How to Use Thermal Curtains to Maintain Optimal Temperature Control in the Food Industry

How to Use Thermal Curtains to Maintain Optimal Temperature Control in the Food Industry

Temperature and humidity levels need to be carefully controlled by facilities that store and distribute food, particularly perishable foods like meat, dairy, seafood, and produce. A properly maintained environment ensures quality control and compliance with regulations from agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Temperature control in large, industrial buildings can be a challenge. Heating and cooling systems, of course, play a key role, but businesses are challenged to maintain different sections of the facility at different temperatures. Thermal insulated curtains offer an effective solution to creating discrete temperature zones in food storage and distribution facilities. How do these industrial curtains work? How can they be put to work in your business?

Insulated Curtain Applications

Thermal curtains are made of vinyl and interior insulation. Depending on the R-value of the curtains, they can offer a temperature differential of 22 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Any facility that handles and stores foods likely has varying temperature and humidity requirements. Temperature control curtains can be used in:

  • Food and beverage manufacturing facilities
  • Food and beverage distribution warehouses
  • Facility loading dock areas
  • Storage areas for produce, dry goods, beverages, floral products, and pharmaceuticals

Benefits of Thermal Curtains

Temperature and humidity control is the primary benefit of thermal curtains, but insulated curtains also offer:

  • Durability. The vinyl and insulation layer of thermal curtains are extremely durable and easy to wash down. Additionally, this material is resistant to mildew and some chemicals.
  • Energy savings. Thermal curtains can dramatically reduce a food storage facility’s energy costs. By creating separate temperature zones, large facilities can heat or cool smaller areas more efficiently when the edges are sealed.
  • Acoustic value. While not specifically designed for noise control, thermal insulated curtains do have some acoustic value, which can be beneficial in large, industrial settings.

Curtain Options

Insulated curtains can either be retractable or stationary, customizable based on the needs of the individual facility. When it comes to temperature control needs, a higher R-value translates into higher thermal resistance. Facilities that handle food can choose from curtains such as:

  • R-25 insulated curtain walls. R-25 insulated rigid curtain walls have six inches of inner insulation: two inches of rigid material and four inches of soft compressed material. With this higher R-value, these curtains are able to maintain a maximum temperature difference of 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Learn more about AmCraft’s insulated thermal curtains and how they can be put to work in the food storage and distribution sector.

Sources:

  1. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/
  2. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/medium-insulated-curtain-wall/
  3. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/heavy-flexible-insulated-curtain-wall/
  4. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/heaviest-rigid-insulated-curtain-wall/
  5. https://www.fda.gov/files/food/published/Evaluation-and-Definition-of-Potentially-Hazardous-Foods.pdf
  6. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/amcraft-specsheets-insulated-3-in.pdf
Creating a Safe Outdoor Dining Experience This Winter

Creating a Safe Outdoor Dining Experience This Winter

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to the bar and restaurant industry. Normally a hub of social interaction, these businesses have had to shut their doors and adopt creative solutions to keep their staff and customers safe. Curbside pick-up, delivery, and outdoor seating have become the norm for the dining industry during the pandemic. But, the approach of winter makes dining outside a challenge. How can bars and restaurants create an outdoor dining experience that works during the coldest months of the year?

Safety Recommendations
First and foremost, eateries need to ensure they are maintaining an environment that is as safe as possible. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as local regulations, serve as an important point of reference for restaurants and bars.

  • Social distancing. However a restaurant or bar is able to operate, inside dining or outside, social distancing is an important safety measure. Tables should have at least six feet of space between them.
  • Limited capacity. Social distancing can also be supported by limiting capacity. Smaller groups of people are easier to adequately space out within a restaurant or on its patio.
  • Masking. The CDC recommends the employees of bars and restaurants wear facemasks and recommends customers wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.
  • Outdoor seating. Adequate ventilation and air flow help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which makes outdoor seating a safer option.

Outdoor Challenges

While eating and drinking outdoors was an easy solution in the balmy months of summer, winter brings a new set of challenges.

  • Temperature. In areas with mild winters, customers might be able to wear a few extra layers and still enjoy outdoor seating. In other areas with harsher winters, restaurants are faced with the question of creating an outdoor environment warm enough to attract customers.
  • Layout. Outdoor tents may be a potential option for restaurants, but the same considerations for safe dining apply. Does the tent allow for adequate ventilation? Can tables be placed far enough apart within the tent? Enclosed tents with poor air flow and large groups are likely not a safe solution.

Outdoor Solutions

What potential solutions do restaurants have to chilly weather and layout concerns?

  • Heaters. Many restaurants and bars are adding heaters to their outdoor spaces in an effort to create a warm enough environment. Some businesses are offering blankets or suggesting customers bring their own.
  • Physical barriers. In addition to temperature control, restaurants and bars need to keep in mind proper distancing protocols. Physical barriers can be installed in outdoor spaces to divide the airspace and maintain separate, safe areas for customers. For example, Sneeze Buddy™ Social Distance Separation Panels can be used to create separate dining enclosures outdoors. Freestanding modular frames or clear or suspended panels from above with chain or cables allow restaurants to configure the panels in whatever way works best for their outdoor space.

Thermal insulated curtains can serve as a multipurpose solution: creating both separate spaces and helping to maintain a warmer temperature for customers sitting outside.
Learn more about how AmCraft’s Sneeze Buddy™ panels and insulated curtains can help the food service industry weather the winter season.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/business-employers/bars-restaurants.html
  2. https://www.chicagobusiness.com/restaurants/outdoor-dining-tents-raise-questions-virus-safety-winter-nears
  3. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/sneeze-buddy-social-distance-separation-panels/
  4. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/insulated-curtains/
Maintaining Social Distancing Protocols at School

Maintaining Social Distancing Protocols at School

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the term “social distancing” a regular part of our daily lexicon. Large gatherings, like sporting events and concerts, are largely postponed as we fight the spread of the virus, but many group activities remain an essential part of our lives. We need to go to the store to pick up our groceries, and kids need to get an education.

During the pandemic, the approach to schooling has been largely determined by the number of cases in an area and local restrictions. Some schools are maintaining remote learning, while others are cautiously reopening their doors and figuring out how to best maintain socially distanced learning.

Social Distance Challenges

Effective social distancing requires structure and compliance. Historically, in-person schooling has been a very social activity. Students and teachers gather together and move from classroom to classroom and then to the lunchroom and the gym throughout the day.

Disrupting entrenched behavioral patterns is a major challenge. The school administration and teachers can implement health checks, require facemasks, introduce staggered schedules, and create smaller classroom pods, but kids are still learning how to focus and control their behavior.

While it is going to take time and trial and error to learn the best way to maintain social distancing in schools, introducing physical barriers is a powerful first step.

Solutions for the Academic Setting

The threat of virus transmission has forced a radical shift in the way schools approach group learning. Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulatory agencies help guide schools through this challenging environment.

What kind of solutions can be put to work in different parts of a school?

  • Classrooms. Classroom safety has always been paramount to schools. In the age of COVID-19, safety measures include maintaining adequate distance between teachers and students. For example, schools can use Sneeze Buddy social distance separation panels between desks to help keep students and teachers safe while facilitating group learning. These panels are reconfigurable, allowing schools to move them and adjust them to meet their needs.
  • Gymnasiums. School gymnasiums are large, open spaces that normally pack in hundreds of students and staff for assemblies and sporting events. Now, these spaces need to be approached differently. Industrial curtains can be used to create separate enclosures, allowing smaller groups to still use the space.
  • Cafeterias. Cafeterias are also large gathering spots for schools. Industrial curtains can be used here as they are in gymnasiums, creating smaller, enclosed areas to adhere to maximum capacity requirements.
  • Hallways. The hallway environment has always been less structured than the classroom. Students are rushing to their next classes, stopping at their lockers, and catching up with friends. But, schools still need to think about hallway safety. Industrial curtains can be set up as hallway dividers, keeping foot traffic moving in one direction. Entrances to designated areas off of hallways can also be sectioned off with curtains.
  • Buses. Bus protocols developed by Education Weekly recommend limited capacity, distanced seating, a barrier around the driver, mandatory facemasks, regular disinfection, and open windows to maintain the circulation of fresh air.

AmCraft has completed a project for a South Barrington, Illinois high school, providing curtains for the school’s cafeteria and gym. Learn more about how we can help your school follow the necessary safety precautions as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources:

  1. https://edufinance.org/content/edufinance/latest/COVID-19%20Response%20Toolkit/Edu%20-%20How%20to%20Practice%20Social%20Distancing%20in%20a%20School.pdf
  2. https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/back-to-school/social-distancing-challenges-tips
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html
  4. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/sneeze-buddy-social-distance-separation-panels/
  5. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/
  6. https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-buses-and-social-distancing-downloadable-guide.html
  7. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/contact/request-a-quote/
How Food-Grade Curtains Can Help Facilities Maintain Regulatory Compliance

How Food-Grade Curtains Can Help Facilities Maintain Regulatory Compliance

When you buy the ingredients for a meal at the grocery store or pick up a prescription from the pharmacy,

you want to know that those products are safe to consume. That is why the facilities that make, handle, and distribute food and medication are overseen by regulatory bodies that help to ensure quality control and food-grade compliance. What regulatory agencies oversee food and drug safety and compliance? What kinds of facilities need to adhere to these regulations? How can industrial curtains play a role in maintaining a compliant environment?

Regulatory Oversight
Some of the major North American agencies in charge of food safety are the:

Food Processing Facilities and Pharmaceutical Plants
What kinds of facilities need to maintain compliance with these major regulatory agencies?

  • Food processing facilities. Many different types of food processing facilities are subject to regulatory requirements. For example, a facility that manages meat products must maintain USDA compliance under the agency’s food safety and inspection rules.
  • Food distribution warehouses. Once food has been processed and manufactured, it needs to be shipped to retail locations, which often means time spent in a distribution warehouse. These facilities, just like manufacturing and processing facilities, are required to maintain compliance with FDA rules on food safety.
  • Pharmaceutical plants. Compliance with FDA regulations is essential in pharmaceutical plants, whether they are making over-the-counter medications or prescription medications.

The Role of Food-Grade Curtains
Industrial curtains can be important part of a facility’s compliance strategy. They can serve as separation barriers between different areas of the facility, either installed as retractable or stationary. AmCraft’s curtains are fabricated to fit your space.

Benefits include:

  • Regulatory compliance support. AmCraft’s food-grade curtains are made to comply with specific FDA, USDA and CFIA requirements relating to physical facilities that handle food products. The curtains are also Fire Rated ASTM E-84 Class A or NFPA-701.
  • Stainless steel track system. AmCraft’s food-grade curtains are available with a stainless steel track system. Additionally, the welded construction of the curtain walls helps ensure bacteria is unable to grow.
  • Easy-to-clean. The curtains, made of PVC vinyl, are both durable and easy-to-clean.

Food processing and distribution facilities, and in some cases pharmaceutical plants, need to carefully maintain food-grade compliance. Learn more about AmCraft’s food-grade curtains and how they can help your business.

Sources:

  1. https://www.usda.gov/
  2. https://www.fda.gov/food
  3. https://www.eater.com/2017/3/24/15041686/fda-usda-difference-regulation
  4. https://www.fda.gov/food/dietary-supplements
  5. https://www.fda.gov/drugs
  6. https://www.inspection.gc.ca/about-cfia/eng/1299008020759/1299008778654
  7. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-industry/how-start-food-business#subject
  8. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-industry/how-start-food-business#responsibility
  9. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Declaration-of-Compliance-with-Food-Safety-Regulations.pdf
  10. https://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/products/industrial-curtain-walls/food-grade-curtains/
Brewing from Start to Finish: How Temperature Matters in the Beer Business

Brewing from Start to Finish: How Temperature Matters in the Beer Business

The beer market is valued at $114.2 billion, and there were more than 7,000 breweries operating in the United States in 2018, according to the Brewers Association. Each of these breweries carefully crafts their beers, starting with the raw ingredients and finishing with the branded bottling. Throughout this process, brewers need to pay careful attention to the temperature of the environment to ensure their beer captures the intended flavor and maintains that quality all the way until the end consumer takes that first sip.

Learn about the vast brewing industry, the process of making beer, and how temperature matters.

Brewery Types
Not all breweries are the same. Some offer only small batches of craft beer onsite, while others are large regional hubs that ship their beers to multiple different retail locations.

  • Microbreweries, as the name suggests, produce small batches of beer–typically 15,000 barrels or less per year, according to the Brewers Association. Microbreweries tend to sell the majority of their beer off-site.
  • Brewpub and taprooms. Brewpubs and taprooms both sell at least a quarter of the beer they produce onsite, according to the Brewers Association. Brewpubs offer food alongside their beer, while taprooms focus mainly on libations. These types of breweries often sell their products to-go as well.
  • Regional breweries. Regional breweries are large hubs that can produce millions of barrels per year, according to the Brewers Association. Regional breweries will ship their beer through multiple distribution channels.

The Brewing Process
Brewing beer is a multi-step process that takes time and precision. Here are the basic steps:

  • Milling and mashing. Grain is the base ingredient of any type of beer. Brewers begin the process of making beer by milling, or crushing, the grain. Then, grain is set in hot, but not boiling, water, according to Beeriety.
  • The product of these processes, called wort, is then boiled as the brewer adds other ingredients, such as hops.
  • As the brew cools, brewers will separate out any remaining particles to prepare the liquid for the next step in the process.
  • Brewers next add yeast and sugar to begin the fermentation process. Most beer will need a few weeks to complete this process. During that time, the temperature of the fermentation space is important. Though it may vary depending on the type of beer, 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is typically the optimal room temperature for this step in the brewing process, according to Brew with Kits.
  • Once the beer is bottled, it will need time to age. Higher temperatures will mean faster aging, so brewers need to be cognizant of the temperature. Most beers should age in an environment at 55 to 65 degrees, according to Draft.

Given the different temperature requirements of the brewing process, breweries need discrete temperature zones. Some buildings may be effectively insulated and separated for each step, but many spaces are not. Industrial insulated curtains are a flexible, cost-effective solution for creating and maintaining separate temperature zones. The opaque curtains can also help control the light conditions, another vital factor that affects the quality of the final product.

Storage and Distribution
Once beer is aged and ready for sale, it will either be sold at the brewery or it will be shipped through various distribution channels. The ideal storage temperature for beer, whether it is being kept at the brewery or a third-party logistics warehouse, varies depending on the type of beer. For example, IPAs and lagers are best stored at 45 to 50 degrees, while sour beer is typically stored at 50 to 55 degrees, according to The Hop Review.

Breweries that create a wide variety of beers can create temperature-specific zones in their storage space; likewise, distribution warehouses can maintain ideal temperatures while beer waits for shipping to its final destination. For example, R-8 and R-9 2” Insulated Soft Walls are an effective tool for transportation facilities and warehouses with temperature sections. These insulated curtains can maintain a maximum temperature difference of 22 degrees.

If your brewery, large or small, needs help with temperature management, we have the solution. Contact us to speak with a knowledgeable Industrial Curtain Wall Specialist about the different types of insulated curtains and get a quote for your business.