Mitigating Contamination While Moving Food & Beverage Manufacturing Machinery

For businesses in the food and beverage manufacturing industry, relocating machinery is a big deal. It’s not just the size, complexity and expense of the equipment that makes the job a challenge, though those factors usually do come into play. The real concern with relocating any type of food manufacturing machinery is contamination.  

Contaminating the equipment isn’t a concern with most machinery moves, but when you manufacture products that are consumed it’s the biggest issue to overcome. Everything could go as scheduled and according to plan, but if the machinery becomes contaminated in the process it will mean extra downtime that’s extremely expensive. 

While contamination is a serious challenge, it can be mitigated with an experienced machinery moving team that knows how to keep equipment contaminant-free and prevent issues before they can become a problem. This is where our teams at Able Machinery Movers and MEI Rigging & Crating can best assist in ensuring a smooth relocation process, maintaining equipment integrity, and minimizing contamination risks from start to finish.

Types of Food Processing Machinery 

The types of machinery that are used in production can make a relocation more complex for food and beverage manufacturers. In food manufacturing and processing there are two general types of machinery: heavy mechanical equipment and technologically advanced equipment. 

The heavy mechanical equipment is generally more rugged, but the concern over contaminants is greater simply due to the fact parts are coming in contact with the food and beverage products. This type of machinery also tends to be huge and heavy. 

Technologically advanced equipment is usually powering the production and is highly sensitive, however it often isn’t touching the products that are produced. It may be a small component or even located within another piece of equipment. 

Food production requires numerous pieces of equipment that are designed to work together. The ingredients must be handled, prepared, cooked, packaged and stored in a seamless process. 

Below is a list of food processing machinery that’s commonly used today: 

  • Conveyor systems
  • Dough feeders
  • Heavy-duty slicers
  • Industrial-size mixers
  • Injectors
  • Laminators
  • Meat grinders
  • Meat processors
  • Packaging equipment
  • Soaking tanks
  • Vacuum tumblers
  • Washing systems

There are also components like ultrasonic cleaners built into equipment to prevent contamination during production. 

Understanding the Risks of Contamination When You’re Relocating Food and Beverage Manufacturing Machinery 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that each year around 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses. Most of the time it’s a simple case of “food poisoning” that will cause digestive issues for a few days. However, about 3,000 people a year will die because of foodborne illnesses. The vast majority of the time the problem was preventable. 

During a relocation, contaminants are all around. They’re in the air, on surfaces and can be spread by people who are handling the machinery. At every stage of the relocation there are different contamination concerns to account for and steps that should be taken to keep the machinery contaminant-free.  

The Importance of Maintaining Product and Machine Integrity 

In the food and beverage production industry, product quality is everything. It’s not just a matter of how the product tastes. Appearance and safety factors also come into play. The overall product integrity must be kept in mind when you’re relocating food production machinery or you could face serious issues once production is started back up.  

There are three primary reasons machine integrity should be a top concern before, during and after a relocation:

Health and Safety 

In food and beverage manufacturing product quality is everything because people’s health is on the line. Product quality is a direct reflection of machine integrity. If food manufacturing machinery isn’t kept in perfect working condition, which means it is free of contaminants, then people can get sick and even die as a result. 


Machinery integrity is also directly connected with being in compliance with regulations. Because of the health risks that are involved, food production is heavily regulated to ensure manufacturers are using safe practices. Regulators pay careful attention to the operation and upkeep of equipment to make sure steps are taken to keep equipment clean. 

Production Efficiency 

When machinery isn’t maintained properly it will have a negative effect on production efficiency. Imagine how much production time would be lost if you have to shut the operation down to decontaminate just a single piece of equipment. Considering how food manufacturing equipment is linked together, contamination could spread if the issue isn’t addressed immediately. 

What to Consider When Relocating Food Manufacturing Machinery

There’s a lot to think about, but with a little insight it’s much easier to wrap your head around what’s needed to relocate your food production machinery. Some considerations apply to every machinery move, and they are a good basis for starting to plan your project. Below is a quick look at the things you’ll want to keep in mind as you make decisions for relocating heavy machinery.

Site Selection 

Where will the machinery be located? The site selection is going to have a significant impact on not only how easy it is to set up the equipment but also production efficiency and potential contamination. 

Equipment Preparation and Packaging

How the equipment is packaged prior to being moved matters. Are there special requirements for packaging up the equipment? Does machinery need to be disassembled first? Will you need custom crating services? You’ll need to answer those questions to create a packing plan based primarily on protecting the equipment. 

Relocation and Shipping 

Once the equipment is packaged up there are still other preparations to make prior to shipping to ensure contamination won’t be a problem. How the machinery will be transported depends on its size and weight as well as special requirements like climate control. The route that’s taken needs to be figured out to minimize risk while expediting the move time. If machinery storage is needed that has to be factored into the timeline as well. 

Regulatory Compliance 

At Able Machinery Movers safety and compliance always comes first. In the food production industry there are going to be regulations that must be followed to ensure safety. The Food Safety Modernization Act is just one example of how regulations can come into play. The act establishes a set of regulations that are geared towards preventing foodborne illnesses. There’s an entire section on sanitary transportation of food that can serve as a guide for safely moving food manufacturing machinery.

Typical Costs

The cost of relocation services is going to be a factor for any business, even the largest food manufacturers. Usually relocating food and beverage manufacturing equipment is going to cost more because of the added complexity that’s involved. There are the standard costs for things like packaging, loading, transporting and unloading. However, you may have additional costs such as site preparation, clean room services and relocation insurance that adds to the overall cost of the move.  

Steps to Mitigating Contamination During a Food and Beverage Manufacturing Relocation

Now that you have a better idea of what to consider for a standard machinery move, it’s time to focus on food manufacturing equipment and steps for mitigating contamination during a relocation.  

Controlled Environments 

The more you can control the environment during loading, transit and unloading the less likely you are to have contamination issues. While you can’t control everything, it’s important to identify ways you can maintain or adjust the environment to minimize the exposure to contaminants. 

As noted in our article on safely transporting food processing machinery, controlling environments begins in the planning phase before any equipment is touched. Carefully assess the different environments that the equipment will move through during the relocation. The goal is to think of any potential contamination concerns within each environment. From there you can work with your moving team to decide the best ways to control the environment to avoid issues.

Thorough Cleaning Prior to Packaging 

Preventing contamination starts with thoroughly cleaning the machinery during the disassembly before it’s packaged up. It’s always best to refer to the machinery manufacturer on how the equipment should be cleaned and disassembled to maintain its integrity. Once the cleaning process is confirmed, a step-by-step guide should be created to serve as a reference for anyone who’s tasked with preparing the equipment. 

Careful Handling and Transportation 

Don’t get complacent once the equipment is cleaned, disassembled and packed up. You may still need to take extra precautions if the equipment isn’t crated in airtight containers. 

The first thing you can do is properly label crates and containers so that anyone handling them understands what type of equipment is inside and that it needs to be handled with care. Anyone touching the containers may need to sanitize their hands or wear special protective gear even if they aren’t touching the actual equipment. 

Even short-term storage needs to be thought out to prevent contamination. Avoid moving the packaged equipment prior to loading and try to keep it in a designated area with low contamination risk. These same precautions should be used when the equipment is being loaded for transport. 

Sanitize Before Reassembly 

Once you’re at the new location you’ll want to take the same precautions during the reassembly as you did during the disassembly. Each component should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before being reassembled. Try to limit the number of people involved to minimize the risk of contamination. 

Watch Out for Contamination While Testing and Calibrating

Part of the testing and calibrating process for food processing machinery should be checking for contaminants. Doing so can help you keep the problem contained if a piece of equipment is contaminated. 

Take Quality Assurance Measures 

Quality assurance measures have to be in place throughout the process to avoid contamination. All it takes is one oversight at any point for the machinery to become contaminated. Any quality assurance measures should be notated and everyone involved should be well aware of how to adhere to them. 

Food and Beverage Manufacturing Insurance 

When machinery is being moved it increases the risk of not only contamination but damage as well. This is when it pays to have additional insurance converge just in case. You can get liability insurance and property insurance to reduce financial risk, but food and beverage manufacturing insurance is another niche option. This specialty insurance provides protection against a number of problems, including contaminated food products and food contamination equipment cleanup. 

Benefits of Hiring Machinery Movers to Relocate Food Processing Machinery 

Any machinery move can be difficult for a business to handle on their own without the extra concerns related to contamination. But for food and beverage manufacturers, working with professionals that understand the risks is essential. 

With expert machinery movers that have experience handling sensitive equipment, you’ll actually reduce risk and the entire process should go a lot smoother, which saves time and money. Professional machinery movers can identify potential problems that you’d never know to consider. They’ll also have the expertise and resources in place to ensure that every component remains clean and contaminants are controlled as the equipment is moved. 

We know firsthand how complex the job can be because Able Machinery Movers has provided a number of relocation services for the food and beverage industry. Our experts work one-on-one with the business so that all contamination concerns are covered.

How to Start Planning a Food and Beverage Manufacturing Relocation 

Successfully relocating food and beverage manufacturing equipment is a process that takes time and requires forethought. The first step is finding a machinery moving specialist that understands your unique needs. From there you can create a custom moving plan that breaks the relocation down into manageable phases.

When you work with a full-service machinery mover like Able Machinery Movers you’ll have support at every stage and reduce the risk of contamination. We can make sure that everyone on the job is fully aware of the equipment requirements, protocols and compliance issues so that everything is seamless and up to your standards. 

Contact one of our five locations to discuss moving food and beverage production equipment!