What Consumes the Most Electricity in the Meat Production Industry

industrial plantDuring the meat production process, electricity usage typically only comes into play during the meat processing stage, in electric motor-driven systems like conveyors and auxiliary equipment, as well as refrigeration, cooking, heating, boilers, sterilization, and steam generation. This accounts for a huge chunk of electricity usage in the United States, where more than 70% goes to applications in the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

These kinds of processes usually fall within the job duties and responsibilities of an industrial electrician, who is responsible for the electrical controls, equipment, and wiring within the meat processing plant. The responsibility for the installation, repair, testing, and maintenance of these systems, as well as the responsibility for making sure that they are up to code, fall upon the shoulders of the industrial electrician. This means that if you wish to cut back on your electricity usage within the meat processing phase, the first person you should talk to is your industrial electrician. Most times, a reduction in a meat processing plant’s electric consumption can be achieved by improving the efficiency of its motor-driven systems. Doing so may yield an average reduction of about 5 to 15% of electric consumption.

equipmentFor instance, if your meat processing plant is equipped with an electric motor with a conveyor, which types of equipment are almost always on, at a possible operating average of 4,000 hours/year, such equipment inevitably drives the electricity bill higher. But an electrician can help you can reduce your electricity consumption by the installation and use of high-efficient motors. For that matter, you can almost always keep your electricity consumption down by making sure that your electrical equipment and in-house electrical systems are well-maintained and up-to-date, and by upgrading your equipment whenever necessary. New technologies that come out are almost always geared towards efficient energy consumption, delivering the same or better performance at lower levels of electrical usage. In this way, you can keep your electricity bill reasonably low.

For the reasons stated above, it is always a good idea for a meat processing plant of any size to hire its own industrial electrician who is tasked with making sure that all the electrical equipment are running smoothly and efficiently, and who will make the necessary repairs and bring in needed upgrades whenever necessary. Industrial electricians are duly licensed to do electrical work in such an industrial setting, and they have the required training and what are usually years of apprenticeship and hands-on-experience in their trade. The smooth running of the electrical systems of a meat processing plant has that level of complexity and specialization as opposed to more general electrical work that you will certainly want to hire one who is suitably qualified for the job.

How Electricians Support the Meat Production Industry

bullThe services of an electrician are extremely necessary for an industrial setting, no matter the industry. Some of the responsibilities of an industrial electrician range from the installation of electrical systems, communication systems, and fire and security systems. Installation, wiring, and maintenance of electrical equipment and the proper functioning of electronic controls are also part of the job description of an industrial electrician, and all of these together is central to the proper functioning and productivity of an industry. But in the meat production industry, electrical services start long before any electrical production equipment are even needed.

The meat production industry starts with the rearing and care of livestock, or what is called the pre-slaughter stage of the meat production industry. The quality of the meat product depends largely upon the state of the livestock, to begin with, and any farm requires a fully functioning electrical system in place to provide continuous lighting, heating, and water solutions.

In order to provide all these, the electrician is expected to work with detailed schematics in the installation and continued maintenance of power sources, wiring, outlets, lights, heat, signal devices, circuits, fuse boxes, power meters, relays, switches, and all the different variables that make the entire farm’s electrical system fully functional. Also, the installation of cables, backup power sources, and communication lines help in the continued operation of the administrative side of a farm. And all of these are expected to comply with fire regulations and building codes and standards.

So even during the pre-slaughter stage, the services of an electrician are extremely necessary for the cultivation of the livestock being farmed for their meat.

Immediately after the slaughter phase, some form of freezing or refrigeration, usually electrically powered, are necessary to preserve the carcass before any further processing. Freezing and refrigeration processes are again another area in which the services of an electrician are necessary. The continued smooth operation of freezing chambers or freezers depends to a large extent on a continuous power supply and the proper maintenance of the freezers. Such freezers as are used in the meat production industry are necessarily large enough to accommodate different heads of livestock all at the same time. If you are working with beef from cattle, for instance, you would certainly need a sizeable freezing chamber to accommodate several carcasses all at once. The risk otherwise is losing precious meat that has been cultivated for several years before they were considered viable meat products. Failure to properly provide freezing solutions to prolong the shelf life of meat products can severely hamper the entire meat production process if the quality of the meat itself is compromised. The installation, proper operation, and the regular repair and maintenance of such freezers should be done by a licensed electrician, if you want the work to be done properly, efficiently, and safely.

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And lastly, competent and professional electrical services are necessary for the final stage of the meat production process, the processing of meat and meat products. There are basic electrical requirements in any industry, such as the proper installation of electrical systems, telecommunication systems, and safety installations like fire and security alarms. One also needs a professional electrician for the proper installation of electronic and electrical equipment needed during the actual production phase itself – in this case, the meat processing stage, where meat is cut, ground up, smoked, preserved, frozen, and packaged. And as with most industrial operations, building specifications and electrical systems must adhere to legal and safety codes and standards.

It is true that with proper installation, many industrial types of equipment can function productively for years without needing any maintenance work. There are those who take the smooth operations of their equipment as a matter of course. They don’t realize that regular preventive maintenance checks can go a long way in keeping long-term costs low, and in ensuring the smooth and continuous operation of the meat production industry as a whole. This is possible even with the occasional electrical blackouts, and certainly even with any minor hitches that may result from failing or worn out equipment. Any needed repairs should be done quickly, and as non-intrusively as possible, in order not to stall production for too long. And to achieve this kind of preparedness, it is necessary to have the services of an electrical contractor who would have the necessary expertise, training, and experience to provide these very same services.

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In fact, conducting regular maintenance work on an industry’s electrical system and electrical equipment is advisable because it ensures the smooth running of the factory’s operations. Also, this also provides the electrical contractor with enough experience and familiarity with the system itself so that quick action can be taken should anything actually goes wrong. But of course, conducting regular maintenance checks enables the trained electrician to catch potential troubles before they actually happen, which makes the cost of maintenance far cheaper than the alternative.

The Role of Refrigeration Electricians in Meat Preservation

The invention of food preservation through refrigeration and freezing technology has been the cornerstone of the growth of the modern meat production industry.

The main processes by which meat can be preserved are either canning, drying, or freezing. Canning involves the use of a pressure canner at optimal temperatures that would also kill bacteria and prevent spoilage. The meat itself is kept in a solution of brine or some other preservative to prolong its shelf life. Drying, on the other hand, involves heating and dehydrating the meat before storage to preserve its shelf life.

As a third option, freezing is a way of preserving meat in its most raw form, and this is effective without any preservation solution, or any heating or dehydrating processes. Freezing is, in a way, a method of preserving meat effectively until it reaches the consumer, still in its most raw form, albeit it has been properly prepared in appropriate packaging.

Without refrigeration, meat needed to be consumed as soon as possible after livestock had been slaughtered, else canning and drying are the only means left by which meat can be prevented from spoiling over a long period of time.

That said, refrigeration technology is used extensively by some of the biggest names in the meat industry, and they have equipped cars, houses, and other cold storage facilities with this technology as a way of preserving meat quality for longer periods of time.

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It is an electrician’s job to service refrigeration systems in case of problems or malfunctions, and whenever any repairs are needed. Most electrical work is regulated by states, reserving this dangerous field of work to professional electricians who have the appropriate training, education, and experience in dealing with the unique dangers of electricity. But an added level of monitoring is set over any work done on refrigerant circuits, and only licensed electricians can do this type of work, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While not, strictly speaking, “electrical” work when you are dealing with refrigerant, a measure of regulation is still exercised where only licensed Simi Valle electricians are allowed to do this type of work. This is because some competency is needed in handling refrigerant so that it doesn’t escape into the atmosphere and contribute to the deterioration of the ozone layer. The environmental impact otherwise is strong enough that pretty heavy fines are imposed upon those who do this kind of work informally and without the appropriate license.

Different Uses of Electricity in the Meat Production Industry

With the rising demand for meat worldwide, the need for stepping up production in the meat industry has led to the industrialization of meat processing, involving the use of various electrical machines and equipment geared towards the efficient production, preservation, and processing of meat and meat products to meet consumer demand. Mechanizing the meat processing system enables the faster and more efficient production of meat and meat products to meet this growing demand, and various methods of preservation enables the efficient storage and extension of the shelf life of these meat products. To be able to do all these, however, one needs to rely on processing technology, which in the larger industries are driven by electricity and energy.

stufferTo be able to fully equip the meat production industry with the appropriate technology that would deliver the intended products, the services of an industrial electrician is needed. Industrial electricians specialize in the installation, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of electrical equipment and their electronic controls, specifically used in factories and industrial establishments.

And because all of this equipment is needed to function together smoothly, and in concert to maintain production goals in meeting demand, the services of a professional electrician is needed – for installation, maintenance, repairs, troubleshooting, and for the addition of necessary upgrades when warranted.

But there is so much more that is required in the smooth operations of a meat processing plant or meat factory. The power supply should constantly be maintained, with backup power generators for emergencies. The electrical and electronic equipment must be tested for current, voltage and continuity, as well as switchgear, transformers, regulators, alternators, batteries, control systems, and the necessary maintenance and calibration of all industrial instruments and devices.

Some of the electrical equipment you might find in a meat factory, and meat processing plant includes:

  • Meat grinder or Mincer

meat grinderThis is a machine where meat or meat trimmings are fed into a cylinder, where they are then cut by rotating knives and grinding plates, after which the meat is compressed and exits through holes, now minced into smaller particles. How small the meat particles will be is determined by the holes in the grinding plates.

While there are manual types of meat grinders that can be operated without electricity, these are mostly utilized in small-scale meat production operations. For larger industries, larger meat grinders which run on motors are used.

  • Smokehouses

Traditionally, smokehouses work through the burning of wood, whether hardwood sawdust or pieces of log and these are still used in small-scale operations to this day.

More modern smokehouses feature innovations such as smoking chambers in special smoke generators where one has greater control over the quantity, temperature, and purity of the smoke. Smoke may then be generated either through gas flames or electric heating plates applied to sawdust, friction wherein timber or logs are pressed against a fast rotating steel drum, or through the application of steam on sawdust to generate smoke.

The smoke produced is then conveyed into the smoking chamber, but it is interesting to note that these modern smokehouses allow for so much more control. One can automate the amount of smoke, the temperature, and even the chemical composition of the smoke to minimize undesirable particles such as tar and other hazardous substances such as benzopyrene.

  • Bowl cutters

Bowl cutters are chopping equipment consisting of curved knives attached to a revolving bowl, rotating at high speeds to cut or chop meat into small or lean pieces and particles.

Large and high-speed bowl cutters are obviously dangerous equipment, which is why they are often equipped with a strong cover and gears by which a person can adjust the speed with which it operates.

There are some bowl-cutter/meat grinder combination equipment available for large operations that wish to speed up the process, as both works towards the same process of rendering meat into smaller particles.

  • Frozen meat cutters

These are heavy-duty cutting machines that chop or cut frozen meat into smaller pieces without the need to thaw them out first. This can either be knives moving in a vertical direction, similar to a guillotine, or frozen meat cutters that carve out particles from blocks of frozen meat. Either way, the smaller pieces of meat can then be ground up or cut with bowl cutters without the need of thawing.

  • Tumbler or Massager

This equipment is for protein extraction as well as the even distribution of brine, salt, and phosphates. The meat is tumbled and rotated around by steel paddles equipped inside a rotating drum. This process can take anywhere from four hours or more. Thus proper hygiene practices are necessary to keep the meat fresh and uncontaminated. Temperature levels are also closely monitored to prevent microbial growth.

These are separate functions performed by separate machines. Some of these machines are available for smaller meat processing operations and can be operated manually. But again, with the need to increase production to meet the rising demand for meat, electrically operated machines and equipment that run on motors are necessary.