Luminaires can reduce food processing plant downtime

Sealed luminaires meet standards, address myriad challenges

By Lynn Walldorf February 17, 2022
礼貌:Kenall Manufacturing Co.

Each year, millions of dollars of capital improvements are made to facilities and equipment to increase product safety, protect employees and reduce costs. This is a critical expenditure, since equipment in a typical food processing plant often runs 16 to 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Equipment failure is the most common cause of unplanned downtime. The longer it takes plant personnel to respond and repair equipment, the more damaging the interruption. Systems not at full speed create a domino effect that can result in missed deadlines, lost revenue and disappointed customers.

Unplanned downtime can cost a food processing facility an astounding $30,000 per hour. According to analyst firm Aberdeen Research, 82% of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years. A Deloitte industry report cited recent studies that show this unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers an estimated $50 billion annually. That said, downtime can cost a company more than just money — it can be a logistical nightmare. The expenses and ramifications are simply too high for plants to risk equipment failures, particularly now.

The challenge of unplanned downtime has been compounded by the shortage of trained maintenance workers and further challenged by the impact of COVID-19.

随着世界努力应对2019冠状病毒病的影响(包括供应链问题),食品加工业在维持现有业务方面面临着比以往任何时候都更大的压力。在疫情爆发之初,美国的食品加工厂被认为是必不可少的。维修工人在大流行爆发之前就短缺,现在这种短缺更加严重。工厂需要创新的解决方案来减少计划外停机时间。

Worker shortage and plant downtime

The U.S. manufacturing skills gap could leave as many as 2.1 million jobs unfilled by 2030, according to a report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. Left unabated, this gap could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. Moreover, a 2017 industry study sponsored by Advanced Technology Services found that the leading cause of unscheduled downtime within respondents’ facilities was aging equipment (42%), followed by operator error (19%) and lack of time needed to perform necessary maintenance (13%).

对于工厂维护和设施管理人员来说,仅仅是“停工”这个词就会引起恐慌,尤其是在目前工人短缺的情况下。根据美国制造业协会的一项研究,由于熟练工人的空缺,制造业平均10个职位中有6个空缺。维修技术人员是工厂最需要的岗位之一。

Throughout executive interviews conducted as part of this year’s National Association of Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, a resounding distress signal kept repeating itself: “We can’t find the people to do the work.” This sentiment is backed by data: 77% of surveyed manufacturers anticipate there will be ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2021 and beyond. The immediate shortages the industry must address include the challenge of filling entry-level and skilled positions.

Finally, many working in these industries today are nearing retirement age, and few younger workers are coming in to fill the void. The widening age gap for skilled workers will put strain on facilities in many industries.

Reduce downtime and costs by using sealed luminaires

The need is greater than ever to optimize equipment reliability so as to maximize uptime and productivity. According to a 2018 McKinsey & Company report, McKinsey on Food Processing & Handling: Ripe for Disruption?, “Customers are demanding machines that improve operational efficiency, cut costs, and increase uptimes.”

While luminaires, or light fixtures, aren’t part of the production line, food processing companies can reduce food-borne illnesses, lessen operating costs and reduce downtime through the use of sealed luminaires. Innovative infrastructure solutions like sealed LED luminaires can ensure sanitation regulations are being met and that maintenance above the production lines is minimized.

A well-designed sealed enclosure, using high-quality construction and materials, virtually eliminates the risk of contamination and need for frequent maintenance. Luminaires with a nonporous, triple-gasketed sealed design ensure they remain free of corrosion, dust, dirt, insects, moisture and bacteria. This sealed luminaire design also helps reduce costly unscheduled maintenance and downtime by protecting the luminaire’s internal components.

Plant illumination and standards

Food processing plants must pay close attention to food safety. Typically, this involves power washing and sanitizing equipment. In these environments, the installation of sealed LED luminaires can improve safety and compliance and reduce plant downtime.

Food manufacturing facilities must follow USDA regulations, including those involving the presence of glass in a facility. When handled incorrectly, glass, such as that in some luminaires, can create the threat of contamination. Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires sealed enclosure luminaires certified to Ingress Protection (IP) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards to reduce the risk of contamination and avoid costly disruption of work due to unscheduled maintenance.

图1说明。密封灯具安装在美国宠物营养工厂在里昂,佐治亚州。美国食品药品监督管理局(FDA)和加拿大食品检验局(Canadian Food Inspection Agency)等主要认证机构的认证提供了支持。

图1说明。密封灯具安装在美国宠物营养工厂在里昂,佐治亚州。美国食品药品监督管理局(FDA)和加拿大食品检验局(Canadian Food Inspection Agency)等主要认证机构的认证提供了支持。礼貌:Kenall Manufacturing Co.

The purpose of the food equipment standard is to establish minimum food protection and sanitation requirements for the materials, design, fabrication, construction, and performance of food handling and processing equipment, including luminaires. To ensure safety and reduce maintenance, the FDA has developed certifications and standards. For example, relative to lighting in the food processing plant, the light should be:

  • Easy to clean
  • Made of smooth, no-hole and corrosion-resistant material
  • Designed to reduce the ingress of dust, debris, pests and other possible hazards.

除了食品设备标准外,还制定了显色指南,以确保在质量检查过程中对产品进行适当的检查。食品加工环境也要求在每个任务地点有正确的光照量。为了符合美国农业部、FDA和照明工程学会(IES)制定的严格标准,在显色至关重要的地方,建议最低显色指数为85。

Maintaining sanitation with luminaires

The Food Safety Modernization Act is transforming the nation’s food safety system by shifting the focus from responding to foodborne illness, to preventing it. Product recalls cost food and beverage companies millions of dollars each year, but 56% of 2019’s recalls across the U.S., UK and Ireland were preventable.

Food processing plants are a very difficult environment for luminaires due to the impact of daily cleaning and sanitizing. Harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide and other caustics are used to clean equipment and can be extremely corrosive. In addition to caustic chemicals, high pressure spray is used, sometimes at up to 1,000 pounds per square inch. While this ensures all contaminants are removed, water enters unsealed fixtures and does extensive damage.

Sealed enclosure luminaires, however, prevent both the ingress and egress of dust, fungus, bacteria and other contaminants that might put processes and people at risk. Additionally, the NSF has introduced a new protocol — NSF P442 — that requires stringent pressure testing and third-party certification to prove that luminaires are qualified for clean industrial applications. They must prevent the flow of air between the plenum space and the controlled environment, be protected from contaminants, particulates and moisture, and be easily cleanable. This protocol is very difficult to achieve but proves that a luminaire is truly leak-proof and ready for use in the most challenging environments. Not every situation demands this protocol – but for those that do, look for the NSF P442 certification.

Innovation mitigates challenges

The shortage of maintenance technicians creates a cascade of challenges for food manufacturers. In the short run, these challenges include disrupted production schedules and increased safety risks. Over the long haul, a lack of regular maintenance and insight into machinery function can put plants’ capital equipment at risk of serious damage and shortened lifespans. Each of these challenges puts manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage.

Luminaires installed over food production lines aren’t capital equipment, yet they can be critical for workers doing their jobs and to keep operations running. Installing sealed enclosure luminaires that meet industry standards is one effective solution to help offset the worker shortage.


Lynn Walldorf
Author Bio:Lynn Walldorf is the product manager at Kenall Manufacturing Co. Kenall Manufacturing Co. is a Legrand company, founded in Chicago in 1963.