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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
It is critical that air handling units (AHUs) are included in all risk assessments and that their shutdown is part of the measures employed to control a fire when it breaks out.
Here we take a look at five important factors to consider when maintaining AHUs to ensure that any fire hazard is minimised.
Take a look at our info-graphic, Fire Hazards in Dirty AHU’s and 5 Things To Check:
The demand for food processing has reached an all-time high and will continue to grow, especially as the demand for fresh and mostly unprocessed foods rises. So what can food production plants do to to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene?
The Cornerstone in Prevention of Food Contamination
Depending on the hygiene requirements, the food plant should be zoned into at least three areas: B, M and H, standing for basic, medium and highest levels of hygiene, described in more detail below:
High hygiene ( high risk) zone
The highest level of hygiene must be maintained in these enclosed areas for the processing and packaging of products. A “High Hygiene” room, which, in food processing is the equivalent of a cleanroom, must be completely contained. This zone is typical for open processing, where even short exposure of product to the atmosphere can result in a food safety hazard All dangers that could lead to food contamination or microbial growth must be effectively controlled or prevented. The objective for H zones is to control all product contamination hazards and to protect the interior of food processing equipment from exposure to atmosphere. Filtered air must be supplied to this area.
Medium hygiene (high care) zone
The objective here is to directly control or reduce the potential sources of contaminants in order to protect food production from contamination. It includes process areas where products are produced that are susceptible to contamination, but where the consumer group is not especially sensitive and where no further microbial growth is possible in the product in the supply chain.
Basic hygiene (low risk) zone
This includes, for instance, areas where the packaged foods are stored and which therefore require only a basic level of hygiene. Examples of a Basic zone include the area outside the buildings within the perimeter of the site where the objective is to control or reduce hazards created by unauthorized personnel entry and hazards created by water, dirt, dust and presence of animals. Also Basic zones include warehouses that store both raw materials and packed processed products, offices, workshops, power supply areas, canteens and redundant buildings/rooms. The objective for a Basic zone is to control or reduce hazards created by birds and pests.
It is clear that in the food industry a hygienic production environment is critical for optimum processes and to meet with the relevant regulatory requirements and therefore the implementation of hygienic design into food processing facilities is vital.
Such an environment can prevent development of pests, avoid product contamination and facilitate cleaning and sanitation and preserve hygienic conditions both during and after maintenance.
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 of air filtration and ventilation contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much fresh air should be going into the food production area?
Effective air filtration and a good level of air hygiene are not only important to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment, but effective food production air handling is also essential to reduce or prevent the possibility of airborne contamination in High Care and High Risk Areas.
If we consider that outside air carries between 200 – 1500 bacteria per m3, then a regular food processing plant can be being supplied with millions of bacteria hourly. So it goes without saying that all food manufacturing and processing facilities require efficient air filtration and effective extraction and ventilation in a food factory. It is also necessary to ensure the air flow containment of these critical working areas.
Failure to install and maintain an effective and efficient air filtration system can lead to a loss of production and lost sales at best, and loss of consumer confidence and brand damage, not to mention potential litigation at worst.
So let us focus on High Risk areas in regard to filtration and ventilation in a food factory.
The management of air filtration within High Risk Areas is crucial to ensure that the air introduced does not contain micro-organisms of concern and not be the source of additional contamination.
There are certain aspects that need to be considered to maintain the recommended and required levels of ventilation in a food factory.
This includes extraction and filtration of the air in the High Risk environments:
- To establish the air quality standards that are required, it is important to carry out a hazard analysis (HACCP).
- Air intake (fresh air supply) needs to be located to minimise the intake of contaminated or re-contaminated air. For example, upwind of potential contaminants such as dust and chemical vapours.
- A documented risk assessment must be conducted to determine the requirement for air filtration.
- There is no ‘universal’ standard for air filtration. However, the filter grade required will depend on the source of the air and the period of exposure to high risk products and ingredients.
- Some accreditation schemes and governing bodies may have regulations in place with regards to a required grade of filtration.
- The effectiveness of the filter and system employed should be checked by the use of periodic sampling of the air, close to the outlet of the air ducts for microbiological quality.
- The air filter replacement frequency is just as important as the air filter specification. The buildup of dust, dirt and grease on air filters in the food production air handling system can result in re-circulation of contaminated air.
- Without regular cleaning, air will pass through the polluted duct carrying bacteria onto or around the food process areas. It is important to maintain a routine air duct and air handling cleaning schedule.
- Maintaining positive air pressure compared to adjacent areas, particularly where there is a connection with low risk areas.
Over the last decade, the food industry has seen a rapid evolution of food safety regulations. Many food manufacturers have had to make significant developments to processes, procedures and resources to remain compliant with regulations.
As a result of changing consumer habits and as rise in the demand for specially manufactured dietary foods, there is a continued growth in the ‘types’ of food manufacturing and processing facilities that we are seeing in the food industry. In many cases, each manufacturing process is different and requires a unique layout and organisation of a facility, which is centred around the specific production output.
Although this proves to benefit the consumer and reassures manufacturing quality, it does however mean that it isn’t easy to provide a ‘universal’ solution for individual food production air handling requirements.
On the other hand, it can be simplified, and overall the requirements for air handling in High Care and High Risk Areas can be defined as:
The inbound or fresh air supply into High Care and High Risk Areas needs to undergo sufficient filtration to reduce or prevent the risk of airborne contamination. And the air extraction mapping of the potentially contaminated air that is produced within the High Care and High Risk areas is filtered and distributed in a way that will help prevent cross contamination.
It is generally accepted that companies with well-planned preventive maintenance programmes enjoy the following benefits:
- minimal unplanned downtime
- minimal spare parts costs
- minimal manufacturing interruptions from breakdowns
- maximum manufacturing times
- maximum product quality
- longer machine life spans.
Traditionally that preventative maintenance was done at the weekend, when in the past the main production workforce didn’t work on the weekend. Or of they did, it was only for half a day on a Saturday, but for most, Sunday was a day off. Therefore, it made sense to have a maintenance shutdown at the weekend, or at least on a Sunday.
However, as we all know the world has changed with the working week moving from a 5-day week to a 7-day week, or continental shift patterns and factories are manned 24/7.
In many cases the weekend shutdown is simply not practical as many facilities cannot now distinguish between the weekday and the weekend. However, this change has led to a potential cost advantage for many manufacturing plants.
In the past, success of the weekend shutdown lay in planning and forecasting or foreseeing all the shutdown requirements including spare parts. However, when critical parts or equipment are unexpectedly required and the wholesalers or parts suppliers are closed for the weekend, this can be an issue. Also, in the case of critical parts, very often the number of suppliers is limited.
Specifically, in the food industry the production workforce is more flexible and works shift patterns allow the food manufacturer to run the production 24hrs per day, and in most cases 7 days a week where required.
This is then a real opportunity to move towards mid-week shutdowns with the following advantages:
- Allows the maintenance teams a greater ability to meet the unsuspected need of specific parts.
- Reduces the need for a larger stock of critical parts as they would be available next day from wholesalers and suppliers that are open Monday – Friday
- Cheaper freight and carriage costs
- Cheaper labour costs
It makes sense to embrace the mid-week shutdown for sound economic reasons, but there is also a benefit to the maintenance teams in terms of work/life balance, as it would give them the opportunity to spend their weekends with their families.
As the scholar and teacher Forest E Witcraft once wrote, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”
To find out more about how HVDS can help you in planning your shutdown contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or email@example.com.
On the 62nd anniversary of the first Clean Air Act, a Bill which seeks to establish Clean Air as a legal human right, has been read for the first time in the House of Lords.
Introduced by the Green Party peer Baroness Jenny Jones, the draft legislation sets out a series of commitments for government to tackle air pollution This includes enshrining a ‘right to clean air’ within law.
The full text of the Bill reads: “A Bill to establish the right to breathe clean air; to require the Secretary of State to achieve and maintain clean air in England and Wales; to involve Public Health England in setting and reviewing pollutants and their limits; to enhance the powers, duties and functions of the Environment Agency, the Committee on Climate Change, local authorities (including port authorities), the Civil Aviation Authority, Highways England, Historic England and Natural England in relation to air pollution; to establish a Citizens’ Commission for Clean Air with powers to institute or intervene in legal proceedings; to require the Secretary of State and the relevant national authorities to apply environmental principles in carrying out their duties under this Act and the clean air enactments; and for connected purposes.”
However, before the draft legislation can be passed into law it would require support from both the Lords and the House of Commons, passing through varying stages of scrutiny along the way.
Commenting on the draft legislation earlier this year, Baroness Jones said: “I’m very excited by the idea of the Clean Air Bill making the right to healthy air a human right. We should all enjoy clean air even when we are working in a busy city, or living under an airport flight path. I hope that people will add their ideas to this Bill and support my attempt to push the Government into action.
“There are big debates coming up this year as we need to replace the European environmental safeguards with tough UK laws and enforcement. I think this Bill contains some key proposals which could make us world leader for environmental regulation.” Clean Air in London, the air quality campaign group led by Simon Birkett, has collaborated with Baroness Jones to draft the Bill.
The proposed law also has support from environmental lawyer, ClientEarth lawyer Katie Nield said: “There is an urgent need for government, especially as the UK prepares to leave the EU, to come up with new consolidated legislation that protects people’s right to breathe clean air and provides a stronger and clearer framework for action to tackle air pollution. This new proposal should prompt further, much-needed debate on the topic.
The UK is still suffering day to day with illegal and harmful levels of air pollution and ClientEarth has long been calling for a new Clean Air Act which is fit for the 21st century. With the second bill on the subject now being presented, momentum is building.”
HVDS provide a range of high quality, energy efficient air filtration, ventilation, air handling and air extraction products, including HVAC air filters.
HVDS – Your Trusted Partner In Clean Air.
Plant shutdowns, also known as turnarounds, are one of the most critical times in the operation of a plant.
Shutdowns have a profound ability to affect the plant’s financial future in either a positive or negative way. A shutdown that is poorly planned, exceeds its deadline, or goes past its budget can negatively impact the plant’s bottom line. A plant turnaround that is well planned and executed can positively affect the plant and have it running within capacity for years.
So, what are the objectives of a maintenance shutdown?
Primarily there are two main objectives:
- Maintaining & Improving Equipment Capacity
- Maintaining Equipment for Life
But there are also important sub objectives including:-
- Using and encouraging support from all areas of the operations
- Encouraging input and buy in from all employees
- Using teams to develop the principles of “Kaizen” or continuous improvement
As previously referenced the financial implications of a shutdown need to be carefully considered, particularly with reference to costs.
Plant Shutdown Costs
The costs for a plant shutdown are calculated in two areas:
1. The cost to repair and replace equipment
2. The cost of ceasing operations for an extended period of time.
It is estimated that shutting down a plant for a few weeks can cost the plant’s entire maintenance budget for a year. However, the costs for not undergoing a planned shutdown can be even far higher. This includes any or all of the following:
- Cost of repair or replacement of a faulty piece of equipment that fails unexpectedly
- Cost to repair or replace equipment damaged created by a failure elsewhere.
- Cost to clean or replace the plant/equipment should toxic chemicals be spilled for example
- Undergoing a cessation of plant activities for an extended period of time
- Cost of fines or penalties should any operational or environmental regulations be violated
- Cost of an incident or accident in the plant
- Cost of any injury to workers as a result of equipment failure
- Cost in legal fees should any liability issues arise
The Five Phases of a Shutdown
Things to note in the planning phase include: shutdowns are highly susceptible to scope creep, a commonly overlooked step in the planning phase is the review of lessons learned during previous shutdowns and your budget must allow for the unpredictable nature of shutdowns.
The most critical and time-consuming of the phases and the team should determine the order in which things will be done, who is responsible for what, and the detailed workflow logistics. This involves the entire shutdown team: internal staff (maintenance, engineering, facility management, and procurement), external engineers, contractors, and vendors.
In addition to the procurement of equipment and materials, this phase includes the bidding or negotiation of contracts with all necessary consultants, contractors, and vendors.
This is when your plans are put into action and despite your best efforts of planning and preparation there will be some surprises, especially when machinery is opened for inspection. Again , good practice is try and anticipate some of the possible scenarios and have to hand relevant parts or resources to mitigate some of this risk
5. Return to Service
Hand-off is a process that ensures that outstanding matters affecting the startup have been addressed. Startup is essentially an operational function. However, it should be coordinated closely with the shutdown team to ensure proper support resources are available.
After equipment is operational, ramp-up can begin. Ramp-up is the interval between startup and normal operating run rates and capacities.
There is perhaps one other phase, and arguably the most important – evaluation.It is good practice to conduct an evaluation meeting to review the shutdown in its entirety. The agenda should include KPIs/metrics, cost, schedule,contractor management, shutdown to start-up and ramp-up, critical path and major tasks review, and best practices and lessons learned.
The lessons learned element should pave the way for more efficient shutdowns in the future.
Maintenance of Evaporative Coolers is very important, and it is recommended that the air cooling unit is cleaned every 6 months.
Consideration should be given to the following points when checking and maintaining your evaporative cooling units. To ensure they are in good working order you should be looking at the following:-
1. Fly screens:
Fly screens should be cleaned without chemical cleaners.
2. Check the configurations:
Be sure to take a look at the configuration of the evaporative cooler parameters and dip switches.
3. Examine and replace if necessary:
Make sure that you examine all moving parts, including valves, pumps, hoses, solenoids and joints for leakage and malfunction. Replace as necessary.
4. Water Isolation
Water Isolation should take place in autumn to prevent pipes and valves freezing. Turning off the water is necessary to stop damage to the cooler and the building.
5. Winter Service:
You should consider a Winter Service – the idea behind this being to avoid any problems through frost damage.
6. Legionella Risk Assessment:
After the evaporative cooling maintenance of units has been carried out, and there are no issues of concern outstanding, it is important to consider a legionella risk assessment.
The HVDS range of evaporative coolers are the only known design to have a built in legionella protection system that is fail safe.
At HVDS we can provide comprehensive evaporative cooling maintenance and service agreements. For more information and advice on evaporative coolers contact us at HVDS on 01785 256976 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our latest Clean Air Day series update, we take a look at the importance of Indoor Air Quality, as well as answering some frequently asked questions regarding indoor air pollution and IAQ in the workplace.
What can affect Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor sources of air pollution are not always considered; however, it has been found that a number of sources emitting a variety of substances include:
- gas cookers
- cleaning products
- damp and mould
- cigarette smoke
- carbon monoxide
It is thought that indoor pollutants may cause several thousand deaths per year in the UK, and the experts felt that this was an area to be studied further.
How big of a problem is indoor air pollution?
If we consider that humans breathe around 3,000 gallons of air each day, and that 90% of our time is spent indoors, then we should not be surprised that it’s the indoor pollutants that are more likely to get people sick, causing symptoms such as fatigue and headaches. These pollutants can be found all throughout the home and can be naturally occurring, like mould, or come from chemicals in synthetic products.
Studies of air quality in buildings have found that levels of a number of pollutants are commonly higher indoors than outside. Recent research has highlighted that chemicals released indoors that leave the building by ventilation are a significant source of pollution of the outdoor air in urban areas.
How does indoor air pollution affect our health?
The effects of indoor air pollutants range from short-term effects, eye and throat irritation for example, to long-term effects – respiratory disease and cancer. Exposure to high levels of some pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, can even result in immediate death. Also the effects of indoor air pollution might not come to light until many years after exposure.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help to reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. However, there is common consent that there needs to be more research done to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and other buildings, and which occurs from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time.
Is indoor air pollution a concern in workplaces?
Workplaces have a lot of similar air quality issues to homes, although the exact pollutant mix will depend on the building characteristics and the nature of the work being carried out. There are legal standards for a range of chemicals and dusts in workplace air but these largely address industrial rather than office environments.
For all situations, good ventilation and good maintenance of equipment are really important to keeping levels of indoor air pollution as low as possible. Of growing interest is the impact of the indoor environment (including air quality) on the well-being and performance of the workforce.
“As worker salaries dominate the cost of most businesses, the potential benefits for achieving an indoor environment that is both good for people and profits are increasingly a topic of board level discussion” says Dr. Derrick Crump, an expert and researcher into indoor air quality.
In our next update we will look at how Indoor Air Pollution can be reduced, and what can be done to improve Indoor Air Quality in a range of settings.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. They believe that by reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma.
A powerful statement, but what is more, it is estimated that outdoor air pollution caused more than three million premature deaths worldwide in 2015, and researchers at King’s College London have recently confirmed that high levels of toxic air from traffic are linked with an alarming increase in deaths and illnesses from heart and respiratory diseases in children and younger adults.
Now, to put some of this into perspective from a UK point of view, the majority of premature deaths caused by ambient air pollution are in low to middle income countries. However, we cannot be ignorant to the impact of air pollution, as most of us are breathing sub standard air even though, according to DEFRA, in the thirty years from 1970 there has been a decrease in UK emissions of air pollutants including ammonia, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter.
So what exactly is Air Pollution?
Air pollution can be either indoor (IAQ), and more about this in a later blog, or ambient (outdoor). There are 4 key pollutants that the WHO considers critical:
Particulate Matter (PM)
PM is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in the air and affects us more than any other pollutant, and according to the WHO the smaller the particle the more dangerous to us. They state that, “The most health damaging particles are those with a diameter of 10 microns or less which can penetrate and lodge deep inside the lungs. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.”
We need to distinguish between ozone on the atmosphere and ozone at ground level, the latter being of concern. This forms when sunlight reacts with air pollutants and so it is not surprising when we hear of surges in asthma attacks and breathing problems during hot sunny weather.
Nitrogen dioxide is a product of combustion, that is the burning of fuel for heat and power and this can have an adverse effect on lung function, especially in children with asthma. In fact there has been considerable publicity recently about a crackdown on wood burning stoves – it is at the centre of a Government drive to reduce air pollution as ministers deem it the UK’s biggest environmental threat to human health.
Under a new clean air strategy to be announced at the end of May 2018, wood burners that pump out too much smoke will be banned from sale, along with certain types of car tyres and brakes, cleaning solvents, fertilisers and solid fuels.
A colourless gas released when sulphur containing fossil fuels are burned to produce heat and power – another issue with wood burners perhaps. High levels of sulphur dioxide can cause problems such as breathing difficulties, eye irritation and health complications for people who suffer from cardiovascular diseases.
How can we protect ourselves from air pollution?
Well, you could check the DEFRA Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) to check levels of air pollution in your area and what actions (if any) you should take.
DEFRA applies the DAQI to its air quality forecasts to tell you what pollution levels are predicted to be the next day.
The overall air pollution index for a site or region is determined by the highest concentration of five pollutants:
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Particles < 2.5µm (PM2.5)
- Particles < 10µm (PM10)
What about wearing masks outdoors to combat air pollution?
We see more and more cyclists and pedestrians wearing air pollution masks nowadays, especially in our major cities, but are they effective? Studies in this are varied, but a study of pedestrians in a high pollution area in China concluded that there was shown to be lower blood pressure in mask wearers vs non mask wearers. However, in order to be effective, a mask needs to fit properly and have sub micron filters to filter those particularly harmful small particles.
In summary, air pollution is not a new problem in the UK, but over the years our perspective on the health risks has changed.
There had previously been a focus on pollution from solid fuel burning, such as coal – which, as a result, fell dramatically. However, this has been replaced by concerns about exposure to pollutants from transport sources, especially cars. Even the “cleanest” of engines can produce nitrogen oxides, ozone and particulates – small specks of matter, such as soot. All three may have a potentially harmful effect on health.
The second national Clean Air Day 2018 will take place on the 21st June, led by the environmental charity Global Action Plan.
Businesses, organisations and volunteers, are being asked to take part in improving the air quality of the UK by committing to try a clean air action for the first time.
Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan who helps to organise Clean Air Day says, “Improving the quality of the air we breathe requires millions of people to decide to travel differently around our cities and town, so it is hoped that the event will inspire people to take the decision to try something different – and pollution free – on this Clean Air Day.”
Here are some things we could all try – even if, in the words of the song, it’s just for one day!
- Challenge work colleagues to take part in a virtual meeting to cut-down unnecessary driving. Do you really all need to be sitting in the same room?
- Potted plants are an excellent way to catch common indoor pollutants, so organise a plant swap or sale
- Owners of electric cars are being asked to take a friend for a spin in an effort to convert 100,000 more drivers to an electric vehicle next time they upgrade
Air pollution is real, and harms the health of millions. But there are lots of simple things we can do to improve air quality and look after our own, and other people’s health.
Clean Air Day is a chance to find out more about air pollution – both inside building and outdoors – share information with friends and colleagues, and help make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.
Throughout the month of June we’ll be exploring more Clean Air topics, along with how it affects the workplace, the food industry, and what can be done to preserve air quality both indoor and outdoor.
The fan unit that drives the fresh air and the exhaust air stream is the key to an HVAC system and typically one of the biggest users of energy. In a food processing environment, fans have to be reliable, quiet and energy efficient.
In this article we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of belt driven vs. direct driven fans.
A HVAC system with a direct drive blower is when the blower motor is connected directly to the fan. As the motor operates and turns the shaft, the fan moves accordingly.
In an HVAC system with a belt drive, the movement of the fan is not directly related to the rotation of the motor shaft. Instead, the motor shaft is connected to a belt, and the belt is connected to the fan. As the motor operates and the shaft rotates, it turns the belt, which in turn rotates the fan.
Both systems have benefits and drawbacks, so let’s take a closer look.
- Offer greater flexibility in terms of RPM speed
- Motor is outside of airstream (high temp. applications)
- Cost generally cheaper- and easier to repair
- Transmission losses
- More maintenance required. Belts require tightening and eventual replacement.
- Belt residue requires regular cleaning.
- Noise – if belt driven fans aren’t perfectly aligned noise is an issue
- More efficient
- Little to no maintenance
- Less vibration than belt drive
- Fewer points of failure
- Reduced weight; more compact
- Lesser flexibility compared to belt driven fans.
- May be more expensive when similar direct drive and belt driven fans are compared side-by-side.
Looking at a couple of the bullet points highlighted above in more detail: maintenance and efficiency.
Direct drive does not rely on a belt to operate the fan and so with a belt drive configuration, maintenance and replacement of parts can become more of a concern, as the belt will wear out with time and overuse, leading to higher expenses in the long run.
In addition, a direct drive configuration is also more efficient than a belt drive system due to the friction involved with the multiple moving parts and a loss of power overall. Research has shown that direct drive configurations have a reported efficiency margin of around 80 percent, compared to the belt drive system of around 60 percent.
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These products provide cooling for commercial and industrial applications at a fraction of the cost of traditional air conditioning systems. Manufactured with market leading legionella safety functions, the HVDS range of evaporative coolers offer a superior quality and reduced maintenance costs.
Visit us on stand S331 to find out more!
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 email@example.com
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) can be affected by various factors:
- Gases such as carbon monoxide or radon
- Contaminants such as mold
- Improper or inadequate ventilation
All of these factors can be present in a supermarket, which are complex buildings, especially with regard to heating and ventilation, and they can all affect Indoor Air Quality. On the one hand they require tight humidity controls to prevent frost build up, for example in the refrigerated aisles. However, that leads to cool/cold air being spilled across the aisles thereby creating a cold, unwelcoming environment for the consumer.
So, being able to lower the humidity whilst maintaining a pleasant temperature is a challenge. Especially when supermarkets must strive to create an environment that is comfortable for the shopper and safe for the worker.
Take this scenario for example: while you are controlling humidity in a supermarket, you also have to deal with ventilation air requirements.This is especially important in supermarkets that have an in-house bakery. When you have bakeries, you have more exhaust air, so you need ventilation air to make up for that exhaust.Supermarkets also have open food on the deli, fish and meat counter. In addition, it is also vital to maintain a healthy IAQ in the building, so you want adequate exhaust air. And this is all going on whilst trying to maintain a good aesthetic and environment for the shopper.
A further challenge is that supermarkets are wanting to maintain IAQ but with minimum energy use, especially as spiralling energy costs are creating serious financial challenges in a very competitive sector. It is worth remembering that supermarkets use four to five times more energy per square foot than any other type of commercial building.
Interestingly, most of the narrative – articles in trade press etc. – is about energy savings and cost control rather than discussion around environmental factors and the impact of IAQ, and perhaps that needs to change.
Indeed, whilst it is well reported that outdoor air pollution can be, and is harmful to one’s health, there is little attention given to indoor air quality in the same way. So, why are some supermarkets not giving this issue careful consideration, outside of the energy saving and cost reduction agenda? ? Why is it where filters are used, the unit cost of filters is the most important rather than quality and the right filter?
This leaves many with the question – Is it possible to maximize energy efficiency and cost savings, while providing an indoor air quality that satisfies consumers and staff, as well as ensuring food safety at the right temperature and humidity?
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.