While the food industry is adopting e-commerce at an accelerating pace, the same cannot be said for the food processing equipment industry.
Even as B2B e-commerce grows, food processing equipment is still by and large purchased the old-fashioned way. You talk to a sales rep, perhaps at a trade show, tell them your specifications, and then receive a quote for a new piece of equipment. Even suppliers that put detailed product information on their websites rarely divulge their prices. And if you want to buy something online? Forget about it. At the very least, you still have to call.
This may make sense for processing machinery, which is often custom-built for the application and the facility. But there’s a lot of equipment in food processing plants that isn’t custom-built, for example, hand-washing sinks and boot washing stations. Since these products are standard, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to purchase them instantly online.
That’s exactly the type of convenience Unitherm Food Systems now provides through its recently launched website CleanDrains.com. The new e-commerce site makes purchasing sanitary control products — including sinks, drains, and automatic boot washing stations — as easy as ordering the latest bestseller from Amazon. While some of the products have optional configurations that must be custom-built, most are in stock and available for immediate purchase.
Unitherm is one of the first food processing equipment suppliers to enter into e-commerce territory. Camilla Howard, Unitherm’s marketing manager, told Food Industry Executive that their primary goal in launching the site was to “help processors become aware of the different sanitary control options available and remove any barriers to companies obtaining the latest, most efficient and effective sanitary technologies.”
For example, hand-washing sinks are required by the FDA Food Code for Physical Facilities. According to food safety expert Richard F. Stier, the rule of thumb is one sink per 10 employees, and those sinks should be hands-free. He suggests: “To ensure that all employees wash before beginning work, management must install an adequate number of sinks to allow all employees to wash without having to line up. If people have to wait, they may not do what is required.”
Unitherm offers both the traditional knee-operated and the more modern sensor varieties. Depending on the size of your workforce, you can order sinks with one to four stations online, or custom-order sinks with up to eight stations.
Similarly, many facilities feature boot washing stations, which often consist of just a bucket of detergent solution and a scrub brush. Unitherm provides both manual and automatic boot washing systems for more effective cleaning and fewer food safety risks.
As the FDA continues to increase the number of inspections it conducts and takes a firmer approach to enforcing those inspections, the importance of these types of sanitary control products will only grow. And sites like CleanDrains will help ensure processors have easy access to the equipment they need to keep their facilities in top cleanliness shape.
At Food Industry Executive, we predict that Unitherm’s foray into e-commerce is a sign of what’s to come. Particularly as more Millennials enter the industry, B2B buyers will demand more convenient and more transparent purchasing options.