Stellar recently completed a new, state-of-the-art hatchery for poultry processor Bell & Evans. The facility — which is the first certified organic, humane, animal-welfare focused chick hatchery in the United States — is an example of trailblazing a new approach to traditional food processing.
Not only does it employ fascinating and cutting-edge technology, but this food processing project contains lessons for any food manufacturer looking to pioneer or experiment in their own particular market.
Regardless of what sector of the food industry you are in, there are important factors to consider before investing in a new technology or adventuring into uncharted territory in plant processing.
1. Take the time to get it right
This may seem obvious, but it’s critical to do your homework and truly understand what you’re getting yourself into before committing to something new. Speed-to-market can be a big factor in the fast-paced food industry, but diving in unprepared is worse than never diving in at all. To get it right first, first get it right. Be sure to share expectations with the process provider and fully understand their expectations to avoid potential misunderstandings later on. It may take a few extra weeks, but it’s worth it.
2. Think about space
Adding a new process typically means more (or different) equipment, which typically translates to more space. Consider your current plant layout, space restrictions and what you’ll need to make these new changes. Remember to not just think about your needs for tomorrow but to also consider future growth and what space you may need down the road.
3. Consider cost
Of course, exploring a new process isn’t free, but there may be costs associated with a change that aren’t immediately evident. Create a long-term plan and consider working with a strategic partner to ensure success within your budget.
4. Engineering time for equipment
Whether it’s a revolutionary process or newly introduced equipment, whoever you’re partnering with to make upgrades will likely require more time to do the engineering. It’s a brand new technology or innovation, which means your partner or equipment provider hasn’t done it a lot either — it takes time to figure out what’s best for you. If you are trying to get something to market quickly, be sure to share that with your equipment provider to confirm your timeline is possible, let alone realistic.
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