first class service. The work done on site has been completed on time with no fuss and no mess left behind. The team have provided solutions to our problems, excellent design and installation of our CAPEX projects and fantastic documentary support for our audits. The engineers that visit site are professional, courteous and cheerful. They complete the work in a safe, timely manner and I barely know they are there. Overall a first class service provider I would recommend to anyone.”
Site Services Engineering Group Leader, Kerry Foods
“Thanks to the team at HVDS for their efforts this year, from admin to the guys who carry out the works. All documentation arrives in a timely manner from the required RAMS, to the service documentation, which allowed us all to get on with our daily works unhindered.
A special word to the service guys who always carry out the work effectively with a minimum amount of fuss and supervision, in what sometimes can be a challenging environment!”
Engineering Manager, Seachill
“Service levels, discussions, feedback & reporting has been excellent. Taking on many tasks to improve ‘our’ companies performance, and production. HVDS have provided great assistance with passing Audits with the FUSION™ service. No hesitation in recommending them.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers for all your support over the last few years and would also like to thank our hardworking and dedicated team.
For more information about our service, please get in touch here.
At HVDS, we have a very dedicated team of specialists in dust extraction. Their commitment to our customers is second to none. So when they gain their BOHS LEV qualifications and pass their exams with flying colours, we can only feel a sense of great pride in the knowledge that they will be using their new skills to serve our customers even better.
Pictured here are Darren Carvell, our Dust Extraction Specialist, and Jane Boon, our Dust Aftermarket Sales & Contracts Manager. They have both successfully completed the BOHS P600 course (Methods for Testing the Performance of Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems) with only one point off full marks!
A few days prior to this success, our Dust Extraction Manager, Carl Latham, passed his P604 theory exam! This success can be added to Carl’s other LEV qualifications and BOHS accreditations (P601, P602 and W201).
The P604 course (Performance Evaluation and Management of LEV Systems) is for engineers, supervisors, managers, health and safety professionals and technical staff who have day to day dealings with LEV equipment.
Many thanks to Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) training provider, OXYL8 Ltd, for helping our team meet the qualification and membership requirements of the Institute of LEV Engineers (ILEVE).
The BOHS is the British Occupational Hygiene Society, which provides information about managing and controlling workplace health risks. A guide to all their LEV quaifications can be found here. The BOHS strives to create a healthy working environment for everyone.
One of our core values here at HVDS is to ‘strive for continuous improvement, in a culture of progress’. Well done to all who have recently qualified and good luck to those still awaiting their exam results.
If you would like to speak to our dust extraction experts about issues affecting your workplace environment, please get in touch here. We offer a FRE dust, fume, mist, spray and oil site survey to help you make informed decisions. Request your survey here. For more information about our dust, fume, mist, spray and oil extraction service, please click here.
It’s Clean Air Day 2019 so many of our team have left their cars at home and either walked or cycled to work. Our Dust Extraction Specialist, Darren, walked 8 miles to get here – leaving home at 4 am and arriving 2 hours later. Now that’s walking the talk!
Clean Air Day 2019 encourages people to find out more about air pollution, share information and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone and the website contains lots of useful information resources and statistics. For example, did you know….?
“It is thought that up to 36,000 deaths each year in the UK are caused by air pollution.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) sets maximum limits for air pollution. These limits look at daily and annual averages. According to the Clean Air Day website, almost 2,000 locations in the UK are above these limits and there are places in the UK where the air pollution is three times as high as the WHO limits.
The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) publishes an Air Pollution Forecast that you can use to check the air pollution in your area.
Pollution in the air can contaminate foods compromise food safety and the food production industry is particularly vulnerable. For certain foods (such as baked goods), the most vulnerable part of the production process is between oven and packaging, for example, when contamination can occur.
HVDS provides an air filtration service, which will keep the air in your food manufacturing plant clean and free from contaminants, including emissions, pollen, dust, mould spores etc. Our hospital grade HEPA filters offer such a high level of filtration that they will even stop the spread of viruses.
For more information about our air filtration service for food manufacturers, get in touch here. Or call one of our air filtration experts on 01785 256976. We’re here to help.
At HVDS we help clients in the Food Industry with cleaning and maintenance of air filtration and extraction systems. Our teams work to ensure that systems are suitable for use, hazard free and audit compliant. In this instance, our team were called to investigate a case of poor airflow.
The HVDS team were called on-site to a food factory to investigate poor airflow and leaking ducting. This is what they found.
So, what is wrong with these pictures?
These pictures clearly highlight poor workmanship on an installed ventilation system. Consequently, this meant poor airflow in the food factory, and the ventilation system not performing correctly.
Solving the problem – how did we proceed?
The HVDS team worked with the customer to rectify these issues and ensure correct installation, so that their food factory ventilation systems work effectively and successfully.
How can HVDS help you:
Contact us today on 01785 256 976 to find out more about our clean air solutions for the food manufacturing and processing industry.
In this infographic we take a look at Air Filters in relation to Audit Compliance, and the benefits you will gain from having an air filter audit carried out.
For a more in-depth look at Audit and Compliance, and whether your Air Filter Systems are up to scratch, click here.
Air filtration and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) levels are two of the many different operational functions for which companies are responsible. However, often these important areas are overlooked due to other perceived priorities or deferred maintenance.
This is simply bad practice, not only from a financial standpoint but also from the viewpoint of good business standards. Some facts to consider from a range of studies into IAQ include ‘a significant number of workers believe that poor IAQ has caused them to miss work‘, and ‘nearly 80% of factory workers now believe that clean air is an important priority and should be treated as such by organisations‘.
Considering the above, it is essential that senior teams have a trusted partner to support them in the optimal selection and operation of their air filtration systems, as well as robust maintenance and control systems in place.
We all know that there are many benefits to having an efficient HVAC system. These include: –
- The opportunity to create a better working environment for your staff
- Protection of the production environment
- More efficient maintenance programmes due to reduced downtime
- Cost savings through reduced energy usage facilitated by an optimised HVAC system
Specifically focusing on food production, what concerns might food processing plants have?
- Unable to meet regulatory and customer standards
- Potential compliance risks
- Concerned about productivity and absenteeism issues caused by poor IAQ
Air Filtration Audit
A thorough air filter audit of your air handling systems is the first step to provide you with professional guidance and analysis for cost savings and risk reduction. Well planned audits can discover serious issues that are leading to problems in an HVAC system. Additionally, these surveys help us catch minor troubles that could lead to serious issues if left unattended.
Furthermore it allows professionals to make recommendations on filter technology that will save you time and money by reducing labour and energy cost.
5 benefits that you will get from an air filter audit:
- Analysis of your current filter state by a team of industry experts.
- Professional guidance and analysis to reduce your energy spend, decrease your risk, and save you time.
- Valuable and detailed benchmark data.
- Life cycle cost report that will show you where your HVAC systems could be performing even better.
- A standardized list of filters by air handler unit (AHU) and application.
The provision of an efficient and effective air handling system within your food factory has proven to improve hygiene levels. HVDS’ air hygiene and air handling products and services have been installed in food manufacturing facilities throughout the UK and Ireland. We have helped to significantly improve cleanliness, hygiene and productivity within these manufacturing facilities.
At HVDS we also appreciate the critical nature and the time consumption of food audit compliance. Consequently, HVDS ensure that your audit reports are to be suitably presented to reduce audit inspection time.
In this infographic we take a look at Dust Control Systems, and what you should be checking as part of your regular maintenance schedules.
For a more in-depth look at the following points, click here:
1.) How Dust Control Systems work
2.) Prevention and maintenance of poorly kept systems
3.) How Dust Control can affect employee health and well-being
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.
The HSE have issued the following safety alert:
There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans.
The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.
With immediate effect, there is a strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding; because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.
What you need to do:
- Risk assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures.
- Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
- Ensure that suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
- Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE (respiratory protective equipment) should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
- Ensure that all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
- Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.
How can HVDS help:
Should you have any questions about the impact of this on your business, our LEV technical specialists and engineers are here to assist. Get in touch today on 01785 256 976 or email email@example.com.
When carrying out a survey on some Air Handling Units (AHUs) at a food manufacturer & processor recently, we came across this scenario; the AHU fan’s anti-vibration mounts had either completely come off or were not installed correctly.
With the fan still running and providing good airflow, it can lead you to believe that the system is fine and that it doesn’t need any immediate maintenance. However, small problems like this can lead to much bigger issues in the long run.
Why are anti-vibration mounts so important?
Here we take a look at four reasons why you should be ensuring that the fan anti-vibration mounts on your AHU’s are installed correctly:
- Anti-vibration mounts help to reduce vibration noise
- The mounts protect the fan by preventing the fan blades hitting the casing, and breaking off and throwing the fan off balance
- Anti-vibration mounts prevent structural problems occurring in the AHU caused by vibration
- The anti-vibes allow the correct and natural fluid movement of the fan whilst in operation and allows it to work at its optimum effectiveness and efficiency
Checking your anti-vibration mounts are in place correctly
As we all know, prevention is better than cure. Here at HVDS we can carry out an in-depth mechanical analysis and survey of all your AHU and fan requirements on site, to help you avoid potential costly repairs and maintenance in the future.
While clean air is a key ingredient to every part of the food and beverage manufacturing process, it is not the only ingredient involved if you take a filters only approach to clean air.
Come and join us at Food Safety Europe 2019 where HVDS will be speaking to delegates about the need for a holistic approach to clean air management and clean air risk assessments. Whereas filters are a key element, the overall health of the system needs to be assessed by engineering, hygiene and inspection auditors.
It would be dangerous to suggest that the use of any particular filter could improve shelf life as there are so many factors in the whole food manufacturing process. For example, ventilation and dust collection systems should be considered, and clean air systems should be managed in a joined up strategy.
Auditors Indoor Air Quality Risk assessments should be on the basis of a complete system inspection.
HVDS are leaders in Food Industry Clean Air Solutions.
As the only known company that is focused in the Food and Beverage business, HVDS is respected in the food industry as the preferred supplier for audit compliant Indoor Air Quality. At HVDS our focus is on more than just filters – it is to safeguard food industry processes and systems against airborne contamination. Our knowledge of how systems work give our customers peace of mind and brand protection.
As a clean air managed services provider, HVDS work with our customers to maintain filter systems to the meet the latest regulations and guidelines as well as meet the stringent requirements of audit compliance.
As a company HVDS are assisting auditors with practical steps to help their customers and clients meet Indoor Air Quality requirements.
The food processing industry, along with other industries such as medical and pharmaceuticals, has the necessity for clean rooms that can monitor particle count, type, and size, and therefore require dust controls systems to remove potentially dangerous particles from the air that can cause an explosion and are also necessary for the breathing safety of employees. In essence, dust control is essential for maintaining workplace safety.
So, how do dust control systems work?
Simply put they work by capturing particles and accumulating them in a collector until safely disposing of them, somewhat like a large and powerful vacuum cleaner.
Fans create a suction that draws the particles suspended in the air to the collector via ductwork. In the collector, the contaminated and clean airs are separated. For example, a system will push the contaminated air into the top of the collector and once inside will force it downward to the bottom. The contaminants hit the sides of the collector and then fall to the bottom while the clean air is pushed out and into another filtration system to collect the finest particles.
Why is dust control so important?
The twin threats in a food processing environment are deflagration (combustion that propagates through a gas) and disease. Both threats are caused by a fine powder of particulates that accumulate in the air within these facilities. The most efficient way to neutralize both risks is to remove these suspended particles from the atmosphere.
Deflagration is an explosion caused by the extremely rapid transfer of heat through the air and factories. Processing plants that allow suspension of particulates to propagate are setting up the environment for such an explosion. In fact, a secondary explosion usually follows, precipitated by the rapid rise in pressure caused by deflagration. As the explosion picks up fuel from the air and spreads, it can become even more destructive than the initial detonation. The entire facility can be levelled, resulting in massive loss of life and material. Dust control removes particles from surfaces and the surrounding atmosphere and significantly minimizes this danger.
In every heat explosion, there are three elements present, known as the “fire triangle”, these are oxygen, heat and fuel. When these elements are present, an explosion occurs. If suspended particulates accumulate in the air, their combined surface-area-to-volume ratio makes them highly combustible and even what may seem to be ordinary, everyday substances can become a risk.
Of course, removing heat sources is very costly and often difficult. The most effective way to minimize the risk of deflagration is to remove the elements of dispersion and fuel from the surrounding environment. This is most easily accomplished through dust control.
So, neglecting dust can have explosive consequences. Substances regularly used in industrial cooking and baking including flour, sugar and various powders, all have the potential to explode.
When substances are finely ground inside baking and cooking appliances they can create a dust cloud. This dust, when suspended and mixed with air, can cause large and even fatal explosions.
Bag tip units and bulk silo venting equipment is sometimes overlooked, but it is vital in the food manufacturing industry. These systems help reduce the amount of dust that is left over, dust that has the potential to cause explosions in the future.
Prevention is better than cure so actions such as: –
- Looking at where equipment is positioned and ensure there are no leakage points around handling systems that produce dust.
- Vacuum clean-up systems can also be used to ensure vessels and equipment are left scrupulously clean.
Let’s also take a look at the health risks for workers in a food processing plant. We know that suspended particles are readily inhaled and so removing powders from surfaces and air will minimize the health risks associated with working in these plants. Although the lungs can expel most powders to some extent, they cannot eliminate them entirely. Over time, these substances collect in the lungs and may result in irreversible health conditions. So once again, dust control is critical for safeguarding employee health.
There is something known as “Farmers lung” which can be caused from particles expelled by grains. Farmer’s lung can cause fibrosis, or scarring, of the lungs. This results in reduced breathing capacity and makes it more likely that cancer and other chronic diseases will develop. While removing a source of heat may help curtail deflagration to a point, it will not eliminate the health risks caused by suspended particles. Only dust control, performed through filters and vacuums, can accomplish this.
Prevention and Maintenance
It goes without saying that neglecting dust can have serious consequences and substances that are commonly found in the food processing industry such as flour, sugar and various powders, all have the potential to explode and so preventative maintenance is vitally important.
What sort of maintenance requirements are needed for dust control systems?
The following maintenance activities need to be carried out:
- The collector and filters must frequently be cleaned to enable the machine to run properly.
- The fan and electrical switches and boxes have to be frequently cleaned.
- The cooling vents of the machinery must be kept clean as well to prevent the machines from overheating.
- There should be an inspection for leaks in the vacuum hoses or ductwork after the cleaning. Leaks make the machine less efficient and can actually spread the contaminated particles rather than collect them.
Employee Health & Wellbeing
Employees are the most valuable asset to any business. As well as a moral obligation to protect a company’s workforce, there is also a legal obligation.
Dust that is produced as a result of food production, can also have serious effects on the health and wellbeing of employees. Exposure to dust can cause serious skin conditions and even occupational asthma, when flour dust is breathed in. In fact, respiratory conditions among bakers are now the highest of any occupation in the country.
The HSE sets a long-term Workplace Exposure Limit of 10 mg/m3 (averaged over 8 hours) and a short-term exposure limit of 30 mg/m3 (averaged over 15 minutes). Breaching of these standards can result in severe penalties, loss of productivity due to employee sickness and even legal action.
Last year, an employee from a baking company in Southampton was awarded a five-figure sum after developing occupational asthma due to over exposure to flour dust. For small or large food manufacturers, looking after employee health by reducing dust exposure is vitally important.
Also, in late 2016, a bakery company in Stevenage was fined over £36,000 for failing to comply with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) standards — a very real threat to smaller businesses.
The HSE is continuing its proactive assessment of food manufacturers for dust control and issuing penalties for the breaching of standards, but it is not just the threat of being penalised that means it is vital for the industry to take dust control more seriously. It should be about the what that companies go about their business. “This is the way we do things around here”.
A final word on the environment
Whilst most food products by their nature are not hazardous to the environment there is still a legal obligation to comply with emissions according to EPA.
For more information and advice on dust control, air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of our engineers posted some great images on LinkedIn last week showing some of the work done by HVDS’s cleaning team at one of the UK’s largest abattoirs.
So, with that in mind, we thought we would take a closer look at some of the challenges that slaughterhouses face and why it is important for a professional team to properly maintain the Air Handling Units (AHU’s).
Why are AHU’s so important in slaughterhouses?
A part of designing an air handling system is to prevent the occurrence of condensation and, in slaughterhouses condensation can occur during cleaning or during the initial chilling process of hot carcasses. The air is usually supersaturated and warmer than the room’s boundary surfaces, hence it will be depositing a large amount of condensation on the cold surfaces.
It is important then for the air to be dried out to keep the moisture levels low in order to prevent product contamination and reduce fungal and/or bacterial growth. It is also necessary for the protection of equipment such as conveyor belts and other machinery from corrosion.
Other problems slaughterhouses need to tackle include:
– Bacteria that can thrive in uncontrolled humidity
– Contaminants affecting product quality leading to health concerns for workforce and consumers
– Longer drying times for floors, surfaces and equipment after cleaning
– Potential production interruptions and plant downtime
– High energy consumption and operating costs
For more information and advice on the impact of air handling and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email@example.com.
Finding someone that satisfies your maintenance needs on site can be a real challenge in the fast-paced world of Food Processing. Even more so when you place your trust in a provider, and take it on faith that they will carry out spot checks and surveys correctly.
Sadly, this is not always the case, and Food Processing buildings can easily become unsanitary and under-maintained behind the scenes.
Why you should ensure your Air Handling Maintenance is up to the mark
Here are some shots HVDS recently found from a full site survey. This site was ‘maintained’ by another provider for nine years prior, however these images tell a different story. Issues like this what you see below, as well as uncleaned systems, can lead to a variety of problems later down the line. That is why it is crucial to have proper procedures and processes in place.
With things like this often going undetected in plants, a site survey provided by an external and impartial provider is advised. Here we take a look at the benefits of a site survey and an effective and managed maintenance plan to avoid situations like the ones illustrated above.
The benefits of a Site Survey:
1. Identifies poorly maintained and unclean systems
An air handling survey can provide you with comprehensive information about your air handling and ventilation systems. It can uncover poorly maintained systems, and highlight ways in which you can reduce risk and improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). One of the biggest issues we find when completing site surveys is poorly maintained systems that are in desperate need of a clean.
2. Enables you to re-strategise and optimise your air handling management
If you are looking to build an effective maintenance strategy, or optimise your current systems, the information provided from a site survey will enable you to make calculated decisions regarding you air handling management.
3. Gives a clear understanding of your personalised requirements
A site survey will allow you to really understand what your personalised requirements are. A one size fits all approach doesn’t always work, or your requirements may have changed. A fresh survey will present you with new ideas on air filter specification or on how to improve your air mapping, or upgrade your ductwork.
How we can help:
For more information on our Air Handling and Ventilation Site Surveys, click here or call us on 01785 256976
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.
As we look forward to the New Year, hopefully with renewed energy and confidence, we thought we would look at the real challenges facing the food processing sector in 2019. In other words, what is really keeping the industry awake at night.
We believe there are three key challenges, not entirely unrelated, and they are:
- The “B” word
Do you agree? Well let’s take a closer look at each.
We have discussed this issue before in these columns (Brexit and the Food Industry 29/11/2018) but it just won’t go away, and we are still, it seems, a long way away from getting any much-needed clarity. In fact, Brexit and it’s fall out is likely to dominate the political and economic landscape for years to come.
The issues and implications of EU legislation with regard to food, the impact on supply chains and freedom of movement still need to be fully understood and while these may seem to be somewhat dry and abstract topics perhaps, they need to be looked at through a different prism – people’s perception. For example, a vision of crops being left to rot in UK fields, because of an increased “perception among foreign workers that the UK is xenophobic and racist” and a resulting drop in the numbers coming to work in our industries.
The sector is characterised by just-in-time delivery of products with short shelf lives, and is heavily integrated with supply chains spread across the UK and the EU for sourcing raw materials, processing goods and selling them. Many manufacturers have factories in both the UK and the rest of the EU. Clearly then it is crucial that the sector is able to remain competitive when we leave the European Union and remember, of course, that Brexit is not just a concern for UK food producers but also for any food manufacturer (EU and non-EU) serving the UK market.
A headline on the BBC News website this recently asked, “Are we going to get a pudding tax?”
The piece goes on to report that public health experts have suggested it may be needed to tackle the high rates of sugar consumption. According to Government figures, by the age of 10, the average child has exceeded the recommended level of sugar intake for an 18-year-old.
The news prompted Public Health England chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone to suggest there may be a case for introducing a sugar tax on puddings! Whatever next? Well perhaps it is just the start, as the industry needs to wrestle with issues such as less meat eating, a rise in veganism and changing dietary patterns.
This can be seen from recent research which states that a third of consumers are receptive to words like “fair trade”, “gluten free” and “natural” on product packaging, according to an article on www.foodprocessing.com. While the debate continues as to whether these are fads or whether they confer actual health benefits, one thing that we do know from increasing volumes of scientific data is that food allergies are on the rise across the globe (“the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011”).
Also consider the increasing pressure on food brands to reduce sugar in their products, not just because of the proposed “pudding tax”. A report by the UK government says obesity causes harm in all walks of life, from “bullying, low self-esteem and school absence” to “heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers”.
This report is part of Government efforts to remove 20% of sugar from food by 2020. This effort focuses on the nine products that contribute most to children’s sugar intake, namely, cakes, biscuits, puddings, ice cream, confectionery, morning goods (croissants and muffins), yoghurts, breakfast cereals and sweet spreads, but the wider campaign will impact all areas of the food industry.
Factors like these combine to make consumers more discerning when choosing products, and lead to tighter restrictions on the industry. So the savvy food processors are already looking to get ahead of the game by already making decisions to reduce sugar and prioritise healthier ingredients.
The issue of skills and skills gaps is not something that is unique to the food processing industry, but given the potential of Brexit to reduce the talent pot further via ending freedom of movement for example, then it is an issue that has serious implications for the sector.
Retiring “Baby Boomers” are leaving gaps in many companies — not just because they’re leaving their jobs, but because they’re taking specialized skill sets and institutional knowledge with them. These skills gaps are occurring everywhere from the factory floor to the engineering and management levels.
One solution many companies have turned to is automation. But this solution is incomplete. You can only gain so much from automation and you still need the people with the necessary skills to programme the automatons. In fact, the industry needs to consider more imaginative ways of attracting talent and they may want to consider strategies such as looking at transferable skills. Employers usually want a candidate with sector experience – by its nature the engineering industry has always taken this specialist approach, but there is a crossover between sectors that employers could use to their advantage more frequently, particularly within advanced electronics, digital programming and ‘big data’ analysis. This approach has already seen success in other industries, such as automotive, which has thrived over the past few years.
The Way Forward
Well despite a challenging 2018 and the massive uncertainty created by Brexit, business confidence generally still seems to be high and that is also true of the sector. The challenges in food and beverage industry are massive and with increasing competition, new markets, changing consumer spending, increasing food prices, global appetite, and advanced technology, the changes in the sector in the next few years will continue at a pace and businesses must prepare themselves to meet those challenges and the exciting opportunities they bring.
For more information and advice on how we can help you with clean air products and food manufacturing air handling services contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email@example.com.
We can all agree that consumer protection is one of the major concerns in the food processing industry. Food contamination can adversely affect human health as well as resulting in a loss of consumer confidence and damage to branding and customer loyalty.
In order to avoid these pitfalls, companies operating in the food and beverages industry should introduce custom designed air filters to maintain a sterile environment during the processing of food and beverages. Filtration plays a critical role in providing a safe method for removing impurities and extending the shelf life of many food products.
Why are air filters critical?
Airborne bacteria is a serious concern in food processing. Large number of bacteria, particulates, yeast and mould spores can pass through air handling systems every hour in open plant applications and filters are critical in the removal of microorganisms, Cryptosporidium and particulate matter.
Considerations when it comes to air filtration
Depending on the nature of the HVAC system – roof mounted or closed system – there are different considerations when considering air filtration.
HVAC systems mounted on rooftops require proper filter design, which may include a pre-filter bank for coarse dust contaminates, followed by higher filtration or HEPA filtration. Maintenance of these systems is essential for open plant air processing.
In closed system applications, processing and dispensing of food and/or beverages occurs in a closed work cell. Maintenance of temperature, humidity, and air filtration is an essential requirement for closed system environment. A series of HEPA filters is used for such processes.
Other air filter considerations include:-
- Filters should themselves not be a source of contamination
- Filters should be moisture resistant
- Filters should not have any fibre shredding
- Filters should be robust enough to put up with the stresses of mechanical operation
- Airtight and leak free
All of the above points also illustrate that cheap filters and filtration solutions are rarely effective, from either an operational or financial standpoint.
Of course the degree of filtration depends greatly on the type of product or products being processed, for example, highly micro-sensitive products will require the highest filter standards.
Also air intake units should also be filtered to the degree demanded by the quality of the incoming air and the contamination potential of the product being produced in the factory. These air intake units should be easily accessible for frequent cleaning to prevent interruption of the airflow. The design of any exhaust stacks and their location in relation to the intake air equipment is an important design issue.
Other concerns for food processors
Another concern for food processors is condensate in a plant, especially if it is above or close to where food is handled. Air-handling systems should be designed to minimize such issues, especially in environments where steam is used or during cleanups of cold rooms. Some processors install ventilation systems that are reversible. The process floor operates under positive pressure from HEPA-filtered air during production. During cleanup, the system is reversed to remove steam and warm air to minimize condensate and help dry the area.
Indeed it is incumbent on every food processor to look at its products and processes and evaluate potential risks.
HVDS provide a range of high quality, energy efficient air filtration, ventilation, air handling and air extraction products. Including HVAC air filters, air handling air filters, and air filtration products for air handling, ventilation and extraction.
For more information and advice on the impact air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fabric ducts in the food processing environment help to generate a healthier and more hygienic atmosphere by improving indoor air quality (IAQ) and an optimised air distribution. And we know that improved IAQ has proven to significantly increase labour productivity and reduce sickness related absence, and the costs associated with the correlated downtime. They also guarantee stable and homogeneous air diffusion in all types of installation.
In addition to these benefits to employees there are other very sound technical reasons to be using fabric ducting in your food processing plant.
Here we take a quick look at these. They include:
- The high cooling loads required in a typical food production area usually lead to quite wide temperature differences. As a result this can lead to high volumes of very cold air entering the room. It is vital to maintain a low air velocity in the room air movement so that this cold air doesn’t make people ill or uncomfortable, and this is really only achievable with fabric ducting. This is due to the high diffusion area of fabric installed within the production space.
- Due to the lightweight nature of the fabric design, fabric ducting is more hygienic but also far easier to install and clean. Usually duct cleaning can be a time consuming and complicated procedure. However, fabric duct systems can be easily washed by simply removing, washing and sanitising the fabric ducting systems, and then replacing them in their original positions.
- Due to their size and rigidity, most ductwork systems often require specialist transport arrangements for delivery. However, due to their lightweight design, the fabric ducting systems can be easily transported using a standard delivery method. Their lightweight construction also means that the fabric ducts require fewer fixings and assembling components, therefore making installation quick and simple
If you need help or advice with your ducting systems or air ventilation requirements, get in touch with HVDS today on 01785 256976.
Heat Recovery Systems – what are they and how do they work?
In simple terms, heat recovery systems work by drawing on the potentially valuable warm air or water in a factory, and getting it to work just a little bit harder.
The heat exchanger is the brain of the heat recovery system, moving the stale air through hundreds of small pipes whilst drawing in cold air from outside in other ducts. These flow past each other without mixing physically but the heat is drawn from the stale air to the cold air, which is then fed back down into the pipes and into the plant. The stale air, minus its heat, is then expelled into the atmosphere.
Types of Heat Recovery Systems
Heat recovery systems can come in a variety of forms, but all involve some form of heat exchanger. We detail these different forms below:
- Heat Recovery Wheels
The wheels can be oriented side-by-side or on-top of each other and the exchanger can be mounted vertically or horizontally directly on-site. The wheels rotate in opposite directions to each other and the energy from the stale/exhaust air is transferred to the incoming air, heating it up. The heat exchanger wheels are normally made of aluminium, but can actually be constructed from a wide range of materials including plastic and even paper. The benefit of the thermal wheel is that it is highly efficient (up to a maximum of 80%) compared to other systems and is likely to provide a quicker return on investment.
- Plate Heat Exchangers
Plate heat exchangers are essentially a box with a series of parallel plates made from metal or plastic which allows the extracted air to pass over the incoming air, transferring the energy and heating it up. The air streams are separated by the plates and never touch, so one of the key factors in the efficiency of any system is how thin and conductive the individual plates are. Many of the most efficient systems are made from aluminium, with the high standard alloy of the plate assuring the high durability of the products.
- Run Around Heat Recovery System
A run around coil can be introduced to an existing air handling system and typically consists of two coils that are connected to each other by a pumped circuit of pipes. Water is normally used to charge the circuit, picking up the heat from the exhaust pipe and transferring it to the supply air coil. Heat recovery systems such as these are used where the two air streams are not close enough for more efficient systems, such as the thermal wheel or recuperator technology. For example when airflows are required to be completely separate (e.g. hospitals). It generally delivers a maximum efficiency of around 50%.
- Heat Pumps
Heat pumps take the heat from one area and transfer it to another location. They operate in a similar way to a refrigeration unit and can be used for both cooling and warming the air. There are a number of different varieties and they can draw heat from the outside air, as well as from the ground through the use of a network of pipes.
The Benefits of Heat Recovery Systems
Now we take a quick look at the benefits of these Heat Recovery Systems:
- With heat recovery ventilation systems you can supply a much cleaner and more constant air environment for employees at any time in the year, keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter with smart technology.
- Installing something like a flue economiser onto a large boiler can increase its lifetime because it is not subject to sudden high temperatures that cause excessive wear and tear.
- Greater reductions in heating costs because you are using boilers and ventilation systems more efficiently.
- Significantly reduce the levels of carbon dioxide emitted.
- For businesses there is also the credibility that comes with working in a greener environment.
Waste is a significant problem in food supply chains. There is potential for spoilage of food products at any stage of the supply chain when the products reach their “best before” or “sell by date”.
As a key to the food waste problem, there is a trend towards developing shelf life solutions that are intended to allow products not only to last longer, but also to improve their quality and nutritional benefits. This cannot happen soon enough if we consider for a moment the following facts:
- Between 1.3mt and 2.6mt of food is wasted every year because the product life has expired. Households waste food because it has ‘not been used in time’ and retailers don’t sell food that has exceeded its use-by date.
- Some 250,000 tonnes of food waste can be prevented by a one-day increase in product life. This includes food wasted by households and by the retailer supply chain.
- By preventing this volume of waste, UK shoppers look at a potential shared saving of up to £500 million. The direct business benefit to retailers is approaching £100 million in waste prevention alone: with increased sales through improved on-shelf availability it is another benefit retailers may enjoy.
How can good air filtration help and support this situation?
One area that can help to reduce waste and improve supermarket shelf life is in the food processing plants and specifically, good ventilation and air filtration.
We know that poor filtration and ventilation allows for the build up of moulds and yeast, which is a major cause of product deterioration. The knock on effect in terms of waste, revenue loss and brand damage is a major issue for supermarkets, manufacturers and the end customer.
Therefore, proper air filtration and air ventilation strategies are key in order to act on the microorganisms such as bacteria and moulds found in the atmosphere. Properly maintained filtration and air ventilation systems will reduce the amount of moisture in the air and eliminate particles containing bacteria etc… by sterilising, collecting and retaining them. It is also important that ventilation and air filtration equipment is maintained, as the damp, moist or humid ventilation system can act as a breeding ground for mould.
However, it is not just the air quality in the processing plant that can help. The following factors can also be present in a supermarket;
- Gases such as carbon monoxide or radon
- Contaminants such as mold
- Improper or inadequate ventilation
and they can all affect Indoor Air Quality.
So, it is important for supermarkets to take Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) seriously in order to improve customer experience, reduce waste and improve shelf-life, however it is a sad fact that some supermarkets are not giving this issue careful consideration, outside of the energy saving and cost reduction agenda.
Talk to us about our air filtration and ventilation solutions today. Contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email@example.com.
There is no doubt that preventing cross-contamination in food processing plants is a formidable challenge. Food processors face an enemy they can’t see and one that can cause big problems to production and profitability. However, it is the responsibility of the plant manager to firstly ensure that all staff both understand and comply with the contamination policy of the organisation.
Here we take a look at five factors that are essential to consider when thinking about Cross-Contamination in the Food Industry:
It’s all about training, and elements of that training needs to include disease control, hygiene and ongoing process and regulatory training, but more importantly a culture of excellence and best practice needs to pervade through the whole organisation. We all know that one of the main means of cross-contamination is from the individual who handles the food. For instance, food can become contaminated if a worker who was dealing with raw chicken earlier didn’t wash their hands prior to handling ready-to-eat products or if they forgot to put gloves on.
Food Processing and Storage Operations
Looking beyond the people, all food processing and storage operations must be designed to facilitate maintenance and sanitation operations. For example, focus should be given to exterior grounds, facility construction and, particularly, floors and doorways.
Wet floors are most conducive to pathogen growth, but even dry floors can be a source of cross-contamination. Floors must not only be cleaned thoroughly and often; they also need to be maintained to avoid the formation of “niches,” such as cracks, where pathogens can hide from cleaners and multiply.
Doorways play a critical role in contamination control and where possible it’s good practice to form airlock entries into facilities, to prevent contaminants entering critical hygiene areas. In addition, you should make sure that doors are always kept closed to reduce the chance of cross contamination and to assist the cooling units in maintaining temperature. In addition, ensure that doors are properly maintained and that they fit properly.
Other Plant Maintenance
In terms of other plant maintenance, checking equipment regularly and cleaning properly are important, as are having smart sanitation procedures and controls. If this is done right establishing procedures and controls will increase efficiency, lower costs and, most importantly, protect consumers.
In fact, as the saying goes, “cleanliness is next to godliness”. E. coli and other harmful bacteria live in and on the human body, especially around the face and on hands and clothing. Raw materials, such as poultry, meat, milk and agricultural products that are handled by plant workers, often contain Campylobacter, Salmonella and other pathogens. This potent combination reinforces the vital role good personal hygiene plays in the production of safe food products. It is no surprise that sanitation experts continually voice the importance of good personal hygiene in the workplace, with proper hand washing and clean clothing seen as the key to this strategy.
Another key factor to consider of course is pest control. Pests like rodents, insects, birds and other types of animals must be prevented from entering any area of the food plant and so it is important to create an effective strategy to prevent problems arising from pests from developing. Prevention programs to prevent pest entry might include trapping, elimination of harbourage locations, using pesticides, and monitoring pest control devices.
Cross-Contamination Prevention Plan
It is also worth drawing up a cross-contamination prevention plan to consider how the process moves across the company. For example, from the receipt of the raw material, to the finished product, the process should be evaluated to understand how ingredients come into the facility and how they will be processed. This will help to determine the crossing of product and probable points of cross-contamination.
Finally, monitor everything. Monitoring a sanitation program helps food processors learn from past history and when adverse events, such as a damaged roof or a pathogen outbreak, occur, response will be faster and more effective.
For more information and advice on how HVDS can help you with your food factory hygiene contact us at 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whatever one’s views of Brexit and whether or not you were a “Remainer” or a “Leaver”, it is safe to say that most people – businesses and individuals – outside of the Westminster bubble just want to get on with our withdrawal from the EU. But what are the implications of Brexit on the food industry?
According to the Government, the processed food and drink sector is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and contributes £28.8 billion to the economy. With other key statistics including:
- Exports were worth £22 billion in 2017 and they continue to grow.
- The sector directly employs 400,000 people throughout the country, a third of whom are EU nationals.
The sector is characterised by just-in-time delivery of products with short shelf lives and is heavily integrated with supply chains spread across the UK and the EU for sourcing raw materials, processing goods and selling them. Many manufacturers have factories in both the UK and the rest of the EU.
Clearly then it is crucial that the sector is able to remain competitive when we leave the European Union and remember, of course, that Brexit is not just a concern for UK food producers but also for any food manufacturer (EU and non-EU) serving the UK market.
Food is not like other sectors. With climate change and population growth threatening food security globally, keeping the UK’s farmers in business matters. Not just for economic reasons but also for more prosaic but equally important reasons like maintaining the landscapes. Therefore it can be argued that what is needed is an imaginative new system of subsidy that gives public money to farmers for public goods, or risk farmers leaving the land.
Let’s take a brief look at three key areas: Supply Chains, Legislation and Freedom of movement.
- The potential impact of a Brexit on supply chains
Supply chains could indeed be affected if tariffs are imposed between the UK and the other EU Member States. Currently, products move freely across the border between the UK and the other EU Member States and no tariffs apply. Following Brexit however, the food and drink sector could face significant EU tariffs and potential supply chain disruptions.
- What about EU food legislation?
Will the UK continue to apply EU food legislation, which has been adopted, harmonized and is directly applicable throughout the EU, or will it now start introducing its own or new rules?
There are something like 4,500 or so EU regulations covering food, farming and environmental standards that fall within the remit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Whilst it’s true that Brexiters may hate the Brussels bureaucracy that dictates everything down to the size of olive oil cans, it must be recognised that many of these rules are necessary to protect from the sort of food safety scandals and frauds of the past. They are also what make trade deals and borders frictionless. Exports depend on this sort of harmonisation of rules.
- Freedom of Movement
Another critical factor, the ending freedom of movement, will almost certainly require the creation of a new layer of bureaucracy that can deal with the permits and visas for the estimated 500,000 foreign workers that farmers, food processors and food manufacturers say they must have to stay in business.
As the short review above shows this is a very complex, multi layered, multi-national problem and is likely to be so for years to come. However, business usually finds a way through what often look like intractable problems.
Audits are critically important to food companies and should be treated as such. They are the primary tool your customers use to determine if adequate food safety systems are in place at your facility. This article covers some of the strategies and tactics that should be considered to maximise your chances of a successful audit.
We will take a look at the mechanics of an audit – what’s it all about – as well as considering some common sense tips that will help facilitate a smooth audit visit.
In simple terms, an audit is an answer to a series of specific questions and how you meet them. The Plan, Do, Check Act (PDCA) model is an ideal way to begin to approach an audit.
Plan: What are the rules of the game?
Here we need to consider what are the objectives of the audit and what are the parameters. Know your standard inside and out. You need to know it better than the auditor so you can speak with authority when something comes up that you don’t agree with. You need to be an expert.
Do: What is your procedure?
This is the crux of the audit. The auditor has asked about a requirement under the standard, and now you need to show him (evidence) how you do it. This needs to be written down in a controlled policies and procedure document.
Your goal here is to lead the auditor down a straight and clear path. The auditor reviews the document for compliance to the standard and moves on to his next question.
So, the process needs to include:-
- A written document control procedure with clear responsibilities.
- A way that staff can access the documents.
- A listing (register) of all the documents in the system
- A document retention or storage system
Check: What proof do you have that it was done?
We are back to evidence again. For example, you go over a procedure with the auditor and then he will want proof that it was done according to that procedure. So what can you show the auditor to demonstrate that this is how you do things? Remember if a procedure isn’t documented, you have no proof that it was done.
You may at this point bring up other areas where you test your system as well such as internal audits, self assessment etc. Also consider that auditors will judge behaviours against the evidence they see, so “talking a good game” won’t necessarily cut it if your evidence logs are not consistent with what the auditors sees.
Act: What happens if it is not correct?
We all recognise – even auditors – that no system is perfect, and if it is the auditor will be suspicious. Auditors expect to see errors in your system; they expect to see that things didn’t go as planned. The key here is being able to demonstrate what you did about it. This is your corrective action procedure. Just like document control, it operates the same. So, just like document control, you need a procedure that addresses the requirements and proof that it is followed. Your errors are your proof.
Above all any auditor is looking for clarity and easy path to navigate their way through your processes. The PDCA model can help you to do that.
Now we take a look at some tips that can help you in preparing for and executing a successful audit.
As we have discussed earlier, audits are largely based on the ability to provide the auditor with evidence that operations are compliant with a certain standard. The types of thing that will alert the auditor or make him want to dig deeper include a lack of organisation, untrained staff, and misinterpretation of compliance criteria. So in order to minimise this, here are 5 points to consider:
1.Small things matter
Make sure that conditions throughout the plant are tidy and things are labelled and in their rightful place. There should be sufficient space between the wall and stored material for pest control and cleaning activities to take place. Also ideally your internal audit should be conducted at least two months prior.
2. Teamwork is vital to success
At least three weeks before the audit have a staff meeting to prepare. Employees should be familiar with their written job descriptions and the monitoring records they are responsible for. Also staff and management need to have an understanding of:
- The hazards related to the CCP identified in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP, plan.
- Terms such as “corrective action,” and the difference between verification and validation.
- The difference between recall and traceability.
3. Last minute won’t cut it
Preparation is the key to a successful audit outcome and so actions like filling out documentation in front of the auditor, or correcting deviancies while the audit is being conducted just won’t work. It is also important to use assertive language when speaking with the auditors. Cut out terms like “we try” or “sometimes.”
4. Senior Management involvement
We all have been part of audits where management is not available to attend either the opening or closing meeting. It is in the best interest of the company for someone in a senior role to be briefed prior to the meeting, and meet with the auditor. Adopting an accredited standard is a serious commitment. Senior management should speak with the auditor about the standard/audit and explain some of the steps that have been taken to comply with the standard.
5. Don’t be defensive
Auditors are human beings too, and they will not take kindly to being challenged especially on an area where you clearly don’t comply. Remember they are just doing their job, and the main activity of that job is to collect data. So, if you disagree with the findings, take it up through the appeals process. You can challenge the auditor after the report is issued. Stay positive and the audit will go more smoothly.
If you want to know more about how HVDS can help you to comply with relevant standards relating to clean air in the food industry, please contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email email@example.com.
Important notice: HVDS will be closed for business from Friday 21st December 2018 and reopen on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.
Employees in food processing industries can face numerous health and safety hazards on the job. Some of these many risks include ergonomic, slip, fall, chemical and amputation hazards. Additionally, stressful, fast-paced work environments lead to accidents of varying degrees of severity. While much of the emphasis is on the safety of food products, the safety of the workers who make those products has seen more attention the past several years.
So what are some of the risks that employees on the food processing plant shop floor face?
Many potential work related illnesses are not unique to the food processing industry. For example, back pain, stress, noise damage, skin diseases can be found in all manufacturing environments. However, there are some risks that are unique to the food industry:
- The risk of combustible dust – A typical combustible dust explosion has two phases: an initial explosion within the processing equipment, followed by a secondary explosion caused by additional dust igniting and dispersing into the air. The food industry is particularly susceptible to these types of explosions. Virtually every ingredient used in food has the potential to become combustible dust, especially sugars, flours, starches, and spices.
- Musculoskeletal disorders – Problems with the muscles, tendons, ligaments or joints affect many people in the food processing industry. Over time, these conditions can not only cause debilitating injuries for workers, but they can also cost companies significantly in medical bills, workers’ compensation insurance premiums, and perhaps most significantly form a productivity viewpoint, low employee morale.
- Improper or non use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – Items such as gloves, goggles, and aprons, can greatly reduce workers’ exposure to harmful substances and environments. But only if workers actually wear them.
- Asthma – As many as 3,000 workers develop occupational asthma each year, while up to 4,000 more who already have the condition, are made worse because of their job. It is thought to be caused by an allergic reaction to airborne particles, such as flour or wood dust.
If these are some of the risks what can be done to mitigate them?
As you would expect the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) provides a huge range of advice on complying with Health and Safety Law and staying safe at work. A lot if this is plain common sense.
To protect workers from harm, employers are required to establish procedures and controls for dangerous equipment, safety and emergency response programs. However, they need to go farther than that to protect against some of the points highlighted above. For example, if we look at the dust risk, organisations should be adopting dust control strategies, including:
- Implement a hazardous dust inspection, testing, housekeeping, and control program;
- Use proper dust collection systems and filters;
- If ignition sources are present, use cleaning methods that do not generate dust clouds.
It is also about creating a “safety culture” within the organisation and this starts with the tone at the top because unless senior managers and directors do not buy in to the safety ethos then you will not create that safety culture. The absence of a top-down approach will doom any improvement programmes. However, with management’s support, employee safety committees will flourish. In a safety culture, companies constantly strive for continuous improvement and employees know that their safety is more important than keeping lines running at all costs.
One of things that underpins a true “safety culture” is training. The food manufacturing environment is only as safe as the people working in it and so providing regular, ongoing training is essential not only for worker safety and well-being but also for improved productivity, quality and ultimately bottom line results.
For more information on how HVDS can help you to create a safe working environment contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The definition of a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system is: an engineering control system to reduce exposures to airborne contaminants such as dust, mist, fume, vapour or gas in the workplace. Simply put it is something that sucks an airborne contaminant out of the workplace.
It is vital that the correct LEV is chosen for a particular task and kept correctly maintained. If a process or activity with which the LEV is associated is changed, then the suitability and specification of the LEV system must be re-assessed.
Most systems consist of the following:
- Hood – where the contaminant enters the LEV
- Ducting ‐ to transport the contaminant and air
- Fan – To power the system
- Discharge – To release extracted air to a safe place
- Air cleaner or arrestor – to filter or clean the extracted air (not all systems have this type)
Types of LEV System:
- Total Enclosure – the process is totally enclosed, and the air extracted from the enclosure e.g. glove boxes/blasting cabinets/CNC machines
- Partial Enclosure – the process is not totally enclosed, and the operator can access the process. Air is pulled passed the operator and into the enclosure e.g. spray booths and milling machines
- Capture Hoods – the process is not enclosed by the system; the contaminant is pulled into the system e.g. ventilated bench, down draft table, welding extract, solder tip extraction, low level room extraction for liquid nitrogen areas or solvent stores, integrated extraction on equipment such as saws and sanders
- Receiving Hoods – the process is not enclosed by the system; the process provides the energy to deliver the contaminant to the hood e.g. canopy hoods over furnace or oven.
Advantages/Disadvantages of LEV:
- Properly positioned LEV and/or well-designed units will capture emissions at source and so protect the employee from exposure.
- The general supply/exhaust ventilation air volume can be reduced as it is not relied upon to dilute contaminants.
- If the LEV is incorrectly placed, contaminants can be drawn into either an employees breathing zone or the process itself.
- Emissions drawn into the system must be disposed of safely and without any adverse effect on the environment.
- It is an additional system to operate and maintain; otherwise it could become an exposure and/or fire hazard.
- Employees must be properly trained in the system’s correct use, its effectiveness and maintenance needs.
When using LEV to control exposure, companies must thoroughly assess the hazards to be controlled and be satisfied with the following:
- the system is fit for purpose
- trained employees are used to maintain the system
- the system is regularly maintained
- records are kept demonstrating that the system is both effective and ongoing.
Having a good understanding of what hazards need to be controlled is crucial to ensure that the initial design can achieve adequate control.
Useful tools include the HSE LEV calculator.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations requires local exhaust ventilation systems to be maintained to a standard suitable for their purpose. It is recommended that the system be checked at least every 14 months, or more frequently if the manufacturer recommends it. Also, simple routine checks can be carried out when the system is in use.
If routine maintenance is neglected extract efficiency will deteriorate and mechanical parts could be liable to fail. As a minimum, the manufacturer or supplier’s recommendations should be used as a guide to the maintenance regime.
Plants should draw up maintenance procedures to cover a full range of activities, from simple visual checks for defects to preventative maintenance and remediation. In addition, they must ensure that there are suitable arrangements in place for the disposal of material collected by filters or other air cleaning devices.
Most filters used in local exhaust ventilation systems will, due to their very nature, require particular handling and care, with disposal being via the appropriate hazardous waste disposal route.
With any maintenance plan, suitable records must be maintained by a named responsible person. Any maintenance records should be held in the vicinity of the LEV system or should be made available for inspection by users or other personnel who may wish to inspect or carry out work on the system.
Rising global populations and the resulting pressure on water, energy and food has created an urgent need for sustainable solutions. The depletion of natural resources has raised several social, economic, and environmental challenges that call for policies that guarantee uninterrupted food supply under any circumstances.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recently reported that for the third year in a row, there has been a rise in the number of people living in food insecurity whose number may have now reached one-eighth of the world population. Food security occurs when all people are able to access enough safe and nutritious food to meet their requirements for a healthy life, in ways that are sustainable to protect future generations.
However, food security faces a number of challenges across both production and consumption which research will be essential to solve.
So what is the challenge for food producers?
Firstly let us consider the following paradox:
The rates of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, certain cancers and type II diabetes are increasing in every region, in both developed and developing countries. In fact globally there are now more people who are overweight or obese than underweight, with the two combined accounting for more than half of the world population.
However, there are around 795 million people who face hunger on a daily basis and more than two billion people lack vital micronutrients, affecting their health and life expectancy.
Now that is a challenge for all of us, and if we throw into the mix climate change and a globally ever increasing population the challenge is indeed a daunting one.
It is also worth emphasising that this isn’t someone else’s problem such as developing economies. Food security affects everyone in the UK. That’s because food production, trade, the environmental impact of agriculture, the threat of climate change, and the factors that affect food prices are all largely global in nature.
One of the areas that food producers can focus on is waste reduction. Reducing waste in the production, transport, storage, retailing and consumption of food would bring multiple benefits including increased food availability, reduced use of energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and financial benefits to producers, retailers and consumers. Innovative ways are needed to reduce the very large extent of waste in the food system, and to ensure that improvements are implemented in practice at all stages of the supply chain. For example, innovation in smart packaging technology can reduce spoilage and extend shelf life.
Another area for manufacturers to consider is getting a better understanding of how markets and consumer demand affect food production’ methods and technologies, with the aim of developing interventions that will embed production and process innovation practices that are more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable in the short and long term. “This includes the relationship between food production and nutrition, with research to enhance the quality of meat, dairy and crops, and explore the potential for biofortification and reformulation in food manufacturing” ( Global Food Security – Strategic Plan)
The challenge of food security is to assure that all people have access to enough food to lead productive lives, but a large part of food security is assuring the food is safe from a chemical, physical or biological aspects and these challenges are important considerations in the food production environment.
For more information on how HVDS can help you to optimize your production capabilities contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email@example.com.
The concept of Diffusion Ducting is designed to provide an even distribution of hot or cool air throughout closed worksites and temporary buildings.
Advanced industrial fabric with perforations allows for more efficient air circulation along the entire length of the duct, while ensuring strength and durability. It has been developed for use with heater ducts or industrial fans.
- Improve air distribution and efficiency
Because they consist of air distribution holes this allows the air that passes through the holes to create what is known as ‘high induction’ which can significantly improve air distribution and efficiency.
- Improved hygiene levels
In addition, there is increased hygiene and no condensation.The high induction effect prevents the moisture stagnation in the ducts that usually results in condensation development. This minimises air borne particles from moisture related bacteria that are emitted to the indoor environment from your air handling system.
- Quick installation
Other benefits include fast installation and delivery. For example, due to their lightweight design, the fabric ducting systems can be easily transported using a standard delivery method. Their lightweight construction also means that the fabric ducts require fewer fixings and assembling components, therefore making installation quick and simple.
- Easy to clean
Also, it’s easy to clean and can be easily washed. It’s as simple as removing, washing and sanitising the fabric ducting systems, and then replacing them in their original positions.
By ensuring an improved indoor air quality (IAQ) and an optimised air distribution, fabric ducts help to generate a healthier and more hygienic environment for your employees and manufacturing process within your food factory.
Improved IAQ has proven to significantly increase labour productivity and reduce sickness related absence, and the costs associated with the correlated downtime. They also guarantee stable and homogeneous air diffusion in all types of installation.
How do organisations go about creating a safety culture, or more specifically for food processors, a food safety culture? In this update we take a look at what food safety culture is, and why it is so important to an organisation.
Firstly, what is food safety culture?
Well organisational culture is often said to be “The way that we do things around here” but more specifically, organisational culture is made up of the following three elements:
- The visible
- The spoken
- The invisible
1. The visible element is what can be seen, for example premises, equipment, staff activities and documentation.
2. The spoken element are those rules and processes such as management memos, town hall meetings, training and reward and recognition schemes
3. Perhaps most important however are the invisible elements, those things that are the organisations underlying values. The paradox here is that these elements are often the hardest to see, yet their impact on food safety culture within an organisation is very great.
What drives these underlying values is the tone at the top, the leadership and the level of commitment that management has regarding food safety.
In addition, other elements of food safety culture include:
- Business priorities i.e. the extent to which an organisation prioritises food safety and their overall attitude regarding food safety as opposed to other priorities like cost saving or revenue generation.
- Risk perception – The organisation’s perception and understanding of the risks embedded in a food production environment.
- The organisation’s perception of the effectiveness and validity of food safety regulations.
- Food safety ownership or the level of responsibility that an organisation accepts in relation to food safety.
- Competence – The level of understanding an organisation has regarding risk management procedures.
- Employee engagement – The level of commitment the wider organisation has toward food safety.
- Effective communication – The level of communication across the organisation and the freedom for employees to challenge procedures.
This all sounds pretty straightforward stuff, right out of the business school playbook. Well, if that it is the case it raises the questions why do businesses fail to create such a culture and repeatedly “miss the mark”.
There are 4 key reasons why this might be the case:
- Confirmation Bias – the human tendency to search for, favour, and use information that confirms one’s pre-existing views on a certain topic. This can be especially the case where there is a strong CEO or senior group that operates in a controlling way.
- The Illusion of Control – this is similar to the above as there is belief that “We know what we are doing so nothing will go wrong”.
- Cognitive Dissonance – the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time. For example, you’re at work, and you notice that it appears to be okay for food quality checks to be done every 2-3 hours rather than the hourly standard that the employee manual states. However, if the company seems okay with it, you can see how you might be conflicted regarding what to do.
- Organisational Ambivalence – there are more important or pressing matters – cost control, production targets – to be addressed.
It is no easy task to create a positive culture in an organisation, however, the rewards are significant through factors such as increased efficiency, greater staff engagement and increased revenue numbers. A win for everyone.
For more information on how HVDs can help you to create an effective food safety culture in your organisation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All food processors and producers are facing an unseen threat to their food processing business, and the worrying thought is that in many businesses it is; not even recognised, not budgeted, countered or planned for, and not taken seriously.
99.9% of businesses (if not all) have taken precautions and ring fenced against computer viruses and spyware etc, but this is a threat that is just as dangerous as it acts on its own impulse, strikes at random and could bring a whole business and brand to is knees.
The threat can damage brands, close production and comes with a host of names.
The positive thing about the threat is that in the last 10+ years the threat behaves in the same way, attacks in the same way and can be prevented. But as a warning, just because it may not have attacked your process yet, there is nothing to say that it won’t.
The threat is poor IAQ (indoor air quality).
Having been in the industry for over 25 years, Indoor Air Quality has never been more important. The reason why it is more important now is because the result of social media action from poor IAQ affecting food produce is likely to be seen by 1000’s in a minute and 10,000’s in days. The world is becoming more informed, transparent and has more information at its finger tips, literally.
The various bacteria and mould spores that travel and breed in ventilation equipment that has not been properly maintained or cleaned is staggering, and its impact on food produce must not be underestimated.
The number of brands and blue-chip businesses that are playing Russian Roulette with poor IAQ is alarming. What is more alarming is that business leaders, auditors and supermarket chains are not giving IAQ enough or any attention. Many businesses are putting IAQ as a low budget priority when should it not be higher.
One argument would say, if IAQ is not a high priority for businesses that are global leaders then is it really an issue?But when poor air quality poses a risk of loss of profits, or even brand image when products are faulty, consumers are ill or go to social media about a product – surely it is something that should be assessed more critically.
The positive thing is that the remedy is quite simple for Indoor Air Quality:
- Use the right filters
- Have good frequent maintenance regime of ventilation and duct collection systems
- Have scheduled and frequent full system deep clean regime
- And repeat as necessary
Business Owners and Auditors should be checking these areas, or at least have photographic reports on the ventilation systems including the ductwork. Is it not in all parties interests to process and produce food products in clean environments?
For more help and assistance checking and improving IAQ please contact HVDS at 01785 256976.
In 2018, many food processing businesses experienced unprecedented temperatures in their plant rooms and roof voids. Some of these posed a threat to their business.
Food Industry leaders would be well advised to ask for a report on what the ambient temperatures engineers have been working in (and are working in) when in the factory roof voids and plants rooms. Lurking in these areas are the dangers that pictures will never reveal. Even the most experienced engineering manager cannot see the danger in this picture. Why? Because the danger is not felt. At an 18C outside ambient temperature, the internal ambient temperature was +42C. The danger is heat exhaustion.
It is a necessity that engineers frequent the roof voids and plant rooms as these areas are the engine room of the food processing plant. It is in these areas that critical equipment is controlled and maintained in order to keep the profit-making processes running.
Below are some critical facts of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Exposure Emergencies.
Heat emergencies have three stages:
- heat cramps,
- heat exhaustion,
All three stages of heat emergency are serious. Heat stroke can be fatal or cause lifelong complications. Seek emergency assistance if heat illness is causing vomiting, seizures, or unconsciousness or if any symptoms have not gone away after 15 minutes.
The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
- Dark-coloured urine (a sign of dehydration)
- Muscle or abdominal cramps.
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
A salutary question is, can you die from heat exhaustion?
This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
How long should an engineer work in ambient temperatures in excess of 30C.?
This is an unknown quantity and high ambient temperatures affect us all differently. Also, the frequency of exposure to high ambient temperature can affect us differently. The critical thing is to avoid lone working, take breaks as and when the individual feels it necessary, and drink plenty of water or fluid.
Your business may be at risk from this danger.
Does your business have a risk assessment and action plan to counter this risk?
There are cost effective solutions to mitigate the danger. For roof void and plant room cooling solutions please contact us.
In our latest infographic we take a look at the importance of air flow in food production. Whilst there are many things to consider when planning air flow and appropriate maintenance of room conditions, here we take a look at three things that you should be considering.
It is generally accepted that food production companies are looking to achieve three things, optimize production, maximize profitability and provide a safe product to the consumer. In striving to achieve these sometimes contradictory goals, one key ingredient that is often overlooked is a plant’s total air balance as related to positive room pressure. Many plants are aware that they may have unwanted condensation issues in a specific area but they may not be aware of the origination of the problem. Here we take a look at the importance of air flow in food production.
The integrity of safe food products can be related to proper airflow, room pressurization, balance and maintaining appropriate room conditions. No matter what the cause, processing plants are focused on avoiding the possibility of their products being exposed to and affected by dangerous microorganisms. Airborne bacteria such as listeriosis, salmonella and E. coli can be transferred from one room to another, as these particles can be picked up in the airstream and deposited elsewhere through the plant.
So one of the biggest challenges in any food production plant is establishing positive air pressure zones.
The air pressure zone with the highest positive pressure should be the area where the product is last exposed to open air.
Typically, food-processing facilities need about 20 to 25 air changes per hour in order to remove odours, steam and other airborne contaminants and filter them out of in the recycle process. The actual number of air turns depends on the type of processing taking place in the plant and must be designed by a competent HVAC engineer to fit the facility and the process.
For example, in meat processing plants air flow carries a high risk of airborne contaminants due to the presence of live animals and so great care must be taken to ensure that the air from kill floors and rendering areas, where raw poultry and meat are handled, must never flow to areas such as packaging, where the airborne bacteria could infect the final product.
One of the challenges, particularly with older plants, is that there is a lot of negative pressure created. In such situations whenever an outside door or window is opened, the incoming breeze brings air containing water, dust, chemicals, bacteria, mould, insects, off odours and other debris that can contaminate the food and food contact surfaces. With negative air pressure in the plant, the processor has absolutely no control over what the air in the facility contains since air not only enters through open doors, windows, etc., but also any cracks, crevices or other openings in the plant enclosure. Microorganisms exist in air as passengers, within moisture droplets and as isolated organisms. A continual influx of unfiltered air makes the overall cleaning and sanitation of the plant, equipment, overhead pipelines and other structural features much more difficult. Of course it can contaminate the products also.
Another airflow challenge in older or existing facilities is where the building has been added to without careful attention to air handling which can easily decrease airflow.
This is sometimes called “facility creep” where an exhaust fan might be added to deal with an odour issue or a new room is added.
In conclusion, the way in which food production facilities operate has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. New plants are being designed to maximize production and old plants are being renovated. Proper airflow has been recognized as a key component to a successful building design.