Field Reports: A "Honee" of an upgrade

One cutter replaces nine for the largest private label supplier of asparagus in the world

For decades, Lawton, Mich.-based Honee Bear Canning relied on Model 30 Cutters to slice it asparagus product. In fact, the company purchased its first such cutter from Urschel Laboratories in 1951, and bought several more over the years for a total of nine.

With just routine maintenance, the machines performed well over time. And Honee Bear had no trouble keeping the equipment busy. The company is the largest asparagus canner in Michigan and the largest private label supplier of asparagus in the world. During asparagus season, from May to mid-June, the company's ranks swell to 250.

Although the Model 30 has been the standard for the green bean and asparagus cutting industries since the 1920s, Honee Bear plant manager Toby Fields recently encountered a new method of cutting asparagus -- Urschel's TranSlicer 2000. "At first I thought the [Urschel] salesman was crazy, but then I went to the plant to watch the equipment run and was very impressed," Fields recalled. "The 30's were running fine. [But] after seeing that particular machine work, I believed it would take over the market. And I knew that it would lower our labor costs."

With the TranSlicer, product is delivered onto two high-speed feed belts sloping together to form a V-shaped feed trough. The two feed belts are synchronized with a 20-in.-diameter rotating slicing wheel to ensure proper advance of product per revolution of the wheel. Knives under tension serve as spokes to support the rim of the wheel, and are slightly twisted to create a uniform pitch from the hub to the rim. The number and pitch of knives on the slicing wheel together with the matching feed belt determine the thickness of the slice. One slice is made at a time to prevent any crushing of the product, with cut slices then discharged into a hinged, contoured chute to reduce their speed before exiting the machine.

The stainless-steel cutting wheel motor utilizes a dynamic braking system - meaning there are no moving parts requiring routine maintenance. Hinged and shining access panels make the TranSlicer easy to clean and maintain.

As Honee Bear's Fields discovered, the TranSlicer is ideally suited for elongated products, including cucumbers, peppers, celery and carrots, as well as bread loaves, pepperonis and wieners. By last winter, Honee Bear had found a buyer for its nine Model 30 cutters and placed an order for a TranSlicer 2000 Cutter. "The 30's had been here so long and held up so well that we knew Urschel was a quality company," Fields said. After revamping its existing line to accommodate the new cutter, Honee Bear was able to reduce its labor force by 30 workers. The upgrade also increased the amount of available floor space in the 250,000-sq.-ft. plant. The TranSlicer 2000 runs at about 14,000 lbs. per hour, and has vastly improved the overall operation of the plant, including clean-up efficiency.

Urschel Laboratories, Inc., 2503 Calumet Ave., P.O. Box 2200, Valparaiso, IN 46384. Tel: (219) 464-4811; fax (219) 462-3879.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.