In the final instalment of our three-part blog series looking at the future food factory, Ed Keenan, head of process at Integrated Food Projects shares his predictions for the buildings and services trends we are likely to see over the next 5-10 years.
You can see Ed’s opinion of the technical and process part of the industry, and what we can expect to see in food factories in the near future, in part one of this blog series here.
21. Battery powered site
Recent technical developments in power storage suggests that it won’t be long before we have factories connecting with the grid at night, and storing the power to use during their daytime peaks.
These will be connected to the grid and will charge at night, using that stored energy during daytime operations. Battery powered sites also have the benefit of providing back-up power during outages and smoothing out energy consumption spikes, allowing sites to operate under lower levels of authorised consent.
22. Lithium CO2 batteries
Lithium CO2 batteries have seven times more energy than the best lithium batteries and also boast the environmental credential of carbon capture – they can even be carbon neutral.
For factories looking to reduce carbon outputs, lithium CO2 batteries could be a simple solution.
23. Wireless power transfer
Wireless power transfer is the transmission of electrical energy without wires as a physical link.
One example of a form of wireless power transfer is inductive charging which was until recently, limited to electric toothbrushes! We are now seeing phones, watches and other gadgets charged in this way.
It does make sense that inductive charging could be particularly suitable for the food industry given that it removes some of the weak spots in terms of ingress protection.
24. Harvested piezoelectricity
Pressure crystals converting kinetic energy into potential energy (or stored energy) can be embedded within the floors of the factory and the roads onsite.
This energy converts into a vibration and movement and then into stored energy which can be used later. There are already dance floors utilising this principal!
25. Electric articulated vehicles
The food industry relies on a huge network of lorries and it’s inevitable that there will be a shift towards electric vehicles over the next few years.
A lorry turnaround time is generally 30 minutes or so, providing the perfect opportunity for rapid charging facilities to be installed within the loading dock area.
Manufacturers are currently promising ranges of up to 600 miles on full charge and a 400-mile journey being possible through a 30-minute charge. The current downsides being the enormous draw on power that these charging units need.
26. Solar building
The bricks, panels, and windows of which the building is constructed from will be made into solar panels thereby maximising the surface area for power generation.
An example of this in use is at Tesla, which has already proved this concept and will simply connect with pre-wired cabling for a more sustainable factory.
27. Infrared (IR) reflective panels
Far into the future we can expect all current refrigerants to be banned.
What if we could use the cold darkness of outer space (night-sky cooling, perhaps) to refrigerate our factories?
Infra-red light, or more specifically mid-infrared light, with wavelengths between eight and 13 micrometers escapes our atmosphere and heads into space carrying heat with it. We could attempt to harness this phenomenon to simply send our heat into outer space, thereby cooling our factories.
Current research suggests this would generate a 30% reduction in energy costs. I think we’ll start to see the adaptation of this principal within food factory refrigeration, in the next decade.
28. Heat pumps and engines
Heat pumps and engines are great examples of taking waste energy and using it where we actually need it – such as using the heat from the refrigeration plant to pre-heat boiler water.
These systems not only help to reduce the environmental impact of a site which could even be a significant part of a carbon neutral plan, but they also have an impressive return on investment.
29. Ultrasonic sludge disintegration
Sludge ultrasonic pre-treatment disintegration could remove the need for chemical agents that may be harmful to the health of ecosystems, such as chlorine. Ultrasound can be used as a disinfection technique without producing by-products.
Ultrasonication is an emerging and very effective mechanical pre-treatment method used to enhance the biodegradability of sludge. This process enhances the sludge digestibility by disrupting its physical, chemical and biological properties.
30. Building information modelling (BIM)
The Building Information Model (BIM) for a new factory can include all of the information needed to design, build and operate the facility.
Technology is advancing at such a pace that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can now be interfaced with the BIM to allow virtual exploration and interrogation of the facility both during construction and operation – the latter giving rise to new and leaner ways to manage the facility.
The BIM for a new factory can include all of the information needed to design, build and operate the facility.
This can integrate and store information on things like:
- Plant and process installations / data storage
- Lighting & power supply
- Factory construction
- Maintenance strategies
- Asset management
- Circular building data
It is likely that this AI will become more widespread in its use and implementation for facilities management in the coming years.
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