MRO Q&A: Insights on Moisture-Related Issues

Sept. 2, 2009
Welcome to MRO Q&A, a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants. We have assembled a panel of plant operations experts to answer any question you have on plant-floor issues. To pose a question, check out our Plant Maintenance Resoure Center

Q. We seem to be experiencing more moisture related issues in the past few years. Our production volume, maintenance procedures and cleaning schedules have not changed in any significant way. We are struggling to understand the issues. Any insights?

A. Our observations begin with the changes in the types of products we in the food industry are producing. Changing consumer lifestyles and tastes not only have required new products and technologies but also have driven many changes in formulas and flavoring systems for existing products. We need to address these issues while allowing for longer shelf life and away-from-home consumption. As you modify your product formulation, you must understand how the newer formulation of your product reacts to your manufacturing systems for storage, processing, packing and warehousing.

Any attempt to solve problems related to moisture requires an understanding of three key factors; heat, humidity and airflow. Reducing airflow will reduce humidity removal and could increase moisture problems. Check the speeds of your air handling equipment for in/out air flows to ensure optimal operation. Finally re-checking latent heat load could help identify changes in your operational environment.