Food processing plants always have unique challenges that many other industrial facilities may not be used to. Keeping your plant functional and safe during winter conditions often requires bringing in additional equipment. Keep reading to learn why facilities need extra equipment and what types of rental equipment a food processing facility may need during the winter months.
Why Is Additional Equipment Needed?
Typically, there are two reasons for a food processing facility to require additional equipment during the winter: food safety and proper equipment function. Keeping food safe is the number one priority of any food processing facility. Not only can people become seriously ill, brands can be permanently tarnished if proper measures aren’t taken during production. Meeting production schedules also requires that the equipment and personnel are able to work efficiently. Winter weather can make that difficult.
When liquid water condenses on food during production, numerous undesirable things can occur. Packaging often degrades when wet, especially cardboard packaging. Product quality (and the shelf life of food) is decreased when exposed to liquid water. Most importantly, microorganism growth can occur when food in production is exposed to liquid water.
During the winter months, if the temperature gets too low in the production facility, water can condense on surfaces and drip onto the food product. Keeping the air in the facility dry, moving and warm is essential to preventing this.
People and machines are both affected by the cold. Those in food production are no exception. As the temperature goes down, the viscosity of many food products goes up. This can make it more difficult for machinery to process the food and can lead to losses in energy efficiency, decreased production rates or mechanical failures. People also lose dexterity when working in cold environments. Not only do people work more slowly, but they may make more mistakes. Keeping air warm allows people and machines to work better in food production facilities.
What Kind of Equipment Do We Need?
Food production facilities rent many different types of equipment during winter months. Determining what you need early, and locking in contracts, can help to ensure availability. Dehumidifiers, heaters, and air movers are the most common. Let’s look at each in detail.
Dehumidifiers work by removing moisture from the air. Not all food production facilities will need this type of equipment, but some absolutely will. As food, or the food production process, releases moisture into the air, the water vapor can condense as it touches cold surfaces. The condensed or liquid water then collects until it forms a drop, which can then potentially fall on food (which is never a good thing). Dehumidifiers help to prevent the liquid water from ever forming by pulling the moisture out of the air.
Everyone is familiar with what heaters do. For food production facilities, they not only keep the people and equipment warm and comfortable, they also help to prevent water from condensing on surfaces. As air is warmed, it is less likely to drop out moisture as it passes over cold surfaces. Many different types of heaters can be rented depending on the type and layout of the food production facility. Both electric and fuel-burning options exist, so consider which one is better suited for your facility.
Air movers may not seem all that important, but they serve a vital role in many industrial facilities. Air movers help to mix the air and prevent dead spots from forming. If a heater is only able to heat the air near it, then many heaters will be needed. Using air movers, in addition to larger heaters, allows the whole facility to be warmed. Keeping air moving also helps to prevent water from condensing on cold structures in the facility.
Ensuring food safety often means renting a combination of heaters, dehumidifiers and air movers. Having a plan and locking in rentals early ensures the best rates and equipment availability. For help determining what equipment best matches your food production facility’s needs, reach out to Tate - our knowledgeable team is ready to help.