Food Engineering

New doors have positive impact on production flow

June 1, 2010
Forklifts continuously hit old poorly insulated doors, causing a production roadblock.

To handle steady business growth, Fieldale Farms sends its product to market through TKO impactable dock doors, designed to provide uninterrupted service thanks to their knockout design. Source: TKO.


Fieldale Farms Corp. is a major poultry supplier to the nation’s leading foodservice and restaurant chains. It sells hundreds of millions of dollars of product every year across the US and to more than 50 countries.

Fieldale recently invested $50 million in a plant expansion project at its Gainesville, GA facility, increasing total production floor space to 400,000 sq. ft. This facility has up-to-date equipment, such as touch screens, PLCs, and stainless steel handling lines, to enable Fieldale to keep up with the demand of processing more than 300,000 lbs. of poultry per day. Despite automation advances, a production roadblock still existed in old dock doors that needed to be replaced.

“In our old operation,” recalls Plant Manager Randy Williams, “we had what I called ‘beer can’ doors. They were fairly cheap and you got what you paid for.” Yet the entire process depended upon them. “Everything comes through these doors during our 16 to 18 hour days,” he adds.

The door panels were flimsy and could be easily dented by errant forklifts. Space was tight, collisions were common and maintenance had to replace the doors every two years. Slight bumps could cause the doors to form gaps between the panels and doorframe, leading to energy loss.

Fieldale decided to replace the old doors with TKO CruiserWeight Impactable dock doors. When a forklift hits one of the new doors, the door panel releases from the track, eliminating costly panel damage. The panels consist of a heavy-duty, polycarbonate facing that stands up to the worst abuse.

The production flow starts with raw meat entering the plant and emerges processed and packaged through ten new TKO dock doors-five doors at each end of the process. The dock is kept below 55°F to maintain product quality, and Fieldale’s trucks maintain 32°F, so reducing the number of 8 x 10-ft. openings is a smart strategy to minimize energy loss.

The doors must be able to handle heavy traffic, and losing even one of them to damage or downtime can cripple the process. The full height Impact-A-Track guide provides total protection against abusive impacts. After impact, resetting the door is quick and easy by pulling the plunger cable or the door handles to bring the panels back into the door track. 

Williams’ other complaint about the old doors was lack of insulation, especially critical during hot Georgia summers. The new doors’ 1 3/4-in. thick foam core panels with damage resistant polymer interior facing provides much higher R-value and consistent temperature control than conventional steel doors. Also, the CruiserWeight door panel construction is corrosion resistant as well, resisting harsh washdown chemicals.

 “The seals on the old doors were constantly leaking,” notes Williams. “We checked the seal around the TKO Doors and found it keeps nice even temperature on the dock.”

Maintenance is my number one priority, concludes Williams. “With all of the other equipment we have, I don’t want my crew working on the doors all the time.”


For more information:

Michael Brittingham, 877-408-6788, sales@4frontes.com