Food and beverage manufacturers are unique facilities with demanding energy and performance needs. In fact, 15% of U.S. energy consumption is attributed to the food processing and production industry. The sheer size of these factories means more energy consumption, obviously, but there are other reasons for the higher than average energy consumption too.
For one, most of these food processing plants operate 24/7 in some capacity. Also, cold storage facilities are often a part of these food processing plants, and they are not only operating 24/7, but require a lot of energy to function well and keep food safe. Moreover, to keep your factory productive, you have to run processing lines without disruption, again using more energy with large machinery.
It's clear that high energy consumption is inevitable in this industry, but LED lighting is an easy to implement energy saving solution. You'll start saving right away, and there are other LED benefits specific to the food and beverage manufacturing world too, like increased lighting performance and more sanitary conditions. Learn more below about all of the reasons to choose LED lights in your food processing plant and cold storage facility.
Save Energy and Reduce Carbon Footprint
We've already touched on this, but it's likely the number one reason food and beverage manufacturing businesses make the switch to LED technology. You could save up to 90% of energy as compared to traditional lighting.
More energy efficient also means better for the environment and a smaller carbon footprint. This is obviously better on the whole, but have you considered the marketing implications of a smaller carbon footprint too? 81% of respondents in a global Nielsen study feel strongly that companies should work to improve the environment. And this interest in sustainability spans genders and generations, which you might not expect. Distinguish your company by tracking your corporate social responsibility and being transparent about those figures.
Meet Safety and Certification Requirements
The NSF and other certifying bodies have special requirements for lighting to be deemed food safe, and we have LED lighting that is certified to meet these standards. Here are just some of the standards LED lights can meet:
- IP69K certified, meaning the fixtures can withstand high levels of water jets for cleaning
- NEMA enclosure ratings, meaning the fixtures won't be affected by dust and other particles
- Mercury-free, unlike traditional bulbs, which pose storage, safety, and disposal concerns
- NSF/ANSI certifications to meet splash zone (products judged on smoothness, resistance to corrosion, and ability to be manually cleaned) and food safety (toxicology analysis) requirements
Lower Maintenance and Longer Lifespan
LED lighting products provide much lower maintenance costs than traditional lighting. First, LED lighting simply lasts longer, which means you won't have to change your fixtures out as often, saving you money hiring a lift or bucket truck to reach those elevated lights, and saving your employees' time since you won't have to shut down operations to clear space to change these fixtures. LED lights are also more durable and built to withstand all sorts of hazardous conditions, which means less chances to break and less replacements. They're also designed with less parts, leading to these same benefits.
Increase Employee Productivity
Light levels are regulated in the food processing industry. Here is a chart with needed foot candles for some food-safe spaces. Higher foot candles means brighter light, which means employees can actually see what they're doing, and they can do it with more precision. LEDs are also known for their superior color rendering index, or CRI, which is a measure of how accurately or closely the item or surface being illuminated is to its organic color. Better CRI allows for employees to catch potentially damaged or moldy foods and packaging, and to simply complete tasks more accurately and quickly.
Food processing and manufacturing sometimes requires meticulous tasks that use hazardous tools like knives and blades. Lighting without glare and with good visibility (see CRI and foot candles above) minimizes accidents in these cases.
LED lights are also made without toxic materials like mercury, and they don't have glass-constructed bulbs that can shatter and hurt employees or compromise food.
When LEDs are used in parking lots and other outdoor spaces, you won't get that typical yellow hue from old high intensity discharge lamps that poorly illuminate the ground area. When you have employees working graveyard shifts, it's your job to keep them safe getting to their cars at all hours.
LED lights are designed to turn on instantly without that annoying flickering or warm-up period. When you have employees who rely on quality lighting to begin their work, this extra time is important.
Speaking of warm-up, traditional incandescent lighting loses up to 90% of its emissions as heat. On the contrary, LED lighting runs much cooler, keeping these perishable items safer at lower temperatures. Bonus: this also helps energy efficiency because less heat means running your HVAC less and simply wasting less light as heat. Your fridges and freezers won't work as hard either (more below on cold storage and LED lights).
Cold Food Storage
LED lighting is made to function well in extreme temperatures, unlike other lighting types that can break down in hot or cold environments. And, as mentioned above, LED lights do not emit as much heat, meaning your freezer or refrigerator stays colder without having to actually change the temperature.
We also mentioned the lack of flickering and warm-up time of LED lighting. When an employee needs something in a cold storage area, you don't want them spending more time than they have to in there because every minute is potentially compromising food integrity. Allow them to grab what they need and leave without waiting for lights to turn on.
Sensors, Controls, and Evolving Tech
Modern LED lighting can be equipped with occupancy sensors and controls so lights are only in use when needed, again saving you money.
Beyond this, the LED lighting market is continuously growing. With this demand comes an increase in research and product development. LED lights continue to improve and new features are added all the time. Just one such advancement that affects the food industry is blue LEDs, which have been proven antimicrobial. These are the kinds of breakthroughs you can continue to expect after you invest in LED lighting.