A pickle of a problem

New filters without bags reduce cleaning time.

The Eco filter integrates into existing pipelines and automatically cleans itself without human intervention, saving maintenance and materials costs. Source: Russell Finex.

As the largest privately held US pickle company in an industry that’s undergone widespread consolidation, the Mt. Olive Pickle Company understands it must operate more efficiently than the competition while producing product of the highest quality for consumers. Packing more than 90 million jars of pickles, relishes and peppers annually for distribution in over 45 states, Mt. Olive must ensure its processing meets the most stringent standards. One important process is nozzle spraying fresh-pack product with a brine wash solution.

To prevent the spray nozzles from clogging with bits of product debris washed off in the process, the brine wash solution must be filtered before each reuse. Mt. Olive, however, found the traditional filter bags it was using for this operation had distinct drawbacks. “Depending on the product running, filter bags on each production line had to be changed about once an hour, during which time production had to stop for about five minutes,” says Steve Whitman, Mt. Olive production manager.

Furthermore, filtering efficiency varied depending on how full the bags were, leading to potential spray nozzle blockage and line shutdown. To determine when to change filter bags, workers had to monitor pressure gauges. “As the outlet pressure gauge dropped and the inlet pressure gauge increased, workers knew they needed to change their bag,” says Whitman. Cleaning the strainers and changing the filter bags manually was a wet, messy job, while purchasing, storing, handling and disposing of the bags added to production costs.

Based on the recommendation of its salt bath supplier and its own research, Mt. Olive decided to install a self-cleaning Eco filter system from Russell Finex, Pineville, NC. The filter integrates directly into the pipeline and eliminates the need to change filter bags or clean filtration baskets. By means of a spiral wiper design, the filter element is kept continuously clean, ensuring optimum filtration efficiency. Therefore, cleaning the filter between batch runs is quick and easy with minimal disruption during production changeovers.

“We’re no longer having to shut down production or babysit filter bags,” says Whitman. “Because we’re getting all the particulate pieces of product out of the brine solution, we’re not blocking up our nozzles, and we’re getting good brine flow into the system.” Mt. Olive uses a number of the filters in production, which have a tap that allows the sampling of freshly filtered material to monitor quality on the fly without interrupting production. A filter management system automatically opens the oversize discharge valve at a specified differential pressure or time interval.

“Production is streamlined because the system automatically flushes and cleans itself when needed, and there’s no need to monitor, change or dispose of bags,” says Whitman.

Compared to the previous devices, these filters are saving the company a substantial amount of downtime and labor. “We’ve had zero downtime with the Eco filters,” says Whitman. “Because they’re virtually maintenance-free, they’ve helped us meet our production targets while saving labor.” u

For more information, Shaun Edwards, 704-588-9808,

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

IPPE 2015

The 2015 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) was held in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, Jan. 27-29. More than 30,000 poultry, meat and feed industry representatives attended the event to interact with the 1,288 exhibitors on the show floor that covered more than 490,000 net square feet. At the show exhibitors demonstrated innovations in equipment, supplies and services utilized by firm in the production and processing of meat, poultry, eggs and feed products.


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 March 2015 cover

2015 March

In this March 2015 issue of Food Engineering, we explore how a surprise FDA audit could be serious if you're not recording key data.

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.