In the food product manufacturing industry, product flow is crucial. Not only does an inefficient product flow waste time, it can cost you money and compromise the quality (and safety) of food products. Having the right food processing equipment can be crucial for preventing food processing product flow problems.
What are some common product flow problems? More importantly, how can these issues be avoided with custom wire baskets and other food processing equipment?
What Causes Product Flow Problems?
Here are a few common problems that impact product flow in a food manufacturing plant:
- Food Contamination. From bacterial infections, to cross-contamination, to debris from faulty food processing equipment, there are many ways for food to become contaminated during processing. This contamination wastes food product while simultaneously reducing output—creating food product flow problems.
- Excessive Delays Between Processes. Some delays between food product manufacturing processes may be unavoidable. However, excessive delays for cleaning baskets, straining meat byproduct runoff, or even loading and unloading food product processing equipment can reduce a manufacturing plant’s productivity.
- Process Bottlenecks. If there’s a process that can only accept so much product at once, and that is less than what all previous processes can output, it creates a process bottleneck. As unfinished food product waits to clear this bottleneck, it can start to spoil, meaning that production in every process has to be constrained to avoid excessive accumulation of goods at the point of the bottleneck.
The problem with product flow problems in a food manufacturing facility is that they can increase expenses while minimizing productivity. This, in turn, reduces margins for the business and makes it harder to achieve long-term success.
So, how can food manufacturers improve product flow? One solution is to use custom food grade wire baskets to increase efficiency.
How Can Custom Food Processing Baskets Help?
Using food-grade stainless steel wire baskets that have been customized for your food manufacturing processes can help to minimize certain product flow problems in your plant.
For example, using electropolished stainless steel for your food processing baskets makes them incredibly easy to sterilize. This helps improve product flow by making it easier to clean the baskets between uses so there’s less downtime. Additionally, it helps make it harder for food products to stick to the basket, making them easier to remove when needed.
Another benefit of using a custom-designed basket is that it can often be used for multiple processes. This way, instead of having to remove food product from one basket or tray to insert into another, the food can be carried on the same tray or basket throughout most, if not all, of your manufacturing processes.
For example, say you had an oven-baking process to cook a food product, followed by a flash-freezing process to preserve the food for packaging and shipping. In most cases, you would use the default baskets or trays that came with the food processing equipment for each process, and have to transfer the food from the cooking baskets/trays to the flash freezing baskets/trays. However, with a custom basket designed to withstand sudden temperature changes, you could simply carry the basket straight from one process to the next without a delay. If this saved even a single minute from your manufacturing process, over the course of a day, that could mean hours of added productivity across hundreds of food batches.
An additional benefit of using a custom wire food processing basket is that these baskets can be optimized to maximize capacity in your food processing equipment. This can be useful for getting more product into your equipment at once to maximize productivity and alleviate bottlenecks—though the equipment itself will always place an upper limit on the size and capacity of the baskets and trays used with it.
One example of a way a basket design could increase food processing equipment capacity would be the use of several thin, stackable baskets with dividers to pass multiple batches of food through an oven at once. In food processing, it may be necessary to keep pieces of food separate to avoid creating conjoined products. So, putting items such as shaped chicken patties in divided baskets to prevent product-on-product contact can be useful. This allows more product to be cooked and sterilized at once, increasing productivity.
These are just a few of the ways that custom wire baskets for food processing equipment can help improve product flow in your plant. For more information and ideas about how to use custom food processing baskets, reach out to the team at Marlin Steel.