CIFT provides the following services for agri-businesses:
Alternate Energy Sources
CIFT serves as a clearinghouse of trusted information associated with the production of energy-producing crops. Such crops, suitable to local growing conditions, represent marketing and income enhancement opportunities for agribusinesses. Additional collaboration among industry and academia has resulted in an effort to study alternative crops for their potential to generate energy or renewable fuels.
CIFT collaborates with several partnering organizations to provide the resources, technical assistance and business expertise to regional entrepreneurs or established manufacturers who currently produce, or plan to produce, green or biobased products. These partners include the Ohio Soybean Council, Ohio Corn Marketing Program, From the Earth, and similar organizations dedicated to the advancement of the industry.
Traditional crops are driven by price – making operational efficiency and economies of scale critical to profitability. Specialty crops offer co-ops of producers an opportunity to produce higher value crops on a smaller scale.
CIFT's expert network of business advisors and food-based businesses utilizes industry knowledge and current technology to explore new methods for generating revenue for producers. Concepts are evaluated based on potential for near-term success, low barriers to market entry, specific market potential for products, and tangible benefits such as jobs created and income generated. CIFT conducts feasibility studies and market research on concepts that most closely demonstrate these qualities.
One of the largest controllable expenses that confronts a food processing establishment is the treatment and disposal of wastewater. The large quantities of water used for processes and sanitation, and the heavy organic loading of the water can generate very large operating costs for a processing plant.
In addition to pretreatment charges, which can be very substantial, many processing companies are forced to pay monthly surcharges due to out of control conditions, which can cause extra expenses for:
- suspended solids
- fats, oils and grease
- pH out of permissible range
CIFT and its network of technical providers has significant experience in dairies, in meat plants, snack food operations, bakeries, canneries, frozen food facilities, and other food processing operations. Its team can review operations within a plant and make recommendations to reduce these expenses.
The team will:
- Evaluate alternate processing and treatment techniques.
- Recommend monitoring techniques to reduce out of control conditions.
- Identify source reduction opportunities.
- Recommend modifications of additions to pretreatment systems.
Compressed Air Systems
Compressed air systems in food processing facilities are frequently the most costly production support utilities system. System distribution leakage and inadequate compressor controls systems can easily cost thousands of dollars yearly if not addressed. One leak the size of one-fourth inch in diameter in a 100 psi pressure system can cost up to $10,000 a year.
Following a comprehensive plant study for a CIFT member, measures were identified which resulted in an electric savings of more than 531,000 kilowatt-hours - which translates to a reduction in operating expenses of $41,000 annually. CIFT utilizes a comprehensive analysis approach to addressing this very costly situation for our clients.
This approach utilizes a thorough facility compressed air system assessment to identify opportunities to reduce energy usage associated with the compressed air system. Through the identification of leaks by a physical walk down of the systems with specialized detection equipment, analysis of existing technology misapplication, poor operating practices and failed components; recommendations are made for system improvements.
Food Processing Industry Water Usage Audits
The efficient use of water can determine the profitability of a food processing operation. Whether for processing, for sanitation, or the operation of plant utilities, water use represents one of the largest controllable expenses in a food processing operation.
Most companies monitor water usage very closely, but sometimes "another set of eyes" can be helpful. The CIFT team has worked for more than 20 years with operations in all sectors of the food industry, and can use this experience to help to identify opportunities for reduced water usage in many different areas, including:
- Process modifications
- Water reuse opportunities
- Expanded use of "dry cleaning"
- Reduction of water used for material handling
- Use of high pressure, low volume systems
- Changes to sanitation procedures
The CIFT team can review a plant's operations, including production, sanitation, and plant utilities, and recommend improvements to help reduce water usage. These recommendations can be as simple as the use of spring loaded nozzles on hoses used for sanitation, or as complicated as treatment processes to reuse process or sanitation water. Past audits have resulted in significant savings for processing companies, both in the cost of water and the additional costs of post usage treatment.
CIFT's background and experiences in the food processing industry ensure that all recommendations and evaluations are completed within the guidelines of food safety and sanitation required by HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) and food safety certification systems such as the Global Food Safety Certification Initiative (GFSI).
Life Cycle Assessments
CIFT is working with various institutions and businesses to develop tools which will allow Ohio manufacturers to improve their competitive position by enhancing their sustainability score and reducing their operational costs by 1) translating Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) data into operational improvements, 2) using “carbon footprint” calculations as marketing data, and 3) using the tools of sustainability measurement as guides in product development efforts.