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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this infographic we take a simple look at The Hygiene Zone Concept, and what is high risk, high care & low risk.
As with most things in life – you get what you pay for and this is certainly true when it comes to air filters. In this update we will explore this important question:
Is it ok to use cheap air filters in the food industry?
Air filters are needed to protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution. People’s exposure to both indoor air, and outdoor air pollution that infiltrates buildings, can be controlled and dramatically reduced by well designed and well maintained HVAC systems, using the right selection of air filters.
Quality low-energy air filters may cost a little more, but their longer term benefits pay off in terms of:
- reduced energy consumption
- higher Indoor Air Quality IAQ
- fewer filter changes
- less waste
- better health
However, it’s not just about the quality of the filter – a visual inspection of an AHU can often find issues such as dirty or damaged filters, incorrectly fitted filters and wrong size filters, so inspection checklists should always include criteria for a visual inspection of filters first.
However, why pay more for higher quality air filters?
Well in most cases better quality filters can reduce the operating cost of a ventilation system by 15-20% through pressure drop control and using overall less energy. However, the challenge is now not just about cost savings but also indoor air quality (IAQ) targets.
This involves greater responsibility for organisations and could have consequences for public health: the risk is that professionals could forget that the primary role of ventilation is to create a good indoor environment and especially good IAQ. This is especially important in environments like supermarkets.
Most experts agree that the “tighter” a building is, the more important the ventilation becomes to prevent adverse effects from mould, excessive humidity and above all, the accumulation of harmful pollutants inside the buildings.
So air filtration as a critical component of building energy performance.
Finally, a word on health. It has been found that HEPA filters reduce cardiovascular health risks associated with air pollution. According to researchers from Canada, they found that high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters reduced the amount of airborne particulate matter, resulting in improved blood vessel health and reductions in blood markers that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. (Source American Thoracic Society)
For more information and advice on the impact air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The demand for synthetic fibre filters is growing in comparison to fibreglass filters, and with good reason.
Synthetic fibre air filter media can be used in most atmospheric air or recirculated air filtration applications and are particularly well suited for the ventilation of offices, factories, airports and food processing plants.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Synthetic Fibre Filters and Glass Fibre Filters:
Many different industries need to achieve the highest possible standard of air quality in order to minimize and eliminate various airborne pathogens that could cause anything from food contamination to chemical exposure.
It stands to reason then that when making decisions about which filters to invest in, companies to need to take into account environmental factors as well as performance.
Synthetic filters are environmentally friendly, easy to incinerate, and are low-cost with a limited effect on the environment. And in terms of performance, with synthetic fibres having a greater dust holding capacity, it is a competitive performer.
Synthetic filters make good sense for your business, for the health of your personnel, and for the environment.
Over the past years various tests have been carried out both in laboratories and in live applications. All results point to synthetic filters as the safer and better alternative especially in the food industry.
HVDS is a trusted UK supplier of a range of high quality, energy efficient air filters and air handling products. Our products include HVAC air filters, HEPA filters, carbon 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 email@example.com.
Food contamination by microorganisms is a major public health and economic problem in the food processing industry. Airborne bacteria and contamination can occur at various points of the food production process, for example in the slaughter process, cold storage, and in the processing of meat and other foodstuffs.
Organisms can use air as a transport medium to either contaminate product surfaces directly, or to contaminate contact surfaces, and therefore it is clear that the air inside food production plants needs to be controlled.
Simple practices such as keeping doors closed or controlling employee traffic can be essential in controlling air contamination.
However, there is more to it than that and below are the factors we believe are pertinent when considering control of airborne bacteria in the processing environment.
- Doors: Doors should remain closed as much as practical. This will prevent entrance of excess outside air and fluctuation of ambient temperature and humidity. (see below) However, this is easier said than done especially in areas of heavy traffic but in those instances it is essential that door maintenance is up to date.
- Employee Traffic: The area of highest employee traffic is the point at which the most people are moving in and out of the room during the day and as people carry a number of microorganisms on their person it is not surprising that movement of staff and other personnel, outside contractors for example, is associated with higher contamination levels.
- HVAC Fan Operation: HVAC fan operation causes increased air flow and that air flow will affect air contamination and, in the absence of a means of separation, for example a wall, microorganisms may be moved by the air flow into clean areas. The use of correctly selected and installed air filtration installed into the HVAC system will reduce the amount of airborne bacteria.
- Ambient Temperature: Maintaining cool temperatures is very important as most bacteria thrive in temperatures higher than that which you’d use for refrigeration. Likewise, any increase in ambient temperature also heightens the survival of airborne bacteria.
- Ambient Humidity: An increase in humidity increases the likelihood of survival of microorganisms in the air. Humidity can increase in a food production facility from the entrance of outside or warm air into a much cooler environment and vise versa.
Other elements such as the time of the year or time of day, as well as the external temperature and humidity, should also be taken into account although these cannot be controlled.
It is also worth noting that as the working day progresses, the amount of air contamination increases, and likewise as the working week progresses, there is an increase in the overall contamination of air with bacteria.
So what are some of the controls that we can put in place to regulate the air conditions in food processing plants?
- Make sure that doors are kept closed at all times 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.
- Correctly pressurised rooms with the air cascade working in the right direction from the highest risk area to the lowest risk areas will also reduce the bacteria count based on the correct ventilations system set up.
- Route traffic around the processing area rather than through it to reduce contamination.
- Ensure your HVAC units are in good working order and consistently maintaining temperature. Routine, regular maintenance is essential.
- Install recirculating air filtration units to help reduce the amount of bacteria and molds in the atmosphere.
HVDS provide a range of high quality, energy efficient air filtration, ventilation, air handling and air extraction products, including HVAC air filters.
For more information and advice on the impact air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The air in your food production factory is ambient air that has been compressed and then filtered through your facility. Because it comes from outside, this air contains:
- Liquid oil
- Oil aerosols
- Oil vapour
Note: Oil that is compressed with your air can contain vapours from surrounding car and industrial exhausts.
Particles pulled in with your air can leak through your air system’s cracks and weak spots within the compressor. Some of these weak spots might include:
- Worn seals
As compression raises the temperature of the air, water vapour is used as a cooling agent. This vapour can produce rust and corrosion that mixes with the air that is then filtered throughout your facility. Water condensate and warm compressed air provide an ideal environment for microbiological growth, spores and mold.
How can you detect contaminated air?
There is currently no regulatory standard for the minimum cleanliness of compressed air in food plants. The most common standard regarding compressed air is ISO8573.1-2010). The specifications for the air standard can be seen in the table below.
2 ways to prevent contaminated air in your food factory
1. Keep the air as dry as possible—Before pumping the air through your factory, remove as much moisture as possible. The ideal dew point is -40℉. Most facilities have a large dryer that can achieve this level of dryness. Monitor your dryer’s performance regularly to ensure that it can reach this temperature specification.
2. Use a two-stage filtration system—Ensure your facility is using proper filters to prevent microorganisms appearing in the air and traveling through your plant.It is recommended to instal a two-stage filter system as close as possible to the point of use. For some plants, a three-stage filter system may be necessary.
It is worth noting that not all filters are equal. HEPA filters are high-efficiency air filters that are up to 99.99 percent effective at catching particles as small as 0.03 microns. However, the microorganisms that can travel through your air system and contaminate your food are even smaller. To ensure contaminated compressed air is not flowing through your plant, install a filter at the final stage of point-of-use filtration that has a rating of 0.01 micron with a 99.99 percent efficiency rating. Look for air filters that continuously drain liquids and can catch microorganisms and oils.
Investing in a strong filtration system can lead to contaminate-free air, resulting in improved shelf life, reduced recalls and enhanced food quality and safety. A clean compressed air system keeps your entire food facility safe and healthy.
The main purposes of a Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system are to help maintain good indoor air quality through adequate ventilation with filtration and provide thermal comfort.
The following guide will help engineers to ensure they know what to look for when inspecting ventilation systems.
It’s clear that poorly maintained HVAC systems can become a breeding ground for bacteria, mold spores,dust, pollen, and odour-causing particulate matter. Simply changing the filters on an HVAC system is not enough to give adequate protection from the effects of contaminated indoor air.
We are all aware of the terms, “indoor air quality” (IAQ) and it is fair to say that most IAQ problems are caused by inadequate ventilation, a source of pollution or a combination of the two. So, how do we keep ventilation systems in effective working order?
1.Inspection of the ventilation system will usually start with a visual check of all the equipment (e.g. dampers, protective devices against weather, insects and rodents, the hygiene of the coils, fans and insulation, the presence of water and condition of condensate drain pans and humidifier reservoirs).
a. Frequency of Inspection – at least once a week for signs of damage or faults. A smoke test can quickly determine if the outside air is entering the system
2.Check the equipment thoroughly which should include:
a. Filters and Belts – Your employees and customers need to function in a clean, clear environment, and when the air filters and belts start to wear out, the atmosphere in your facility can become compromised. Regular inspection of these components lets you know if anything requires replacement before they become too damaged to function.
b. Coils – It’s important to make sure all coils are free of debris so they function properly. Build up of dust and particles over time could impair your equipment and cause problems that require you to replace units prematurely.
c. Calibration – When you set temperature controls to a certain level, you want the air to reflect the settings and so, calibration ensures that what you set is, what you get.
d. Inspection of Wiring –An obvious one but checking the wiring during regular maintenance to make sure everything is properly connected is a “no brainer”
e. Ductwork –. It’s always a good idea to clean your duct work regularly and check for infestation and clogs as there could be a risk of mold forming.
f. Thermostats – Depending on the size of the workspace, there could be one or several thermostats situated throughout the building so keep an eye on your thermostats and lo
ok for anomalies.
3. Periodic Systems Checks
a. Perform these monthly, or as needed to meet the demands of the business.
b. Check thermostat operation. If your thermostats are not operating correctly throughout the season, your HVAC systems could be running more frequently than necessary and thereby increasing energy costs. If thermostats are not working properly, have them repaired or replaced.
c. Check drip pan and drain lines. Clogs in HVAC systems’ drainage lines can cause moisture to back up into your building, causing mold and mildew growth as well as the potential for damage. Make sure the drip pan and drain lines are emptying correctly and remove any obstructions that develop.