Layout Models for the Food Processing Industry

Read this article. The topic focuses on the most efficient and effective layout model for food production. Can you identify one advantage of modifying an existing layout to increase efficiency?

1. Introduction

A facility may be a machine tool, a work centre, a manufacturing cell, a machine shop, a department, or a warehouse, and a facility layout is an arrangement of everything needed for production of goods or delivery of services. An efficient layout would ensure increased productivity. Determining the physical organisation of a production system is defined as the facility layout problem (FLP). It is difficult to resolve due to inherent conflicting objectives and constraints. FLP is known to have a significant impact upon the manufacturing costs, work process, lead time, and productivity. FLP is even more difficult in the food processing industry. Failing to produce food items according to hygiene standards has a direct influence on production efficiency through loss of production and has an even greater effect through loss of consumer confidence. Lapses in ensuring food hygiene can also lead to prosecution in criminal court for negligence and can cause major financial losses to companies.

Food safety and hygiene therefore play a major role in industry and food quality is the result of numerous factors such as physical, biochemical, and microbiological characteristics. Therefore, it is imperative that these factors are considered in layout design in the food processing industry. Many practices such as the hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) or good manufacturing practices (GMP) attempt to ensure food safety and hygiene requirements in the food manufacturing process. In order to align with these requirements, layouts need to focus on segregating the work area to control hazards and prevent contamination of the products being manufactured. This focus will ensure that the layouts comply with the requirements of the food industry and avoid modifications required later that usually result in additional costs. However, little research on FLP considering the unique manufacturing requirements of the food processing industry is reported in the literature. Therefore, this paper formulates a model that simplifies the layout planning process for the food processing facilities (FPF). A generalised framework that helps to visualise the FLP was initially developed. Then, a layout model for FPF was proposed considering the unique features that need to be present in the layout. A case study was finally conducted by changing the layout of a malted milk powder processing facility in Sri Lanka according to the proposed model.

The next section of the paper presents the literature review. Section 3 describes the developed framework to visualise the FLP and the layout model is proposed in Section 4. Section 5 evaluates the proposed framework and the model. Results and discussion are presented in Section 6 followed by the conclusion in the last section.