Food production lines take clean, harvested or slaughtered components and transform them into marketable food products. They are a crucial part of the modern food industry and can be found all over the world.
The food processing production cycle is divided into several stages, each fulfilling a specific function and grouped by unit operations. These include:
Food production is a multistage process that takes raw ingredients and turns them into something we can eat. The first step is producing the raw ingredients, and then processing them into their final form.
This includes reducing the size of solid food particles, sterilization and other chemical treatments. Packaging is also used to protect the product and extend its shelf life. There are numerous professional societies and member organizations in the United States and internationally that create standards, regulations, training, certifications, publications, newsletters and host conferences to benefit those involved in the food manufacturing industry.
Today, retailers and consumers are challenging manufacturers to produce a more varied array of products. This requires flexibility and speed, which can be accomplished through modularization. For example, connecting a dispensing module to a biscuit line can enable the factory to produce chocolate coated and plain versions of the same product without adjusting the rest of the machine. This is the kind of modularization that many food producers are turning to for increased efficiency and agility.
Food production line equipment encompasses processing machines and components that cook, handle, package, or prepare food or food products. Such equipment executes various unit operations within the overall food processing production cycle such as separating, baking, mixing, freezing, washing, and sealing.
Preparatory unit operations are one of the most important aspects of a food manufacturing process, especially for producers that produce canned foods or beverages. The main function of such units is to ensure that the quality and quantity of raw materials meet certain standards before it can be subjected to mechanical or chemical processing.
The best way to improve product quality is to invest in food-grade equipment that follows FDA and other regulatory guidelines for hygienic construction, sizing, lubrication, integration of automation or analytical components, and the use of standard parts for ease of maintenance. This helps to reduce operating costs and promote consistent nominal production. It also helps manufacturers to beat competition through prototyping efficiency and effectiveness.
Food safety is essential for the health of workers and consumers. If even one contaminated product makes its way to customers, businesses will be slapped with costly lawsuits and reputation damage. Fortunately, strict regulatory compliance and quality control measures can be achieved with proper sanitation and equipment maintenance.
Personnel must be properly trained on personal hygiene practices and food production procedures. In addition, employees should have access to personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, face masks, and hair nets when handling hazardous substances or working with dangerous machinery.
Automating as much of the dangerous tasks in the factory as possible will minimize injuries to personnel and reduce labor costs. Moreover, this can also increase overall output. Lastly, regular inspections of the plant and its facilities should be conducted to ensure that they are clean and sanitary. Also, any broken equipment should be promptly repaired.
The choice of packaging for a new food product has many implications, from product safety and shelf life to consumer messaging and branding. These decisions also have significant impacts on the packaging process itself:
For example, a new food production line may start with a container that isn’t big enough for all of your brand and nutrition information, or you may find that the bottle doesn’t offer sufficient real estate for an attractive design. Label regulations may also affect the amount of space you can reserve for ingredients, allergens, and other important information.
A knowledgeable conveyor system vendor will help you understand all of these nuances and recommend the right equipment for your operation. They can recommend systems that are energy efficient, highly connected and designed with future expansion in mind. They may even have software that can calculate instantaneous drive torque or provide real-time information on conveyor load per hour. This data is invaluable for improving your overall operational efficiency and for achieving OEE goals.
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