Food Engineering

Filler Eliminates

March 26, 2003
Anyone using honey or other viscous raw material knows the nightmares of cleaning up after a spill. Imagine the calamity for honey producer McKenzie Foods (Spruce Grove, AB), the third largest honey packer in Canada, if this mishap occurs on its filler.

"When we opened up 15 years ago, we acquired a used twin-head, pneumatic, driving-nozzle type filler," says Bob McKenzie, president. "It was very touchy, constantly dripped and occasionally missed a container. We also had to balance conveyor speed with driving speed and nozzle height." Filler problems were all too frequent and cleanups really bogged down productivity.

McKenzie Foods supplies 1,000 supermarkets and foodservice customers in western Canada and northwest United States. It produces close to 40,000 cases per year with bottle sizes ranging from 250 to 3,000 grams (8.8 oz. to 6.6 lb.). Production increases and frustrations demanded a better system.

In January, McKenzie Foods installed a Gen-3 Pro/Matic filler from Oden Corp. "We looked at several suppliers at recent tradeshows," adds McKenzie. "Oden's enthusiasm, responsiveness and performance assurances through their experience with our type of product convinced us."

The Pro/Matic has built-in simplicity, according to McKenzie. "The PLC interface monitors and controls conveyor speed, indexing, container sensing and electronic control of no-drip product cut-off. Our system has a six-station in-line filling system, where each head fills one-sixth of the total finished container weight."

Filling takes slightly longer, according to McKenzie, but is worth it because product flow is now laminar which is ideal for honey. "There is no turbulence, minimal bubbles and the positive displacement pump precisely starts and stops flow, eliminating dripping."

Fill speed and delay are controllable parameters and changeovers are tool-less. Products are keyed into the PLC, and with a few adjustments to nozzle spacing and finger position, production is ready to go with a new container size.

"Our productivity has improved more than 50 percent due to the filler and a few other processing changes," notes McKenzie. "And the lack of spills or miss-fills has improved morale more than I can measure."

Oden Corp., 255 Great Arrow Ave., Buffalo, NY 14207. Tel.: (716) 874-3000 Fax: (716) 874-1589.