Food manufacturing plants have a number of additional considerations for designers, with strict hygiene and safety requirements adding to the already complex task of food factory design.
With increasing consumer scrutiny around environmental issues, designing a sustainable food and beverage factory adds further challenges.
In this blog, Ed Keenan, head of process at Integrated Food Projects, outlines his key considerations for a food factory design.
As with any construction project, securing planning permission is a major hurdle to building a new food factory. Understanding whether a site is suitable is one of the first important steps that must be undertaken.
It is vital to ensure that there is space to grow free from restraint, so that the factory can be expanded to meet increasing demand in the future if required.
Central to the issue of location is where your food factory will fit into the wider supply chain. Minimising the distance travelled throughout supply chains to reduce logistical carbon emissions can have a huge influence on the environmental impact of the new factory and optimise efficiency.
Our team of expert food factory designers also consider where there are opportunities for circular supply chains within the locality. For example, are there any opportunities for your waste streams to be utilised by other manufacturers?
Our associate director, Nigel Devine, discussed this topic in a recent blog discussing the valorisation of the plant-based protein sector.
The UK’s food and beverage sector is just one which has faced a labour shortage over recent years as high levels of employment and Brexit reduce the number of workers across agriculture, processing, manufacturing and logistics.
Developing a clear understanding of the best location to maximise the availability of both skilled and unskilled labour is vital to a successful food factory.
Central to attracting workers to your food factory is also creating an attractive working environment and this is an often overlooked factor in food factory design.
Key staff amenities such as changing facilities, offices, breakout spaces and canteens can make a massive difference to the work environment for staff.
When designing a food factory, you must consider the local network for key utilities such as water, electricity and gas. Factoring spare capacity into your plans or ensuring that your systems are extendable can help to overcome any potential shortages.
We discussed water usage in a previous blog, but it is a key consideration in food factory design. Consider whether it is cost effective to factor water re-use into the design from the outset and check whether the local authority can deal with waste water.
In some factories pre-treatment of waste water is cost-effective, but this has a further constraint on space.
One major hygiene consideration is the building fabric. Establishing a hygienic environment is essential to a safe manufacturing process and, although some designs feature a second internal ‘box’, the building façade can sometimes be used as the hygiene barrier.
It is also vital to allow for enough loading within the building frame to allow for secondary support for the food factory.
Planning ahead to understand the potential future uses for the site are essential to sustainable food factory design.
We’ve already discussed incorporating space to grow within the design but consider how the whole site or individual areas could be adapted for alternative use in the future.
Unsurprisingly there are a number of key safety factors to consider in a food factory design, whether it’s specific safety requirements, such as BS9999 for fire safety, or environmental permits and waste water discharge consents.
Careful planning is also essential to provide safe flows of staff, goods, traffic and HGVs to the site. Not only can this help to keep the potential for accidents to a minimum, it also helps to optimise the efficiency of the whole site.
As with any construction project in a period of inflation, keeping control of costs is far from straightforward.
Establishing a realistic budget control at the design stage can help to mitigate any unplanned costs, however, maintaining a contingency is vital to keep the project on track in case of any unforeseen events.
We are currently seeing record levels of inflation and the cost of services will only continue to increase in the future, so building efficiently can help to reduce costs further down the line.
Future planning also means ensuring that environmental improvements are factored into the design. Electric vehicles (EV) are expected to significantly reduce the environmental impact of food and beverages supply chains, so ensure you have capacity for EV charging.
Integrated Food Projects have partnered with Kettleby Foods on a number of high-profile multi-million pound capital projects since 2003/4, helping the business to develop and grow. Throughout that time they have provided cost-effective and efficient solutions on development projects both at our existing ready meals production facility and also in creating a new satellite facility. The projects at our existing facility were managed without impact on our ability to service our own clients, and all projects have been delivered within budget, in a timely fashion and to the requisite standards of safety and quality. Their team work ethos and professional approach ensure successful projects and I would utilise Integrated Food Projects in the future without hesitation.
- Jarrod Thorndyke, Production Director
I have worked with Integrated Food Projects on many capital expenditure projects since 2004, the latest being the development of the new plot of land adjacent to our main site. They successfully employed a project delivery process to ensure the integration of a leased modular building solution with the development of the site infrastructure to improve logistics and Health and Safety. Their staff are always positive and enthusiastic and have fostered a team-work approach ensuring another successful project delivered. I look forward to working with them again in the near future.
- Engineering Manager, Major UK Ready Meals Manufacturer