Food Safety Update: Equipment Acquisition/Investment

The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to a recent survey on equipment acquisition/investment.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of Food Manufacturing

The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on equipment acquisition.

Technology continues to evolve. So do Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans at food processing facilities. And compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules is also currently at the forefront for food manufacturers. Plant equipment, meanwhile, remains an important consideration related to all of the above.

ALSO SEE: What Food Manufacturers need to know about the Food Safety Modernization Act

We recently surveyed Food Manufacturing readers from across all segments of the industry on trends, topics and considerations as it relates equipment acquisition and capital investment.

Just more than 45 percent of those surveyed said that an equipment acquisition in their facility in the last 12 months has led to an update to their facility’s HACCP plans. Just less than 55 percent said it had not.

Approximately two-thirds of respondents said that when purchasing equipment, their facility makes its food safety plans available to vendors to ensure they are able to produce equipment that works with those food safety plans. The remaining one-third of those surveyed said that is not the case.

More than 65 percent of respondents said their facility will adjust HACCP plans to meet the changes brought by the purchase of new equipment. Meanwhile, nearly 35 percent of those surveyed said that their facility will try to ensure that all new equipment purchases require no updates to HACCP plans.

As it relates to FSMA compliance, more than 56 percent reported that their facility has made changes to its HACCP plans as a result. Nearly 44 percent said their facility has not changed its HACCP plan.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said their facility has not had to acquire new equipment over the last 24 months in order to stay compliant with changing regulations. The remaining one-third of respondents said their facility had purchased new equipment to stay compliant in that two-year time frame.

When it comes to the type of equipment purchases that typically result in an update to a facility’s HACCP plan, mixers/blenders/grinders were cited most frequently (53.4 percent) by those surveyed, followed by new packaging equipment (37.7 percent), sensors/detectors (32.9 percent), bulk handling equipment (29.5 percent), large storage tanks/vessels (29.5 percent), form/fill/seal systems (28.1 percent) and conveyors (26.7 percent). Other types of equipment mentioned were: pumps/valves (25.3 percent), HVAC/air handlers (21.9 percent), feeders (19.9 percent) and palletizers/cartoners/stretch wrappers (10.3 percent).

Obviously, it takes money to purchase new equipment, and more than 47 percent of those surveyed said the equipment acquisition budget at their facility has not changed in the last 12 months. Exactly 38 percent of respondents said the equipment acquisition budget has increased at their facility in the last year, while 14.7 percent reported that the equipment acquisition budget has decreased during that time.

The vast majority of those surveyed (86.8 percent) said that when discussing new equipment acquisitions, they find that equipment manufacturers are aware of and sensitive to the need for food manufacturers to maintain high sanitary levels and meet food safety standards. Just more than 13 percent reported that was not the case.

When asked how heavily food safety factors into equipment purchasing decisions, 73 percent reported “very.” Just shy of 20 percent reported “somewhat.” Fewer than four percent of those surveyed reported “little” or “none.”

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