Steam Boiler Guide for Food & Beverage Processing
Most people don’t realize how essential steam boilers are to the food and beverage industry. Meat plants, poultry processing plants, and other food processing companies rely heavily on boiler steam for many different functions. Nearly every aspect of our food supply chain to grocery stores and restaurants involves steam or hot water produced by a boiler in one way or another. Let’s take a closer look at how modular steam boilers maximize facility efficiency in the food and beverage industry.
Steam Boiler Challenges Food Processors Face
While steam heat serves many purposes in the food processing industry, the boilers themselves often present their own challenges. Most food manufacturers don’t require full steam 24/7; instead, the demand for steam varies along their production lines at different times of the day. However, most conventional boilers require hours of downtime for warmup and cooldown, which means food processing plants must keep their boilers up and running even when steam demand is at a minimum. This, of course, results in lowered energy efficiency, higher fuel costs, and even difficulty complying with the greenhouse emissions standards in some states. For this reason, the plant’s choice of steam boiler can have a significant impact on productivity and efficiency.
The Role of Steam Boilers in Food Processing
Steam heat plays an integral role in food production in numerous ways. Let’s explore the most common and essential applications.
Sterilization and Disinfecting
Food safety is always among the top priorities for food processing companies. To ensure the foods and beverages produced are safe for public consumption, it’s essential for food processing plants to clean, sterilize, and disinfect all tools, utensils, and surfaces used in food production. Safety has become all the more critical with the coronavirus pandemic as food processors must now go through additional protocols to keep both their plant workers and their outgoing products safe. It’s not all that different from a hospital operating room, where all surgical tools require sterilization before and after an operation. All utensils and surfaces need to be clear of any germs or bacteria before preparing food. Steam from a boiler is typically the best and safest option for sterilizing and disinfecting utensils and surfaces to meet the guidelines set of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FDA, and now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reducing Microbiological Risks
Surface contamination isn’t the only concern with food safety; there are also inherent risks of microbiological contamination on or in the foods themselves — bacteria and microbes that cause food-borne illnesses. Steam pasteurization is an effective method of controlling the microbial risks of food processing. Having quality steam from an industrial boiler makes this process a lot easier to carry out.
Cooking, Curing, and Drying
Some food processing companies do a lot of cooking before their food is ready for the general public. While there are many ways to cook or pre-cook food, doing so with both steam and hot water produced by boilers is one of the best ways to ensure the food is smooth, soft, and easy to digest once it gets to consumers. More complex processes like curing and drying certain food products require steam, too. Since food processing is typically a large-scale operation, large volumes of steam and hot water are needed at least some of the time.
Heating the Facility
Food processing companies rely not only on efficient machinery but also on their employees’ hard work. Climate control is essential in these plants to maximize productivity and keep workers safe. Thus, in many cases, the same steam boiler system that helps with the various stages of food production also provides heat for the plant itself.
How to Choose a Steam Boiler for a Food Processing Facility
To meet the many challenges and demands faced by food processing facilities, the choice of a steam boiler can make a significant difference in a company’s productivity and bottom line. Here are a few crucial aspects to look for in a reliable steam boiler.
Adaptable to Fluctuating Demands
Food processing companies require large volumes of steam, but they aren’t always running full throttle 24/7. Some days require more steam than others, and certain times of day can be busier than others, depending on the tasks. A boiler system that can power up and down quickly will help prevent operations from being interrupted when demand increases, saving on fuel costs when steam is not needed.
Fuel and Water Efficiency
Rising fuel and water costs can quickly complicate budgets and start digging into profits, so it’s essential to find a boiler that can help with energy efficiency and conserving resources without sacrificing productivity. Companies in certain areas also face certain emissions restrictions, so a boiler rated to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions is a definite plus.
Ease of Maintenance
With steam boilers required for so many different tasks, keeping up with maintenance is essential for food processing companies. If boilers start to show a reduction in productivity or need to be shut down for repairs, it can interrupt the entire processing plant’s operations. Steam boilers designed for low maintenance and easy self-diagnostics can help resolve small maintenance issues before they turn into big ones.
The Best Food & Beverage Boiler
Many food and beverage companies have found that Miura steam boilers are ideal for helping them meet their daily steam needs. With their ability to start producing steam from a cold startup within five minutes, Miura’s water tube boilers are more fuel-efficient than traditional fire tube boilers. With the smaller size of Miura boilers, it’s also easier to install multiple boilers rather than relying on one. Combined with the quick startup times, it is easy for Miura boilers to respond to sudden spikes in steam demand. Equipped with state-of-the-art monitoring and diagnostics systems, Miura boilers keep up with high demands while remaining in excellent condition.
We invite you to see for yourself how Miura boilers can improve efficiency, safety, and productivity for your food processing facility while helping keep costs down. Use our rep locator to find a representative in your area who can help.