Batch to Continuous Processing: When Should You Make the Switch?

You know the benefits of continuous processing, especially for small manufacturers. But upgrading your processes means investing in new equipment, training your staff, and, ultimately, changing how things are done in your facility. When is the right time to make that kind of change?

5 indications it’s time for you to make the switch from batch to continuous processing

1. You’ve reached maximum productivity with your batch system

Say, for example, you make flame-grilled chicken breasts to be sliced and frozen. Even if you have employees flipping product on the grill for three shifts a day, there are still only so many chicken breasts you can flame grill in a week. What happens if you’re offered a larger contract?

Continuous processing can increase your throughput significantly while at the same time reducing your footprint. That gives you higher production now and room to grow in the future.

2. Your product spends too much time between steps

Now imagine the full process for those chicken breasts. First, they’re flame grilled, then put in the oven to finish cooking, then sliced, and finally frozen. Any time the product spends between steps is not only wasted time in terms of productivity. It’s also time when the product is exposed to potential contamination.

In continuous processing, products never spend time waiting around for what comes next. They move nonstop from raw material to fully processed.

3. You lose a lot of product to human error or inconsistent results

Human error and inconsistent results are some of the top causes of product loss in a batch process. For example, someone flips half of the chicken breasts earlier than the other half or leaves product in the oven too long. In the best case scenario, this results in product cooked inconsistently. In the worst case scenario, it’s a serious food safety risk.

With a continuous system, you know that every product will be treated exactly the same.

4. You’re upgrading your food safety initiatives

Every interaction a person has with food products throughout the food processing and packaging process poses a food safety risk. Continuous processing takes people out of the equation, reducing (not eliminating) food safety risk.

5. You need to reduce your production costs

We’re in an industry with high price pressure and low profit margins. That’s why the price tag of new equipment can seem like such a big hurdle. But, by improving productivity, decreasing labor costs, and eliminating unnecessary product loss, continuous processing reduces operational expense and enables processors to shift valuable resources to other areas of their operation. That lowers the total cost of ownership, which more than makes up for the higher upfront costs of the equipment.

If any of these five things sounds familiar, it might be time for you to consider moving to continuous processing systems. Contact us to visit a solution center and learn more about how we can help.

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