Processing / Case Studies & Field Reports

Midwest pizza manufacturer increases production while freezing costs

A new cryogenic freezing tunnel uses less nitrogen and is easy to clean.
Fifty years ago, Emil Caplene opened a pizza shop in Watertown, WI with one goal in mind: Make and sell the best-tasting pizzas ever. Today, Emil’s Pizza produces 5,000 pizzas a day for retail, wholesale, copacking and fundraising customers throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois. But finding a way to increase line production without incurring associated costs was a problem.
“Things were challenging when I came to Emil’s in 2007,” says Rick Roedl, president. The dedication was there, but a good system allowing Emil’s to freeze and distribute the best pizzas in the least amount of time was not. “We had been doing things the same way for a long time, making it nearly impossible to realize profitable growth.”
Roedl’s 16 years of individual quick frozen (IQF) experience at parent company Daybreak Foods allowed him to quickly define the problem: The company’s former nitrogen tunnel was causing log jams. 
“Processing equipment must meet two ‘musts,’ or you don’t operate. First, you need generous production capacity at an affordable operating cost, and second, your equipment has to be easy to clean and maintain,” says Roedl. “The old freezing tunnel had multiple, cumbersome stainless steel doors that were constantly sweating and leaking. It gobbled nitrogen and didn’t meet our increased production needs. The door seals and other hard-to-access areas trapped water and food particles, resulting in bacteria growth and the need for constant cleaning to maintain our rigorous quality and safety standards. This hurt production costs considerably.”
Roedl and his team started researching new freezing tunnels. Mechanical refrigeration was not an option, since the slower freezing process dehydrates the quality ingredients for which Emil’s is known. “Only nitrogen freezing can almost instantly seal our fresh toppings, cryogenically locking in moisture and flavor. Our pizzas are frozen within 200 seconds of breaking of the toppings’ moisture barrier,” says Roedl.
Initial research turned up few new freezing options. Then, Roedl learned about Air Liquide’s ALIGAL FZ cryogenic freezer. Unlike conventional nitrogen freezers, the ALIGAL FZ addresses food plant sanitation concerns by opening in a way that makes all internal mechanisms completely visible and accessible. Plus, all surfaces are self-draining and easy to clean. The unit’s stainless steel construction and molded, gel-coated fiberglass body maximizes convection, widens the freezing zone and increases capacity. 
The freezer uses a top-lift system that allows it to open at the touch of a button. Since the unit doesn’t require plant floor space for swing-out doors, Emil’s can increase production without needing extra space. Cryogen usage is minimized through isothermal cryogen injection, and enhanced fan performance offers flexibility for product development. Air Liquide installed the cryogen storage vessel and its associated piping, and supplied training to on-site personnel.
In the past year, throughput at Emil’s has increased by 23 percent while nitrogen usage has decreased by 30 percent. Sanitation time and costs have been reduced by a whopping 75 percent. “We save enough in sanitation costs alone to cover the cost of the freezer lease,” says Roedl.
For more information:
Linda Krupps; 713-624-8051;

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 February 2015 Cover

2015 February

In this February 2015 issue of Food Engineering, we explore how energy waste caused by leaks in compressed air, steam and water or faulty building insulation/seals can be reduced with the right equipment and knowledge.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
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.