January 14, 2019

The article discusses the impact of industrial internet of things (IIoT) on the food and beverage industry. It highlights the shift from manual processes to sensor-based automation, improving product quality, safety, and efficiency. IIoT enables real-time data collection and analysis, leading to data-driven decision-making and optimization of processes. The article also emphasizes the importance of connectivity, proper management of data, and integration of IIoT technologies with existing systems. It explores how IIoT benefits various aspects of production, packaging, and food safety. Additionally, it mentions the role of IIoT in product design, scalability, and flexibility in response to changing consumer demands.

January 11, 2019

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is transforming the food and beverage industry by leveraging connected sensors and controllers for improved processing and decision-making. Four key areas benefiting from IIoT include preventing recalls by detecting issues in real-time, ensuring consistency and accuracy in product quality through centralized recipes and procedures, optimizing packaging efficiency by detecting errors promptly, and enhancing communication between personnel and equipment. Despite the potential, widespread adoption and understanding of IIoT capabilities in the food manufacturing industry are still in progress.

December 27, 2018

Stellar, a construction firm specializing in food plants, provides seven ways to enhance security and safety at food and beverage facilities. These measures include utilizing berms to increase privacy and deter threats, installing fencing with barbed wire, implementing a single entrance to control access, utilizing security cameras for monitoring and recording, employing metal detectors to prevent concealed weapons, having on-site security guards, designing open floor plans to increase visibility, and establishing an emergency action plan and conducting regular training drills. These measures help protect the facility, its employees, and the food supply, and comply with government regulations.

December 26, 2018

As the adoption of robotics and automation increases in the food and beverage industry, it is crucial to follow best practices to ensure successful implementation. Consider factors such as robot accuracy, repeatability, maintenance objectives, product dimensions, materials, temperatures, throughput requirements, and weight when selecting suitable robots. Understanding the positioning and location requirements of incoming products before they enter the robot's work cell is also important. Choose the appropriate type of robot based on accuracy, available space, product movement distance, gripping requirements, and maintenance needs. Collaborate with robotics vendors to determine the best end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) options, such as bellows, fingers, jaws, switchable magnets, and vacuum cups, depending on the product type and rigidity. Simulations and demonstrations with equipment suppliers can help determine the optimal robotics configuration for unique products and assess performance under specific production conditions. Standardizing network protocols across the entire facility facilitates commissioning, troubleshooting, and daily operations, ensuring compatibility and ease of integration with the plant's IT infrastructure. Following these best practices maximizes the benefits of robotics and automation while minimizing implementation challenges.

December 26, 2018

Jacksonville University has purchased a 6.6-acre site from OLT II Inc. for $1.98 million to develop a health sciences building. The three-story, 105,000-square-foot building, referred to as Dolphin Reef, will be located at 3412 University Blvd., just north of the JU campus. It will house medical offices, orthodontics, audiology, speech clinic, kinesiology, and classrooms for students. Stellar Group Inc. is the construction company responsible for building the $20 million project at 5491 Dolphin Point Blvd. The building will accommodate the Keigwin School of Nursing, the School of Applied Health Sciences, and the School of Orthodontics, along with associated programs. Completion is expected by fall 2019.

December 10, 2018

Food and beverage processing facilities are increasingly adopting robotics and automation for cost reduction, improved throughput, and enhanced safety. To ensure a wise and efficient investment, consider these best practices:

1. Prioritize necessary specifications: Determine factors like robot accuracy, maintenance objectives, product dimensions, materials, temperatures, throughput requirements, and weight.

2. Select the appropriate robot type: Consider accuracy, available space, product movement distance, gripping requirements, and maintenance needs when choosing between cartesian coordinate, delta, or robotic arm robots.

3. Choose suitable end-of-arm tooling: Select the right gripper, such as bellows, fingers, jaws, switchable magnets, or vacuum cups, based on the rigidity and sensitivity of the product.

4. Conduct robot cell simulation: Use specialized software to simulate the robot's performance under production conditions, identifying stress points and maintenance needs over time for informed decision-making.

5. Ensure software and network integration: Standardize network protocols across the facility to streamline commissioning, troubleshooting, and daily operations, avoiding compatibility issues.

By following these practices, businesses can successfully implement robotics and automation into their facilities.

December 1, 2018

Shutting down older plants and expanding newer facilities can save costs by consolidating management and labor, driven by aging facilities and increased capacity needs. Plant expansion projects must address factors like hygienic design, automation, visibility, and energy efficiency. Compliance with sanitation regulations often requires facility expansion. A collaborative team environment and defined project scope are crucial. Maintaining production during expansion involves careful planning to prevent contamination. Upgrading utilities and employing laser scanning for accurate planning are essential. Packaging advancements cater to consumer preferences. Successful projects rely on open communication and trust among partners.

November 13, 2018

Drone technology is revolutionizing the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings. Drones offer various functions throughout the building's lifecycle, including assessing site conditions, aiding in site planning, capturing construction progress photos, performing 3D scans of existing structures, creating virtual building models, assisting with maintenance, and supporting marketing efforts. Using drones to assess greenfield sites provides a cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional aerial photography. Drones can also assist with earthwork calculations, helping owners and builders better understand the land and prepare for construction. In site planning and layout, drones' aerial images combined with site plans provide accurate and visual representations of the building's features and their placement on the site. This helps designers and owners visualize the project and accommodate geographic features and variables accurately. Drones play a crucial role in capturing construction progress photos. By comparing these photos with drawings, builders can monitor project adherence to the plan, identify discrepancies, and address them promptly, avoiding delays. Performing 3D scans of existing structures is another valuable application of drone technology. The high-resolution photos create accurate 3D point cloud models that aid in renovations and additions, allowing designers to develop models based on the real-world conditions. Drones contribute to creating virtual building models that can be experienced through virtual reality. Owners can visualize the finished product and understand spatial relationships, facilitating decision-making and design development. Drones continue to be useful post-construction for ongoing maintenance and damage assessment. Detailed data collected by drones helps owners plan future renovations, upgrades, and maintenance activities. Drones equipped with thermal imaging can detect building envelope leaks and identify potential problem areas. Lastly, drones offer unique marketing opportunities by capturing compelling videos and photographs that showcase buildings from inaccessible angles. These visuals can be used in marketing collateral, websites, and social media platforms. The use of drones in architecture, engineering, and construction has transformed the industry, saving time and costs. The technology continues to evolve, and there are ongoing research and exploration of new applications to harness the benefits of drones further.

November 5, 2018

The food manufacturing and construction industries are experiencing growth due to factors like tax reform and a strong economy. However, this presents challenges for food and beverage companies seeking construction services. To get the best price, it is important to set realistic timelines, plan ahead, and give contractors sufficient time to assemble estimates. Relying on past projects as budget benchmarks may not be accurate, as market conditions and project variables have changed. To mitigate risks, involving a construction firm early on is beneficial. Providing details about facility use, food safety, utilities, soft costs, and plant technology can lead to a more accurate construction budget and avoid unexpected expenses.

November 1, 2018

United States Cold Storage has opened a $35 million food distribution facility in Laredo, Texas. The 232,366-square-foot warehouse was designed and built by Stellar, a fully integrated firm specializing in design, engineering, construction, and mechanical services. The facility features a freezer area, cooler area, refrigerated loading dock, cross-dock area, refrigerated repack room, and office space. Stellar also incorporated future growth options in the site's master plan.

In a separate development, Dot Foods, the largest food industry redistributor in North America, has started construction on its twelfth distribution center in Bear, DE. The $36 million, 188,000-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in autumn 2019. Dot Foods plans to hire up to 125 employees in the first year of operation.

November 1, 2018

Starbucks, the international coffee brand, constructed a coffee roasting facility in Calhoun County, South Carolina, USA, in 2009. The 117,000 square foot plant, built by Stellar Construction and Engineering, required a $70 million investment and received silver LEED certification for its environmentally friendly features. The facility uses recycled materials, conserves energy and water, and utilizes wind energy. It receives coffee beans through the Port of Charleston, roasts them, and ships them to distribution centers. However, in 2009, Starbucks implemented cost-saving measures, leading to job cuts and operational changes at the roasting plant.

November 1, 2018

Dakota Provisions is a turkey processing facility established by Dakota Turkey Growers, a cooperative of 44 independent Hutterite turkey farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The $45 million plant, opened in April 2007, is the first full-line turkey facility built in the US since the late 1980s. It covers a 114-acre site and has a 150,000 square foot production facility capable of processing over eight million turkeys annually. The facility employs over 300 workers and specializes in processing heavy tom turkeys. The plant features advanced food safety and processing technologies, including Controlled Atmosphere Stunning for turkey harvesting. The construction was overseen by the Stellar Group, and MetalBud-Nowiki provided the equipment. The plant received financial support from the state of South Dakota and invested $12 million from the turkey growers. Dakota Provisions aims to produce deli breasts and pre-sliced luncheon meats under its own local brand and may expand into producing natural and organic products in the future.

October 16, 2018

The article discusses the importance of building management systems (BMS) in food and beverage plants for monitoring and controlling various elements of the facility. BMS can track and manage HVAC systems, lighting, plumbing, processing equipment, and security systems. Monitoring utility usage in these facilities can be done at three levels of granularity: building overall, panel level, and line-by-line. Investing in a monitoring system can provide benefits such as cost savings, sustainability, smarter growth, and proactive maintenance.

The article emphasizes that data monitoring systems, although initially costly, offer long-term value to food processors. They help reduce utility bills, improve sustainability efforts, aid in planning for expansion or new facilities, and facilitate proactive maintenance. Collecting and analyzing data can also reveal additional insights and patterns for better decision-making and predictive analytics. With the availability of Wi-Fi in more facilities, installing BMS has become easier and more cost-effective, making them prevalent in both new and existing plants.

October 8, 2018

According to a study by FMI Corporation, the use of design-build firms in construction projects is on the rise, with design-build now accounting for nearly half of all construction projects in the US. The study shows that design-build is expanding across sectors and regions, and owners who have used this project delivery method are more satisfied due to advantages such as innovation and quick speed to market. Key findings from the study include:

1. Growth in design-build spending: Design-build spending is expected to grow by 17% from 2018 to 2021, reaching a market share of 45% in the nonresidential construction market. The Mountain, Pacific, and South Atlantic regions are anticipated to have the highest growth rates in construction activity.

2. Increased interest in alternative construction methods: Changing project demands have led more owners to explore alternative methods like design-build. Factors influencing the choice of project delivery method include delivery schedule, owner goals and objectives, contractor experience, and initial cost. Over half of the owners surveyed plan to use design-build in the next five years.

3. High satisfaction with design-build: Owners reported excellent or very good experiences with design-build projects. The top benefits identified were increased opportunities for innovation, the ability to fast-track projects, a collaborative process, adherence to budget, and high-quality service. Design-build is increasingly used for smaller projects with budgets under $25 million.

As more owners become aware of the benefits of design-build, it is expected that this collaborative delivery method will continue to be utilized to streamline projects, save costs, and improve safety through innovative solutions.

September 20, 2018

Polypropylene-random (PP-R) piping was successfully used in a refrigeration project at an Ohio processing plant. The project involved the use of Aquatherm Blue Pipe® SDR 17.6 MF, ranging from 0.75 inches to 14 inches, to carry glycol as a secondary refrigerant throughout the facility. The lightweight and prefabrication capabilities of PP-R pipe allowed for time and labor savings during installation. The pipe's light weight made it easier to support and insulate, and its heat-fused connections eliminated the need for welding, reducing labor costs and safety risks. PP-R pipe also offers longer service life, corrosion resistance, and durability compared to carbon steel piping. Overall, PP-R pipe proved to be a reliable and efficient solution for the refrigeration project.