Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 61

OPERATIONS
" Kitchens are developing
products specific to grocery
store chains and showcasing
their products to prospective
clients. These kitchens require
refrigerated storage areas
as well. "
Some of the grocery-specific
trends The Austin Co. is tracking
include a focus on hygienic
zoning within the facility to
ensure that food safety is
appropriately managed and
controlled.
That process includes
analyzing the food safety risks
of each area of the facility and
creating zones to control the
transfer of any hazards in or out
of the area, which often leads to
physical separation and can be
actively or passively managed.
Active controls, Watson said,
include boot wash systems,
handwash and hairnet stations
for employees; passive controls
include floor markings for access
control.
Automated temperature
check stations for COVID are
also more commonplace in the
food production facilities being
built today, Watson said, and
workstation design that allows
for appropriate space between
employees has become more
important.
" Refrigerated storage areas
and central refrigeration systems
that service these areas continue
to be an important focus, as
is energy-efficient lighting, "
he added.
In commissaries in particular,
the increased use of IMP panels,
with their sanitation and the
ability to clean and sanitize
efficiently and effectively, is an
important trend, Watson said.
In addition, workstation
design, breakroom design, and
enhanced employee service
areas are gaining interest with
many companies. Those efforts
can include the ability to better
manage how employees enter
and exit facilities, including when
and where uniforms are changed.
Another area seeing significant
change, Watson said, is the
design of break rooms that allow
for increased air changes and
more room for social distancing.
" With the increasing
importance of allergens to a
large section of the population,
many food companies are
providing isolated production
spaces for allergen and nonallergen
products, " he said. " This
is needed so products can be
labeled 'produced in an allergenfree
environment.' "
Pandemic effects
COVID has definitely had an
impact on the design of food
plants, Watson said.
There is, for instance, a heavier
focus on sanitation, security,
social distancing, the number
of air changes in a space, and
employee amenities.
And the ability to attract, hire
and retain a workforce is more
challenging than ever, which
has led to a renewed focus on
working conditions, employee
services, work hours and
workstation design.
Companies are air conditioning
spaces that were once only
ventilated, Watson cited as an
example. In the past, during the
summer months, many areas that
were not airconditioned were
hot, humid, and uncomfortable.
" Investment in systems to
provide improved working
conditions are now an important
trend, " he said. " And automation
is key as the competition for
labor continues. Returns on
investment that were once in
the 2-3-year payback range have
been increased, meaning longer
payback periods are acceptable,
due to this worker shortage. "
the competition for labor
continues. Returns on
investment that were once
in the 2-3-year payback
range have been increased,
meaning longer payback
periods are acceptable, due
to this worker shortage. "
Dave Watson, The Austin Co.
Automation is key as
COVID has made its mark
on food production facilities
in several ways, according to
Storemasters' Knab.
The need to keep production
up, for instance, has required
smaller production preps
to reorganize space to keep
distancing. Kitchens and
prep spaces in stores have
diversified production, split
tasks, and utilized dormant
preps throughout the day to
supplement food preparation
efforts.
And, he added, crossfunctional
tasks are yielding
more diverse kitchens to handle a
variety of tasks centrally located
to control fresh food contact with
only staff preparing, packaging or
cooking food.
Looking ahead, the design
and construction of food
production facilities will continue
to evolve with technology and
with challenges that arise in the
industries that The Austin Co.
services, Watson said.
Automation will be an
important focus for many
companies, with the number
supermarketperimeter.com
of robot systems increasing
throughout the industry.
Collaborative robots, or cobots,
will take the place of many
human tasks, he said, and
sensor technologies will provide
real-time information to plant
leadership for reporting and
downtime management.
" The food industry continues
to evolve, and sanitary design is
now a top focus for most food
companies, " Watson said. " The
main driver now is on the ability
to clean between production
runs efficiently and the use of
materials of construction that
are better suited for regular
washdown. It's also exciting to
see the advancements in robot
technology and other automation
solutions over the past few years,
including AI. "
Those technologies will
continue to advance and replace
many tasks now performed by
humans, Watson added. They will
have the ability to learn, adapt,
and make decisions, and they're
critical to the industry's survival as
worker shortages and labor cost
increases continue to grow.
OCTOBER 2022 - 61
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Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022

Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - Intro
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - FCa
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - FCb
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 3
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 4
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 5
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 6
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 7
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 8
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 9
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 10
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 11
Supermarket Perimeter - October 2022 - 12
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