Mart Wicker, Food Product Manager at Polygon, has over 22 years of experience in the food production industry. At Polygon, Mart has gotten an up close and personal look at the worst-case scenarios of what can happen when food production facilities do not have adequate climate control. We sat down with Mart to learn what his clients can expect from us and what questions they ask along the way.
Q: What are some challenges you’ve helped clients overcome with food plants?
A: The biggest help we can provide is avoiding a shutdown due to condensation and/or other climate issues that aren't within the facility's HACCP plan. We have also helped some facilities address issues with employee health, safety, and retention by providing visibility into toxic gas levels and proper climate control such as AC during the summer months, and heaters during winter.
Q: Why do clients turn to Polygon instead of competitors?
A: Our reputation is well-known in the food production industry. Customers know that we are creating a custom solution based on the specific layout and needs of their facility – not just renting the equipment. They know that we understand the facility's process guidelines and can help clients stay in compliance while meeting budgetary and timing constrictions.
Q: How have you helped a client avoid a shutdown?
A: When it comes to perishable products time is of the essence, by knowing the importance of the plants' guidelines of staying in control of the facility's safety and HACCP plans we can get up and running faster than our competitors. On many occasions, our quick response and turnaround time in getting a proper solution to the customer has helped avoid production stoppages.
Q: When a facility shuts down due to contamination or toxic gas exposure, what steps does the Polygon team take to get it running again? How long does that process take?
A: First, the client’s facilities team will assess the situation to determine what actions need to be taken. If they need outside help, Polygon does a site evaluation to gather information about the issue(s). We will scope a solution often using our engineering and technology team to optimize equipment selections according to requirements. We will discuss the solution with the customer and explain the rationale, alternatives, and tradeoffs. Once a solution is agreed upon, Polygon’s operations team schedules and implements the installation. Depending on the severity of the issue(s), the process can take up to 1-3 days turnaround. The quicker we can deliver a solution the better. Our operations technicians will often make adjustments to improve performance as we learn, or things change.
Q: Are there any commonly overlooked strategies that could help prevent shutdowns?
A: An issue we've seen come up a lot is a facility’s failure to conduct air flow studies when there is a change to process flow. Contaminated air might start flowing into a clean room causing cross-contamination and/or chemical exposure in areas of a facility that are not ventilated properly to process this type of air. We can detect and remedy this using ExactAire toxic gas monitors to spot and measure the problem. Then use the real-time data to turn our equipment or house equipment on and off to control the airflow in the facility and avoid contamination.
Q: How do you see climate control for food plants evolving over the next 5-10 years?
A: The demands in the food industry are extremely high. When a food facility is in a crisis, we are the ones they call, to not only provide a solution for the plant but also help them avoid a shutdown, a loss in the employees' wages, and production shortages for the plant. With the advancement of remote monitoring and control technology, we hope that in the next 5-10 years we can help our clients address issues proactively. With our reporting capabilities, we hope to predict when a facility will need our services and have a plan in place to act before an issue comes up. This will result in smoother, safer, and more profitable production for the industry.
Contact us today to learn more about how Polygon can help your facility prevent or respond to moisture problems.