Hygienic Equipment Design for Low Moisture Foods

The Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE), founded in 2011 by PMMI—The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, brings together CPG production and engineering professionals with suppliers to address issues of common concern. Their latest guidance document covers hygienic equipment for low moisture foods.

Low moisture foods include nuts, cereals, chocolate and more.
Low moisture foods include nuts, cereals, chocolate and more.

One potential area for pathogen growth in low moisture food production environments is the packaging equipment used in primary packaging. Both consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) and suppliers have a strong commitment to build equipment that can be cleaned and sanitized, then returned to production while minimizing downtime. There are multiple approaches to achieving this.The variety of design options for packaging equipment can lead to one-off designs for each CPG when, in fact, a more standard equipment design could work.

The Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE), founded in 2011 by PMMI, which is the association for packaging and processing technologies, brings together CPG production and engineering professionals with suppliers to address issues of common concern.This group identified a need to consider hygienic equipment construction for low moisture foods.

The result is “One Voice for Hygienic Equipment Design for Low Moisture Foods,” says Tom Egan, vice president of industry services for PMMI. “This guidance document will help numerous companies reduce one-off designs by utilizing a framework, including risk assessment, to determine equipment design for wet and dry clean environments,” he said.

Risk assessment is a proven approach to helping arrive at decisions on multiple processes. “The risk assessment integrates with hygienic zones to arrive at a ‘must have’ criteria that are applied to several existing hygienic design guidelines,” explains Egan. “The CPG can still select a more rigorous OEM design, but the One Voice process lays out the base-level criteria, saving time and investment throughout the purchase discussions and decisions.This process enables the operations team to inform upper management of the choices made and the assessment that led to the design choice.”

More information on the joint collaboration approach as well as webinars hosted by CPG professionals is available through the PMMI website.

This guidance document is just one example of the multiple issues undertaken by AIOE Solutions Groups that might be of interest to CPG, food and beverage manufacturers.

“As with the group that developed the work product described above, each solutions group is composed of operations and engineering professionals from large and mid-size businesses,” says Egan.“Others groups have tackled overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) by developing both an opportunity calculator to generate an initial estimate, and a much more robust value calculator to help justify an investment.”

In addition, groups have looked at total cost of ownership (TCO); sustainability, specifically in production environments; factory acceptance test (FAT) checklists; workforce empowerment with recommendations for teams that are at any stage of their empowerment journey; and a few other topics.The result has been a range of educational materials. Full information on all groups, along with their work product, can be found is at www.pmmi.org/aioe.

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