Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Processing and Packaging Equipment

 
 
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 Selection of equipment | Considerations of design

Food processing equipment is used for sorting, cleaning (food and equipment), cutting, heating, cooling, mixing, moving, packaging, mastering and palletizing. Equipment is expensive so careful consideration should be given to the cost/benefit of capitalization. Is the savings or efficiency of using equipment sufficient to offset its cost in a reasonable period of time, as compared to the cost of employing more labor?

Selection of Equipment

Equipment suppliers can be found in trade magazines and directories. The selection of equipment must be based on the processing volume required, allowing for growth and the capacity of the equipment available. For example, high speed packaging equipment (300 packages per minute),

is not appropriate for a company processing only 300 packages per day. Smaller volume, low speed continuous or batch equipment may be available. Small manufacturers may find the following sources most appropriate:

  • restaurant and food service equipment
  • small-scale equipment designed for pilot scale processing
  • custom made equipment
  • create what you need with the help of a handy person and some basic equipment
  • used equipment
Suppliers may have equipment for rent or loan to test its compatibility with your product/process. They may also have a test facility where you can do a test run.

In considering the purchase or development of new equipment, consider the compatibility of the equipment with your current processing line. Ensure it is able to handle the production volume of the future as well as today. Ideally, it should be able to fill needs on more than one product line.

Considerations of Design

Processing and packaging equipment is chosen based on its ability to perform the function required, at the rate needed. Equally as important, and often overlooked, is the ability to easily and effectively clean the equipment.

Some basic sanitary considerations in choosing equipment are:
  • Contact surfaces should be inert to cleaning and sanitizing chemicals, and food.
  • Surfaces should be smooth, non-porous and readily cleanable.
  • Stainless steel is the best material for equipment. Grade 18-8 is the most common as it resists corrosion and is easy to weld. The dairy industry has established 3-A standards of equipment construction, which guides design, and construction for sanitary processing activities.
  • Aluminum, due to its light weight, is commonly used for utensils and pans. Be aware that it is easily pitted with alkaline cleaners and chlorine (from cleaners and sanitizers) making it difficult to clean. Cleaners should be carefully chosen.
  • Brass, copper and aluminum are not commonly recommended as they promote reactions leading to off-flavors, color changes and rancidity.
  • Wood should not be used, as it is porous and not readily cleaned or sanitized.
  • Cast iron and black iron have little strength and poor resistance to corrosion, making them difficult to clean.
  • Plastics must be carefully selected to ensure that no migration of the polymer into the food takes place causing off-flavor to the product. This is especially true for operations involving heat.
  • Bearings should be “outboard” of the process stream to prevent grease and filth from entering food.
  • Electrical connections should not be over the product stream and should be waterproof.
  • With used equipment, check for corroded metal, rusted or rough welds or joints, cracked or worn gaskets and o-rings, and wearing metal parts.
  • Welding should be smooth, polished and free of burrs and sharp corners.
  • Inside corners should have about 1/4” radius.
  • Sharp corners, cracks and exposed threads should be eliminated on all interior and exterior surfaces.
  • For hand cleaning, interior surfaces should be easily accessible for cleaning and inspection.
  • Clean-in-place (CIP) systems should be self-draining and not contain dead ends.
The Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website has a listing of used processing equipment.

http://www.agriculture.alberta.ca
 
 
 
 

Other Documents in the Series

 
  Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Preface
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Introduction
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Starting Out
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Business Planning
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Business Considerations
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Food Processing Regulations
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Facilities
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Product Development
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Processing and Packaging Equipment - Current Document
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Packaging and Labeling
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Distribution and Sales
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Promotion
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Financing
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Sources of Assistance
Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors - Additional Resources
 
 
 
 
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ag Info Centre.
This information published to the web on June 27, 2005.
Last Reviewed/Revised on March 31, 2012.