Focusing on key elements from floors at ground level to the tops of the roofs, innovative, cutting-edge products and technologies are emerging to make manufacturing facilities more state-of-the-art, efficient, and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-compliant than ever before.
Improved Floor Coatings
Sherwin-Williams Protective & Marine Coatings (S-WP&MC) is now offering water-based floor coatings featuring improved hot-tire staining resistance and no hot-tire pickup.
Introduced commercially August 1, 2017, these products, AquArmor WBU Water-Based Urethane Floor Coatings, are the next generation of water-based, aliphatic urethane coatings designed for industrial venues, according to Casey Ball, S-WP&MC’s marketing director for resinous flooring. (Aliphatic compounds are organic compounds in which carbon atoms form open chains, not aromatic rings. These compounds are used as corrosion inhibitors.)
Ball says that the new coatings, which work on poured concrete floors and any type of walls, deliver high-performance application and aesthetic characteristics that rival solvent-based products, with the added benefit of lower volatile organic compounds than solvent-based formulations.
“The coatings’ wet edge application properties help to minimize the potential for roller lap marks, ensuring a consistent gloss sheen for GP4410 and a consistent satin sheen for GP4411, the two finishes available in the line,” Ball explains. “After curing, the coatings offer the best resistance to hot-tire pickup and hot-tire staining compared to other water-based floor coatings, preventing tires from leaving excessive, permanent stains.
“The products also offer superior chemical-resistance properties, helping to enhance the aesthetics of food and beverage manufacturing facilities and warehouses,” Ball continues.
“Additionally, these floor coatings are available in multiple finishes and custom colors, offering more aesthetic options than solvent-based products on the market.”
Gloss-sheen GP4410 is available in clear, 10 standard colors, and two tint bases. GP4411 is only available in a clear satin finish. “Applicators can create a more durable finish by adding GP5240 aluminum oxide to either GP4410 or GP4411,” Ball mentions.
AquArmor WBU Water-Based Urethane Floor Coatings have 18-hour intercoat adhesion, meaning one has up to18 hours to apply the second coat without concerns about the second coat adhering to the first, Ball notes. “This long recoat window helps with project scheduling, while ensuring an increased bond between coating layers when they’re applied within this window,” he points out. “The coatings also have a short dry time, permitting foot traffic at 18 hours, light traffic at 24 hours, and wheeled traffic at 48 hours, enabling fast returns to service. This application efficiency accelerates new flooring installations and minimizes downtime for existing food and beverage facility floor maintenance.”
Reflective insulation is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, including in the food industry, says Bruce Wester, director of sales for Fi-Foil Company, Auburndale, Fla., a manufacturer of reflective insulation systems and radiant barriers.
While first introduced for commercial applications about 15 years ago, Fi-Foil has only recently started marketing its RetroShield System to the food industry as a viable insulation solution to meet some requirements of FSMA, Wester relates.
Explaining reflective insulation technology, Wester points out that heat is transferred by three methods, conduction, convection, and radiation. “Traditional insulating products resist heat transfer by slowing down conduction through materials such as fiberglass, recycled paper, or foam,” he notes. “Key to traditional insulation is the small air spaces within those products, since air is a tremendous insulator.”
Reflective insulation works differently, Wester says, by incorporating highly reflective foils or metalized films, either alone or as part of an engineered product structure, to reduce the most dominant of the three forms of heat transfer, radiant energy, through high reflectance and low emissive surfaces that block more than 90 percent of radiant energy transmission.
“Reflective insulations also incorporate air as an insulator by creating air cavities within a product and/or in conjunction with the building structure around them to reduce the convective component of heat transfer,” Wester explains. “In the case of our RetroShield system, it addresses conduction, convection, and radiation plus creates a continuous insulation barrier to stop that transfer of heat or cold. Reflective insulations can also be combined with traditional insulations to help them perform better and create an optimized solution.”
It is widely accepted by building scientists that heat transfer can be substantially minimized by controlling the radiant energy passing through both the ceilings and walls, Wester points out. “The RetroShield System is designed to virtually eliminate radiant heat transfer,” he says.
Fi-Foil’s RetroShield System is a viable option to quickly and economically upgrade the interior of a facility to a clean environment, sealing off old deteriorated insulation, peeling paint, or other potential food contamination issues, Wester adds.
“Within the food industry, RetroShield has recently been sought out to solve problems associated with an aging facility, as well as to increase energy efficiency, comfort, and create a brighter workspace,” Wester elaborates.
Wester notes that a law of thermodynamics is that heat energy flows from hot to cold. “By design, Fi-Foil products function to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter, thus providing an ability to better control the interior temperature of a facility,” he says. “The result is improved energy efficiency, comfort, and working conditions that often lead to higher productivity.”
Roofing Diagnostics Tools
There haven’t been any major innovations in roofing products of late, says Fred Sitter, marketing manager for Royalty Roofing, Seymour, Ind., a company that serves the food industry. “Although there have been modifications to product formulations and roof membrane thickness, “most commercial roofing materials in use today have been around for decades,” Sitter relates. “However, a recent development relative to roofs is the use of infrared technology to identify problem areas.”
Since its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye, thermal energy, also known as infrared energy, is light that is not visible. Thus, it requires a thermal imaging device or infrared camera which detects infrared energy, converts that energy to an electronic signal and then produces a thermal image on a video monitor.
Thermal imaging is non-invasive and allows for quick evaluation of a large area. “Thermal imaging shows temperature variations on the rooftop, which in turn can indicate the presence of problematic moisture under the roof surface,” Sitter relates.
While a roof represents only about five percent of the cost of a commercial building, 70 percent to 80 percent of lawsuits associated with commercial (any non-single-family) buildings, including food processing facilities, are centered around failures in the integrity of the roofs, Sitter notes. He says the main causes of leak problems are poor initial installation and not taking care of leaks as soon as they arise.
“Roofing failures impact the whole environment of a building, so timely, accurate detection of roof leaks and moisture penetration is critical to the food industry because water damages insulation and other building components, including drywall, ceiling panels, etc., and can cause mold growth and create an environment for pests to breed,” Sitter emphasizes. “Such a setting would threaten a company’s objective to process food safely. Ensuring rooftop watertight integrity should be a part of any food manufacturer’s safety strategy.
“To that end, cameras that detect infrared radiation are being used with increasing frequency to inspect roofs and pinpoint leak locations,” Sitter says. “And drones are being used to carry the cameras, which can provide a safe alternative to humans climbing on a roof. Drone and infrared camera technology is increasingly affordable and, in my view, will become as essential as screw guns and hot-air welders in a roofer’s toolkit.”
Conveyor Belt Innovation
Conveyor belts can get jammed, break, or wear down, sometimes resulting in bits of plastic entering the food production line, notes Donald Harvey, business development manager in the U.S. and Canada for Esbelt, S.A., Barcelona, Spain, a manufacturer of conveyor belts.
In November 2016, Esbelt introduced in the U.S. an innovative new conveyor belt that is helping to address this issue of potential plastic contamination.
Esbelt’s Metal Detectable Conveyor Belt POLER 0802MD incorporates a unique formulation of DuPont Hytrel TPC-ET thermoplastic polyester elastomer (Hytrel) which is detectable in metal detection and X-ray inspection machines, according to Franco Marabelli, global business consultant, development material handling, for DuPont Performance Materials.
“A special food grade Hytrel has been enriched so that it can be detected by metal and/or X-ray detectors and offer the flexibility of rubber with the strength and processability of thermoplastics to produce conveyor belts,” Marabelli elaborates.
Compliant with FDA and EU food regulations, the Poler 0802MD is recommended for areas where scrapers, cleaners, or highly abrasive food products are used, according to the belt’s product brochure, which also mentions that in the unlikely event that the belt cover is chipped or scratched, the belt is detectable by standard metal detection systems. Due to its material density, the belt compounds can be detected by X-ray inspection equipment, this same Esbelt literature states.
“Following the shared standards of metal detector manufacturers, Esbelt has established a direct correlation between detectability of conveyor belt pieces of given sizes and that of metallic balls of given diameters,” adds Federico Segura Roda, Esbelt’s president.
Harvey emphasizes that not all Esbelt conveyor belts using the original Hytrel are metal detectable. “We use both standard and metal detectable Hytrel compounds,” he relates.
“The Poler 0802MD conveyor belt material is detectable in a metal detector,” Harvey relates. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that the belt’s metal detectable and X-ray inspection qualities are dependent on the capacities of the specific metal detector that is utilized and its setup by the end user. There are three variables facing metal detection and X-ray inspection today, namely the product type to be inspected, environmental noise, and set up, so it’s important to conduct tests with each product to determine detectable size.”
For details on how Gray Construction provided virtual reality and 3-D printing services on new manufacturing facility for Champion Petfoods, CLICK HERE.