MeMeMe, Inc. needed to increase production. Supermarkets and food service operators across Canada were increasing orders for its Marcy's and private label brands of premium croutons and stuffing mixes. But how could the company handle a major expansion that called for integrating equipment from different suppliers to meet specific budget and packaging requirements? The solution was to call Heat and Control.
"The sales and engineering staff at Heat and Control Canada worked hand-in-hand with us to design a system that would meet our operating specifications for throughput, reliability and sanitation, while meeting our budgetary target," recalls Bruce Luczak, MeMeMe's plant manager. "As a single-source supplier, we had the resources and experience to handle all aspects of the project, from design through installation and start-up," explains Heat and Control project sales manager, Scott Morton.
Considering the delicate handling required for croutons and the potential for future production growth, a FastBack 90E horizontal motion conveyor, a washdown Ishida RS 14-head computer combination weigher, a CEIA metal detector, and a PSG Lee pre-made horizontal pouching machine (PPI Technologies Group) were supplied.
The FastBack 90E was selected because its gentle slow-forward fast-back conveying motion greatly reduces product damage compared to vibratory conveying. It also eliminates unscheduled cleaning downtime because coatings do not build up in the conveyor pan. FastBack conveyors deliver the highest travel rates of any horizontal motion conveyor and efficiently convey heavy loads. Instant stop-start product feed to the Ishida weigher improves packaging efficiency.
The first of its kind in Canada, the Ishida CCW-RS-214W-S/30-WP weigher features washdown construction. Sized according to MeMeMe's present and anticipated production volumes, the weigher will operate at double the present speed without creating a bottleneck in the production process.
At the discharge of the weigher – the final checkpoint before packaging – croutons pass through a CEIA metal detector.
Metal detection at this point assures that all product has passed every potential location where metal could enter the product stream before it is packaged by a PSG Lee RP-84T/Z WD horizontal pouching machine, which produces their distinctive Marcy's stand-up re-sealable pouch. Heat and Control worked directly with the supplier to ensure that any potential interface issues were addressed prior to equipment arriving on site.
MeMeMe contracted with a local vendor to fabricate the support platform and provide installation. Heat and Control Canada provided drawings and technical assistance to assure trouble-free integration of all components. "The equipment was delivered on time," explains plant manager Luczak, "and the user-friendly touch screen operator-interface on the Ishida scale made training and product integration effortless."
MeMeMe now produces bag sizes ranging from 125 to 681 grams. "Operating speeds on our 125-gram pouch increased over 200% while maintaining an oxygen residual under 1% (products are gas-flushed for extended shelf life)", says Luczak. "Giveaway and underweight products have been all but eliminated," he smiles. "We've averaged under 1 kg per day total giveaway, or 0.1%, which is down significantly from our previous levels of 2.5 to 3%" he explains. "Moreover," adds Luczak, "the versatility of the equipment has enabled us to switch all our larger food service formats over to this equipment, which has produced significant labor savings. Design features on the equipment allow our sanitation team to easily disassemble and clean the Ishida weigher quickly and thoroughly to meet HACCP requirements. In fact, the accuracy, reliability and speed of the Ishida scale enable QA, maintenance and supervisory staff to focus on their other duties."
Considering the success of this project, Luczak concludes that as demand for Marcy's croutons and stuffing mix continues to grow, he looks forward to partnering with Heat and Control.