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Food Plant Design & Layout: Factors To Consider

Food Plant Design & Layout: Factors To Consider

Food plant design and layout involves the arrangement of the equipment in a processing plant. Such an arrangement should take into consideration the efficiency and convenience/ease of use that will result after laying out all the equipment.

You must make sure to address all the safety concerns adequately, putting all the cautionary measures in place and all the color codes to avoid accidents.

The construction should facilitate flow and efficiency by minimizing obstacles and making use of gravity to facilitate flow wherever necessary.

Contents of the feasibility study determine the placement of the processing plant.

Contents of a food plant design feasibility study:

  • Source of raw materials
  • Accessibility of the utilities such as clean water, electricity/power, and heating energy sources
  • Wastewater handling concerns/sewerage system
  • Accessibility to the market; population, the place itself, and the pricing regime
  • Topography of the place; will affect other factors such as plant layout, which may have cost implications
  • Means of transportation of raw materials and finished goods to and from the site
  • Cost of construction
  • Shape of the land
  • The plant size you are considering to put up
  • Environmental concerns and solid waste handling

The feasibility study will also produce process charts for the intended product. This will help in identifying all the required items for the process without overlooking any important aspect.

The flow chart is a diagrammatic representation of the flow of materials and a sequence of operations for a given food processing operation.

From the process chart, one can be able to identify;

  • The required materials
  • Sequence of operations and their parameter magnitudes
  • Products and by-products
  • Required equipment and utilities

If you are considering putting up a dairy processing unit, the following would be a feasible flowchart for the reception process.

Factors to consider when planning a food plant design and layout.

  1. Product flow: – consider if the plant processing with the available equipment will need a linear flow or otherwise
  2. Equipment spacing: – ensure that the equipment is properly laid out in the facility to leave adequate room for personnel movement
  3. Space for maintenance operations: – ensure that all the equipment has at least 75 cm clearance from the nearest wall to facilitate movement and manipulation during maintenance operations. The doors should open freely
  4. Orient the equipment in the plant to facilitate suitable product flow
  5. Process parameters (or indicators) should be visible and accessible to facilitate quick implementation of corrective mechanisms
  6. Properly place all the operating control panels within reach and properly labeled
  7. Consider all other safety concerns within the plant.

Plant Layout: Sections of a Dairy Processing Plant

Plant layout plays a very critical role in production planning and plant efficiency. Proper planning for the dairy manufacturing plant (or any other food manufacturing plant) will not only increase efficiency but quality as well.

Given that quality is the number one prerequisite for any food manufacturing plant, it is very critical to ensure that the plant and equipment facilitate the required quality as much as possible.

In fact, the architectural design should take quality, functionality and safety into consideration among the many other aspects of consideration.

Food safety is a building block for food quality assurance. Given the nobility of the functions of a processing facility, it is important to assure high standards of safety.

Negligence in terms of quality in a manufacturing plant would put many lives at risk. This is due to the direct impact of the products that come from these processing lines.

The layout of the food manufacturing plant plays a key role in quality assurance because it not only facilitates smooth flow of products but also prevents cross-contamination of products in the processing lines.

Common Sections of a Food Manufacturing Plant.

i) Reception

Truck and milk tankers usually ferry the milk to the processing plant. The factory personnel offload this milk at the specially designed offloading bay. There are pumps and flow meters at the bay to check the flow of milk as it flows into the milk silos.

On the other hand, the staff manually offload milk from trucks onto a raised platform (usually 0.8 -0.9 meters in height). The raised platform should facilitate orderliness for serving each supplier at a time.

The orderliness will also facilitate thorough quality assurance testing. The platform should have a lining of rubber mats to reduce noise at the platform.

ii) Processing rooms

Separate raw material rooms from the processing rooms. The rooms should not open directly to the exterior of the plant. Use barriers/self-closing doors.

The plant layout should include the plans for the manufacturing, packaging, and storage rooms.

The manufacturing and packaging rooms should be separate from the storage room. Product storage room should be separate from the material storage room. Such a separation will be a safeguard against cross-contamination.

Perishable products are kept in a refrigerated/cold room to keep them at the right quality before dispatching to the market.

iii) Laboratory

The lab should be easily accessible due to the central role it plays in quality assurance. It should be located near the manager’s office for ease of supervision.

Its central placement should facilitate access to the raw material and product sampling points for timely analysis.

iv) Toilet facilities

Separate the washrooms from the processing area. The facility should have both bathrooms and the toilets. Provide foot baths, hand washing sinks, and hand sanitizers.

The water valve at the hand-washing sink should be foot operated to increase/improve sanitation.

v) Offices

The offices should be accessible from the entrance of the plant. In case of a story building, design the offices to occupy the upper floors.

Whichever the case, the office should be accessible to facilitate supervision of the plant activities within the plant.

vi) Utility room

The plant layout should also provide an ample space for the utility room, which houses the boilers, refrigeration system, power generators, compressed air/vacuum systems, etc.

Design a different building to house these utilities because of safety issues associated with each.

vii) Waste Handling facilities

Implement proper waste handling mechanisms for every food processing plant. Include grease/grit trap in your designs.

Have proper toxic waste handling mechanisms to protect the environment from degradation.

viii) Dispatch platform

Finally, consider the space requirements for dispatch in your designs. In most instances, the dispatch platform resembles the reception platform in design. Raising the platform facilitates loading and/or offloading of the products.

Industrial Colour Coding Standards

Industrial colour coding is a standardization method employed to improve industrial safety and efficiency. They are internationally recognized color codes that facilitate recognition of different conduits and electrical wires.

The essence of colour coding is to facilitate convenience, promote safety, and make the facility/equipment easy to maintain.

Colour coding for electrical installations

From the grid, the transformers step down the power to a voltage level that the final consumer can use safely. Consequently, a typical three-phase connection has R (red), Y (yellow), B (blue) and black (neutral) cables. However, the R, Y, and B cables are live.

The potential difference between any two of the R, Y, and B is 440 volts while the potential difference between the neutral (black) cable and any of the three ranges between 220 – 240 volts. Usually, the earth wire is green with/without a yellow stripe.

Colour coding for utility installations

  • Piped water: – sky blue color
  • Chilled water: – usually insulated and normally has a green arrow on the insulating material showing the direction of flow.
  • Hot water pipes: – also insulated and has a red arrow on the insulating material showing the direction of flow
  • Steam: – uses the same colour coding as hot water (red arrow). The word steam is optional.
  • Condensate/used steam: – black color
  • Compressed air: – light green color
  • Vacuum: – yellow color
  • Ammonia refrigerant lines: – dark red (maroon)
  • Other refrigerants (Freon/CFCs): – bare copper tubes

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