We talk to Christeyns Food Hygiene’s Engineering Service Manager Delme Tudor about the important role of engineering in today’s food & beverage hygiene industry.
This past year or so there has been more focus on hygiene than ever before. Not only in the food and beverage industry but in all walks of life. There is much discussion about the effectiveness of chemicals, what to use when, the environmental and sustainable aspects, and continued innovation has led to advancements in tackling difficult hygiene issues.
Food safety is never negotiable but keeping production safe is not all about chemicals and cleaning. Hygiene practices do need to be second to none in order to produce food and beverages that are safe for human consumption. But in order to keep the hygiene processes functioning, you need top notch, reliable and relevant engineering solutions that also reduce carbon footprint.
Consider engineering as the backbone of the food hygiene business. Technological advances over the past decade have made a huge difference to operations and as we look forward the future of the industry will rely as much on innovation in engineering as in chemical formula.
Delme Tudor is Engineering Service Manager at Christeyns Food Hygiene, based in Warrington and with his team of engineers is responsible for site projects, plant maintenance and client installations. Sounds pretty simple but it’s a huge part of the company’s operations and one that just about all aspects of the firm’s functions rely heavily on.
The engineering team control the efficiency and safety of the chemical production on site, a COMAH accredited site, upgrading and installing new equipment as required as well as maintaining all the current systems. They also carry out a similar role for client sites as well as providing a huge catalogue of parts and equipment for replacements, running the ordering and supply of all these items.
Delme began his career as an Electrical engineer in the dairy industry. He has over 20 years experience within the food, hygiene and chemical sector both in the UK and overseas. He joined CFH, or Klenzan as it was then, in 2008 as a Projects Engineer to further enhance and develop the engineering side of the business and went on to become Engineering Manager in 2014.
Christeyns Food Hygiene facility has grown from 37,000 sq ft spread over two separate locations in 2008, to a highly modern, efficient and secure COMAH site spanning an area of nearly 4 Acres.
The team tackle all engineering issues and conduct all major plant and production installations on site. As such, complex, multidisciplinary skills as required, including electrically biased and good mechanical skills, Coded TIG Welders and software engineers.
2020 proved to be a most challenging year yet with massive surges in demand to cope with on site and a host of other Covid related issues on and off site.
In April last year an increase in demand for hand gel led to a rapid overhaul of one of the onsite units to accommodate production equipment that would double output and allow the firm to keep up with demand.
The ethanol-based hand hygiene production facility was re-opened in just 3 days. Delme and his team reengineered the production facility to fully maximize its potential without exceeding the complex flammable production constraints. New procedures had to be put in place for the production of the 5 litre packs, with capacity for up to 5 tonnes per day.
Also on site, there were new tanks to install, planned to provide increased bulk storage capacity for chemicals by an extra 240 tonnes. The engineering team designed, installed and commissioned the tanks, dealing with Covid delays throughout the project.
With food producers working night and day, customers needed rapid response to every day manufacturing issues yet the pandemic also meant the usual supply chain could not necessarily be relied on. The team had to work hard to ensure that no customer was let down with parts and items they needed, relying on the high stock levels of key items that had been built up onsite in anticipation.
“It was an incredibly busy time, many of our engineering suppliers were closed yet food processing and manufacturing plants were working at an increased output. If a chemical delivery pump stops working, it’s business critical for many customers, so it was crucial that the team were able to support our customers. This meant looking harder to find a different supplier or installing an alternative from our large stock selection, but no one was let down.”
The engineering team also handle engineering sales, supplying parts to customers and run an extensive catalogue. This area is headed up by Dave Stokes who offers detailed technical support on a range of items including chemical dosing equipment, low & medium pressure cleaning and pumping equipment and consumable engineering parts.
Some items in the equipment catalogue have been designed and developed by the engineering team on site in Warrington, such as the telemetry system and containerised CIP and OPC systems which fit inside a standard 20ft container, freeing up factory space and reducing installation time on site.
During the pandemic safety equipment and fogging machines were in particularly high demand and the team are constantly looking for new suppliers, bringing in more products from Europe and broadening the portfolio. Offering different hygiene ranges and keeping up with innovation means they are able to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Due to the size of the production facility at Warrington Delme is now mostly site-based but oversees the team who cover customer sites across the UK and Ireland. Many new customers also came on board during 2020, which involved a great deal of work behind the scenes arranging the transition from existing suppliers and installing new chemical application and pumping equipment.
It’s a proficient and expert team that run the show at CFH but it’s not easy to find engineers with the required skill set so to fill the void CFH bring in apprentices and upskill with a mix of on-the-job training and in-college learning.
“It is not a Monday to Friday- 9-5 role,” explains Delme. We are often the first ones in and the last to leave each day and there can be lot of travelling. However, the advancements in technology and the lockdown situation have forced an increased use of online platforms such as Teams. Mobile phones can take video clips aiding visual communication and the ability to diagnose from afar. It’s likely there will be less need to travel in the future as we have proved that many issues can be solved without a physical presence.”
Providing flexible solutions for cleaning and sanitizing, tailored to individual needs is what Christeyns Food Hygiene does best. With around 30 years of experience, it is one of the UK’s most trusted providers of industrial hygiene solutions, working across the food, beverage, brewing, dairy and pharmaceutical industries.
The onset of COvid-19 has shown just how crucial the provision of hygiene supplies has been in keeping key industry sectors running, not just medical but food and drink related industries. Behind the provision of the chemicals however is the engineering skillset of companies like Christeyns Food Hygiene that hold it all together. Constantly upgrading, forever adapting and modernising.
If your pump fails, who are you gonna call?