PET Food Processing - October 2020 - 41

NEW CONSTRUCTION

FROM THE

GROUND
UP
What new processing facilities are coming online in North
America and which pandemic adaptations might be included?
By Jennifer Semple | jsemple@sosland.com

©Uladzimir - stock.adobe.com

N

Now that every single space in a processing plant from
the front door to the loading dock must be evaluated to
protect employees from virus transmission, what a benefit it would be to start from scratch and design a new
plant in this era of social distancing. Much time and
effort is required to complete new processing facilities
and some that have gone online recently or will be commissioned in the next several months may not have had
much flexibility to scrap their plans and start over keeping COVID-19 in mind. But for those projects that have
had the opportunity to accommodate pandemic planning into their new construction, there are a few changes
one might expect to see.
"The current climate has increased considerations of
communicable diseases in general, not just COVID-19
but any future virus," said Dennis Collins, AIA, senior
architect, CRB, Kansas City, Mo. "Processors are thinking about how to avoid and/or be better prepared to
maintain operations and minimize operational distributions. Consider such things as one-way traffic flows for
personnel in and out of the facility, hands-free devices
including door operators, plumbing fixtures, soap and
towel dispensers, and increasing spacing in lockers and

toilet facilities. Many of these we had already been incorporating into our building designs to increase food
safety in general."
Safety of the workers has impacted the design and operation in most factories.
"Heightened hygiene protocols, increased handwashing, PPE and social distancing requirements are only a
few of the design considerations that need to be taken
for existing and new processing facilities," said Pablo
Coronel, Ph.D., director, food processing and food
safety, CRB Process Authority. "This requirement is also
pushing to an increase in automated control systems
that will help keep the number of personnel down and
could assist in keeping the operators healthy."
COVID-19 risk can be mitigated with changes to both
the facility design and the facility management.
"Through facility design, designers can really have
a large impact due to concepts such as directing the
circulation of employees and visitors within the facility, creating separation at employee workstations, adding air filtration and circulation, selecting appropriate
construction materials, increasing design elements
that are hands-free, and implementing new health and

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PET Food Processing - October 2020

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