Part 2: Food and Beverage tips for efficiency, productivity, quality


Control moisture, upgrade lighting, monitor peak demand and watch waste heat

Last month we dished up a first round of tips for energy efficiency in the food and beverage industry. Kristen Spanza, Food and Beverage Sector Lead for Stantec's industrial buildings and facilities practice area, offered ideas based on her visits to dozens of food production facilities across North America.

This month, we're pleased to offer a second helping of tips, courtesy again of Spanza.

Kristen Spanza, food and beverage sector lead, Stantec.

6. Control moisture

Goods come out of an oven and must be quick-frozen. Boiled items must be packaged and chilled.

"You've got a lot of moisture in that room, a lot of product coming into that room that's above 4 degrees Celsius, and now you want to bring the room temperature down and you're relying on your room chilling system to do that," says Spanza. "Instead of just chilling down your room, you're going to be taking all that water vapour and condensing it. So you're spending a lot of money to turn water vapour into condensate, which in turn gives you a sanitation issue if you have dripping water around your facility."

Spanza recommends a dedicated chiller in a tunnel, that evacuates moist air before it hits the product room.

"The same sort of thing happens in your cleaning cycle," she says. "When you're sanitizing, you don't want to be chilling all of that cleaning water, and you want to make sure you're not spending money to turn water vapour into condensate. So you should turn your room temperature up for a few hours while you're cleaning, evacuate the room as much as possible of that moisture, and then chill the room back down before people show up the next day."

7. Better light, better productivity

"What I've learned in rolling out lighting projects to convert metal halide lighting to fluorescent T5 and T8 lighting is that the light quality people were working under was much improved," says Spanza. "Inspection quality improved, the ability to read order slips and check labels in the warehouse improved.

"We started to get productivity benefits out of better quality lighting, which just happened to be more energy efficient too."

Spanza says lightening walls and ceilings can save money too. "A lot of facilities built 20-30 years ago tend to have wooden ceilings that aren't painted, dark ceilings that take away all the light. Just the simple act of putting a reflective coating on your ceiling can increase your light levels tremendously."

Spanza says a reflective coating on the ceiling and/or walls may reduce the cost of a lighting retrofit by reducing the number of lights needed. Daylighting — adding more windows or skylights — can also save money on electric lighting.

8. Take a look at your peak demand

"Take a look at your bill and ask yourself, 'When does my peak demand occur?'" suggests Spanza. "If it's a clear spike, figure out what's causing it.

"What I found in one milk plant was that the peak occurred when one operator turned on all the motors in one 15-minute period. All they did was have him turn on half the switches then wait half an hour then switch on the rest, and it cut their peak demand in half.

"That was $1,000 a month savings from an incredibly simple solution."

Spanza says demand,such as under-desk heaters for chilly office staff during summer when air conditioning is turned too low,can create peaks where they're most expensive.

9. Beware waste heat

Doors on freezers often have heaters to keep them from icing up. They're great for their intended purpose, but not so great if the heat is reaching things it shouldn't.

"I was in one seafood freezer down south and the heat from the door was going directly on top of the pallets of shrimp that were staged beside the door," says Spanza. Similarly, she warns about the heat from compressed air.

"Compressed air wastes a lot of heat, so if you can perform a job without compressed air, do," she says. "Sometimes people put their compressor in hot areas in the centre of their building. Move it to an area where it can shed its heat more easily and doesn't have to run so hard.

"Compressors really should be on an outside wall where they can vent; especially in winter time, when they can take advantage of all that free cooling."