Why Safety Training Can Positively Impact Profitability

In 1970, the year Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), nearly 14,000 workers were killed on the job in the United States. Over the next ten years the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established regulations for workplace safety, inspection procedures, and limits on harmful materials in the workplace. OSHA’s policies were developed and implemented throughout the 1970s and by the 1980s, the positive effects of the agencies work were apparent. By 1989, the number of workplace fatalities averaged 6,359 per year down more than 50% from 1970. In 2017 fatalities had dropped even further to 5,147. In states where written injury and illness prevention programs (IIPP) are mandated by state law, research indicates those states had workplace fatality rates as much as 32 percent below the national average. The establishment and enforcement of safety regulations have saved tens of thousands of lives.

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Heat Exchanger and Boiler Maintenance: Chemical Descaling

Have you ever ironed a pair of dark pants only to have small white flakes fall out of the iron’s steam holes and make white streaks across your clothes? This is especially a problem in older irons that have never been cleaned. Your iron is in many ways like a commercial steam boiler. After a long time making steam, a boiler can clog up with white flakes and get trapped in the boiler system. This white buildup in both the steam iron and the boiler is a layer of calcium and other minerals called scale, or sometimes limescale. As the water evaporates, the minerals in the water don’t turn into steam when the machine is in use; they are left behind to form scale inside the equipment.

As annoying as those little white flakes are for your dark pants, imagine what those deposits do to the heating elements of large industrial equipment like boilers and heat exchangers. On some equipment, the scale buildup can be inches thick. An inch, or even a much thinner layer of scale is more than an annoyance, it’s a serious maintenance problem that diminishes system efficiency, reduces heat transfer, and increases operating costs. Just like maintaining and cleaning your steam iron, facility managers have to do the same for their heat exchangers and boilers.

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How FSMA Impacts Food and Beverage Manufacturers

The food and beverage industry have evolved significantly over the past 10 years. The rules for the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) have changed food and beverage manufacturing by having companies focus on preventing their products from being contaminated rather than limiting the scope of contaminations.

“FSMA is the largest overhaul of government regulations since the 1930s,” says Evan D. Reyes, National Account Manager at Goodway Technologies. “The intent is to tighten regulations on food processing, ultimately to provide safer food for consumers.”

The law now requires that companies in the food and beverage industry to exert tighter control of operations as well as provide documentation and tracking of every ingredient used throughout the enterprise.

At the same time, organizations are under increasing pressure to keep customers happy and save money but not skimp on quality. Poor quality can have wide-reaching effects on food and beverage companies because just one recall can bring a business to its knees.

“To be successful, food and beverage manufacturers must stress closed-loop quality, traceability across the value chain, and compliance throughout the process,” according to the recent “Impact of FSMA: Taking Stock of the F&B Landscape in 2016” report from Aberdeen Group.

Because of the increased attention on the industry, food and beverage companies cannot risk even one shipment that is not of the highest quality, the report notes.

That means food and beverage companies will most likely have to make changes to their operations to ensure compliance with the law.

To do that, organizations must have compliance and traceability built in from the start. Constructing a program that works and complies with FSMA takes “the right technology tools, proper document management and real-time visibility across the enterprise,” according to the report.

Reyes says for food and beverage manufacturers to achieve the goals of FSMA, they must focus on hazard analysis, preventive controls, and good manufacturing practices.

There are a number of tools and services to help companies comply with the FDA’s regulations, including food safety consulting companies that can help manufacturers transform sanitation programs and meet FSMA compliance, Reyes says.

“Besides consulting, investing in the right tools and technologies can really improve sanitation results, product quality, and food safety and help you prevent cross-contamination and get you up to the FSMA compliance level,” he notes.

Additionally, Reyes says suppliers should also help their food and beverage manufacturing customers meet FSMA compliance. Goodway can help by making certain you have the right sanitation equipment in place.

Next Steps:

The Future of Food: Origins and Organisms?

The Future of Food QualityWith the FDA tightening food label regulations and the risk of added allergens prompting regular product recalls, it’s worth taking a look at the future of food — what’s currently in development, what’s just around the corner and what can companies expect to see down the line?

Country of Origin

Last year Australian authorities were forced to recall a particular brand of bagged and frozen berries — which originated in Chile and China — after a Hepatitis A infection of four adults was linked to the product. According to ABC, the country is now rolling out new legislation which requires companies to mark the “country of origin” on virtually all food products. Products made in Australia will carry a “kangaroo” logo and also specify which ingredients were sourced locally, which were purchased elsewhere and which items were simply “assembled” in the country. It’s a big step for consumers and producers, who are now on the hook to design and implement entirely new labels within two years.

GM-No?

Stateside, the country is rolling out legislation which requires all foods containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) to be labelled as such. As noted by PBS, Congress recently approved the new bill; the Agriculture Department has two years to write specific rules detailing exactly what these labels need to contain. At minimum President Barack Obama says that most packages will need to carry a label with text, symbols or electronic codes which indicate the presence of GMOs. While the scientific community and the FDA agree that products which contain genetically modified organisms are safe to eat, consumers want “more information” about the origin and composition of specific ingredients.

The New Expectation?

With consumers and government agencies now demanding that food retailers and manufacturers both track and detail the country of origin and specific ingredient composition of their products, it’s not hard to imagine next steps. In the same way consumers worry about contamination from potential allergens or GMOs, for example, they could just as easily have concerns about specific food manufacturing techniques — leading to legislation which compels producers to provide details about the machinery which processes and packages certain food.

Hand-in-hand with type of potential oversight comes increased scrutiny of cleaning techniques and scheduling; violations could see companies fined or out of business until issues are addressed. Getting ahead of the game here starts with record-keeping — by keeping accurate and detailed reports about when specific machines were cleaned, how this task was carried out and if any issues were detected, processors can help future-proof their production lines. According to Evan Reyes, Goodway Technologies product specialist for the food industry, “complete, accurate, thoroughly documented SSOPs and Master Sanitation Schedules are essential for the modern food processor,” especially since under new FSMA legislation effective documentation is mandated by law and SSOPs can be requested by the FDA during any inspection. Despite the use of SSOPs, proper ingredient labelling and the use of color-coded production tools, cross-contamination of GMOs or non-origin-country ingredients may still occur. Here, your best bets are highly adaptable and thorough cleaning systems, such as HEPA filtered vacuums which capture food particles down to the micron level, helping to quickly eliminate any extraneous ingredients which have made their way into your food-prep or processing environment.

Emerging food legislation is focused on the combination of origin specificity and easy consumer access to ingredient information. Moving forward, companies should expect a greater focus on process mechanics and record-keeping — the right prep now can help buffer businesses against demands of new food product policies.

Chemical Descalers Make Cleaning Heat Exchangers Easier

Heat exchangers are used in a variety of appliances in our daily lives, including air conditioners, chillers, furnaces, boilers and condensers. They are also widely used in manufacturing environments and processing where shell and tube and plate and frame heat exchangers work to cool air compressors, oil pumps, extruders, food processing equipment and so much more.

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In the most basic terms, a heat exchanger is a piece of equipment, comprised usually of ether tubes or plate, that efficiently transfers heat from one medium to the other either heating or cooling.

The problem is that material deposits WILL accumulate on heat exchangers and reduce heat transfer, something that’s known as fouling.  These deposits can be biological in nature or most likely solid mineral deposits if water is used as a primary heat exchange medium. 

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