3 Non-Obvious Ways to Improve Your Processing Efficiency

production efficiency

As you know, food manufacturers live in a world of low profit margins, where price pressure is constant and expenditures are often difficult to justify.

Since many production lines run for long periods, sometimes 24/7, small efficiency improvements can have huge impacts on your bottom line. Fortunately, these improvements don’t have to involve those huge, difficult-to-justify expenditures. Often, you can improve your efficiency simply by looking at your current processes in a new way.

Here are three ways to improve your processing efficiency that you might not have considered.

1. Change the order of your processes

I know — it sounds crazy. And it isn’t always possible, but sometimes you can change the order in which products move through your line to be more efficient.

For example, the standard bar marking process for meats is to fully cook the meat in an oven, and then put it into a bar marker to add the diamond markings that make it look flame grilled.

But, if you switch the process around — flame grill first to create the bar marks and then finish cooking, you can trim 10% or more off the cooking time. That means you could feed roughly 10% or more product through your line on any given day.

There are ancillary benefits as well. Less cooking time means less yield loss, and flame grilling before finishing in the oven seals in the juices for a higher-quality product.

You can see how a small change can make a huge difference.

2. Be more sustainable

Sustainability usually goes hand in hand with energy efficiency. And for good reason — many sustainability measures are aimed at reducing the amount of energy plants consume.

But there are other aspects of sustainability to keep in mind. For example, reducing waste. According to one estimate, 9% of food loss occurs during processing. Case studies show that measures to reduce waste can not only achieve that particular sustainability goal, but also shorten a plant’s production time.

Paying attention to food waste can improve energy efficiency as well. For example, food waste can be used to produce biofuel, which can then be burned to generate electricity or heat.

Every way you look at it, being more sustainable is a winning proposition.

3. Focus on food safety

Many people have the misconception that food safety and process efficiency are mortal enemies. But this is far from true.

Focusing on cleaning and sanitation can actually improve the efficiency of your plant. How? Because clean machines run better.

Any material — soil, food dusts, food scraps — that is allowed to build up on your machines will decrease the efficiency of the equipment. By following proper procedures for cleaning and sanitation, you will remove the buildup, thus improving your production efficiency.

So, as you finalize your FSMA plans for the upcoming deadline, think about the wide range of positive impacts that focusing on food safety will have across your entire operations.

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