In this blog post air filtration expert, Berni Baier, breaks down the beverage processing industry, explores various considerations for beverage manufacturers, and shares his recommendations to maintain beverage product standards.
According to the Government of Canada, the food and beverage processing industry accounts for 17% of total manufacturing sales and for 2% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP)1. In considering this statistic, it is clear that maintaining product standards, employee safety, and customer satisfaction are important in reinforcing the longevity of the industry. These endeavors can be accomplished in part with the right clean air solutions.
What is the Beverage Production Process?
There are various beverage types that require a high level of hygiene in the processing stages. Some key beverages are: dairy, soft drinks, and juice. These beverages all entail different manufacturing processes. According to Berni Baier, “Due to new technology being incorporated in more and more processes and the cost of energy forcing companies to package products safely but without using heat for disinfecting, air filtration has become a much more important factor for most.”
In order to procure milk and subsequently other dairy products, farmers attach mechanical vacuum milking machines to the udders of cows that have recently given birth. This raw milk flows through the vacuum to a bulk milk tank, where it is cooled to approximately 4.4 degrees celsius. Once the milk is tested and the flavour and temperature are deemed acceptable, it is collected and sent to a milk processing plant, where it is transferred to refrigerated tanks. Soon after, the milk is passed through a clarifier to remove bacteria and other solid matter, and vitamins are added with a peristaltic pump. The milk is then piped through a pasteurizer to kill any remaining bacteria. This is typically accomplished via a high-temperature, short-time (HTST) process and the milk may then be homogenized before cooling occurs. To transport the milk to vendors, it is pumped into cartons, plastic bags, or bottles and then sealed. As a final step, the packaged milk is placed in protective shipping containers and kept refrigerated.
Once the manufacturing process is complete for a given day, inner surfaces and plant equipment must be cleaned. To ensure sanitary conditions, clean-in-place systems are incorporated that allows solvents to run through the system and then be flushed clean2.
Most soft drinks follow the same general manufacturing process. Water, sugars, acid, colouring, and flavouring agents are all common ingredients involved. In most cases, water is clarified and filtered to remove bacteria and impurities. Then, required ingredients are mixed to form what is called a “syrup”. This syrup is pumped into a dosing station where it is sterilized with a cooling and heating process. If necessary, carbon dioxide (carbonation or fizziness) is added to the syrup via a carbonation machine. As a last step, the soft drinks are filled and packed into cartons or trays automatically3.
Juices follow a somewhat similar manufacturing process as soft drinks. However, a key difference lies in the addition of real fruit or vegetable flavouring. To add these ingredients, they are first washed thoroughly. The produce is then pressed with machines to extract the juices, and lastly they are heat pasteurized for food hygiene purposes. Alternatively, juices can be cleansed through high pressure processing (HPP)4. At this point, the juices can be combined with other ingredients common in soft drink production, or they can be packaged and transported as is.
What Are Key Considerations in Beverage Production?
Depending on the application, some considerations may be more relevant than others. Some of the most common aspects that manufacturers should consider include the following:
With most beverage types, bacterial contamination is a concern. It can impact flavouring and taste, which can lead to unsatisfied customers. It can also be a health hazard for customers as well as the plant workers handling raw materials. In dairy production, the bacteria in raw milk can contaminate equipment and other milk batches. Likewise, in soft drink and water manufacturing, if water is not filtered adequately it can affect quality and the safety of workers and customers. In juice production, bacteria can remain on fruits and vegetables and can be blended into the drinks if not washed properly. Some of the most common microbial pathogens found on produce are Yclospora cayetanensis, E-coli, Hepatitis A, Listeria monocytogenes, Norovirus, and Salmonella. Contaminated produce can cause death among consumers as well as many illnesses5.
High Dust Loads
Sugars in soft drinks and some juices can create high amounts of dust. This can cause various issues. One of these issues involve a hard casing that forms onto dust collector cartridges or bags as a result of dust and moisture mixing, rendering filters ineffective. Another issue with high dust loads is that it can load very quickly in filters. If filter changes are infrequent and there is a decrease in source capture air volume, explosions may occur in the facility.
For more on dust and other concerns in powder applications: Challenges In Confectionery and Powder Applications
Environmental concerns are particularly relevant in dairy production. To maintain the health of dairy cows, they must be fed frequently and be provided with various nutrients. As a result, dairy cows produce vast amounts of manure and in turn substantial amounts of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Poor handling of manure can degrade local water resources and contribute to climate change6. That being the case, dairy farmers should seek to reduce environmental impacts with certain technologies such as biogas. Although environmental matters are primarily a concern in dairy production, other beverage manufacturers should also take care to reduce energy consumption in their manufacturing process.
For more on reducing environmental impacts with biogas: Renewable Energy Creation in Canada With Biogas
Moisture and Steam
In every food and beverage manufacturing facility, equipment must be washed down with hot water and cleaning fluids. The mist produced from this sanitation process contributes to humidity in the air. This can result in high volumes of moisture reaching air handling units (AHUs). In the case that beverage manufacturing facilities are applying air filters that use recirculated air, the filters should be fairly moisture resistant.
How Can Air Filtration Address Concerns in Beverage Manufacturing?
For water applications, HEPA filters are ideal tools for producing clean water – a human right, just like clean air. Therefore, we recommend the Absolute HEPA filter or Filtra 2000 as they effectively remove 99.97% of particles at 0.3 micron and offer the utmost protection.
For concerns regarding moisture and steam, we suggest the application of various products. In the first air filtration stage, the 30/30 Dual 9 can be installed to trap larger debris and reduce pressure drop. This MERV 9/9A filter is available in 2” or 4”, and is guaranteed to last 9-12 months depending on the application. As a more water resistant option, we also offer the 30/30 WR. In the second air filtration stage, the Cam-Flo XLT can be installed, which is a high strength synthetic media bag filter that can be used in hostile environments.
As a final note, environmental concerns brought about by the dairy industry and biogas can be mitigated via the ProCarb Horizontal Deep Bed (HDB) Biogas Filter. This molecular filtration system is designed to ensure the highest level of performance for biogas applications. It has a safe and easy installation process and operation, requiring minimal routine maintenance.
There are a variety of factors that determine which clean air solutions work best for beverage manufacturing. Be sure to contact an experienced air filtration consultant to find products right for your building.
About Camfil Canada Clean Air Solutions
For more than half a century, Camfil has been helping people breathe cleaner air. As a leading manufacturer of premium clean air solutions, we provide commercial and industrial systems for air filtration and air pollution control that improve worker and equipment productivity, minimize energy use, and benefit human health and the environment. We firmly believe that the best solutions for our customers are the best solutions for our planet, too. That’s why every step of the way – from design to delivery and across the product life cycle – we consider the impact of what we do on people and on the world around us. Through a fresh approach to problem-solving, innovative design, precise process control, and a strong customer focus we aim to conserve more, use less and find better ways – so we can all breathe easier.
The Camfil Group is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and has 33 manufacturing sites, six R&D centers, local sales offices in 30 countries, and about 4,800 employees and growing. We proudly serve and support customers in a wide variety of industries and in communities across the world. To discover how Camfil Canada can help you to protect people, processes and the environment, visit us at www.camfil.com/en-ca/.
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