Page 43 - Business Basics for Alberta Food Processors

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Processing and Packaging
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
• 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.