How Valves Help Food and Beverage Processors Achieve Higher Output and Increased Efficiency

According to a new report by Transparency Market Research, increased use of valves in the food and beverage industry is a key driver of global valve market growth.

The report attributes the rise in the use of valves to the processed food industry being “challenged with the demanding task of manufacturing products faster than ever before.” Valves help food and beverage processors meet this challenge by assisting them in “maintaining production integrity and standards and increasing time efficiency of a number of operations and processes.”

Read on to learn how valves help food and beverage processors meet their targets and grow their business.

Types of valves used in food and beverage processing

Valves are ubiquitous in food processing plants, no matter what the product. As Kate Kunkel wrote for an article last year in Valve Magazine,

“When wandering the grocery store aisles, it’s easy to forget that for every colorful package that sits on the shelves, a myriad of processes go into preparing the foods inside. Whether it’s cereal, breakfast pastries, cookies, or canned peaches, everything must be either steamed, dehydrated, pulverized, pasteurized, or otherwise treated to fit into the cans, boxes, and cellophane packages. For every one of those processes, valves are employed in many ways…”

Valves used in food and beverage processing can be divided into two categories.

Valves that come into direct contact with food

These valves must meet strict sanitary requirements to ensure no pathogens can grow on them. Food contact valves are typically made out of stainless steel and are often forged rather than cast. They also need to be able to be cleaned and sanitized to meet food safety standards.

Valves that don’t come into direct contact with food

Other valves in a food processing plant are dedicated to non-food contact applications, like utilities. These valves must also meet certain requirements, but they are less strict.

The article by Kate Kunkel referenced above has a great in-depth discussion of the different ways both types of valves contribute to managing steam in food and beverage processing plants.

How valves help food and beverage processors improve their operations

Food and beverage processing is a low-margin industry, with the average profit margin hitting just above 5%. Since food prices are dictated largely by factors outside of processors’ control, the best way to increase profits is by increasing efficiency.

Here are four ways valves can help.

Increasing plant efficiency

Control valves improve efficiency in a couple of ways. First, they reduce process variability to help ensure consistent quality. Second, they improve energy efficiency by allowing for very tight control over the process variables.

Basically, these valves keep everything in your plant running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Boosting food safety

Valves are essential tools in the fight to keep pathogens away from food products. This article in Empowering Valves provides a good discussion of the increasing role of sanitary valves in food and beverage processing. For example, they note that the tight shut-off capabilities of ball and butterfly valves help dairy processors prevent leakage and cross-contamination.

Decreasing unplanned downtime

The Transparency Market Research report emphasized the pressure on food manufacturers to make products faster. Another way they can increase output is by increasing runtime and, conversely, decreasing unplanned downtime.

By keeping the your valves in good working order through proper maintenance, you can guard against costly downtime.

Supporting automation and continuous processing

Automation is one of the biggest forces impacting the food processing industry today. As labor costs rise and food safety regulations tighten, processors are looking for ways to replace manual with automated labor. This goes hand in hand with a shift toward continuous processing, which increases productivity and confers a competitive advantage. Valves play an indispensable role in this process.

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As customers continue to prioritize convenience in their food choices, the processed food market will continue to grow. Having the right valves in your plant can help you stay competitive. Contact us to learn more.

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