Chocolate manufacturer improves product purity with low profile separator.

Warrell installed a Sweco in-line, low-profile separator on the ceiling of its Camp Hill, PA facility to improve the quality of its return chocolate. Source: Warrell Corp.
Waste not, want not. In candy manufacturing, the ability to reuse and recirculate chocolate is paramount to a line's cost efficiency. Naturally, however, when you enrobe products like peanuts or pretzels with chocolate, salt and nut pieces fall back into the chocolate.

"A chocolate enrober coats various centers by creating a chocolate curtain and a chocolate ‘bath,' which coats the center with the correct amount of chocolate. The excess chocolate runs through a wire mesh belt into the bottom of the enrober," says Jeff Hahn, Warrell Corp. plant manager. "Whatever chocolate is leftover is pumped back through a detempering tube into the use tank." When Hahn joined Warrell's Camp Hill, PA-based plant in 2003, he noticed that better screeners might improve the quality of the return chocolate and thus cut down on product waste. Warrell, which has been in business since 1965, manufacturers a number of chocolate-coated products including peanuts, cashews, almonds and dried fruit for the Pennsylvania Dutch and Kathryn Beecher brands, as well as private label customers.

Hahn investigated the various screening options that might work for Warrell. "I knew we had to get a screener but didn't realize a low profile screener was available, which was exactly the kind of thing we needed," says Hahn. "It uses gravity to screen the material, which means you don't need an extra pump or additional piping to push product through."

The 500,000-sq.-ft. Camp Hill plant has a low ceiling, which also needed to be considered before selecting a screening unit. With that in mind, the in-line, low-profile separator from Sweco was the plant's ideal choice. The compact size of the unit enabled it to fit in the plant's height-restricted area.

Recirculated chocolate at the plant used to flow through a basket strainer with 1/16-in. holes. With the Sweco separator, the chocolate passes through a 20-mesh screen that removes more than 10 times the number of contaminants than the old system. "We were also able to eliminate air bubbles in the chocolate, which had been a recurring problem with the old basket screening method we were using," says Hahn.

"Installation was a breeze," continues Hahn. "We used a contractor who was familiar with our facility. We hung the screeners from the ceiling, so we ended up going back and adding a set of stairs so our operators would have good access to change the screens." Warrell's Camp Hill plant uses two screeners, one for milk chocolate and one for compounds. Frequently during each shift, operators check the screens to see if they need to be cleaned or changed.

Since the separators were installed in-line, there was no need for additional tanks or piping, which reduced Warrell's installation costs by 25 percent. The company has been pleased with the savings and waste reduction the separator has provided. "The unit does such a good job of improving the purity of chocolate on our enrobing line that we have been able to reduce our downtime, increase productivity and cut the wear and tear on our pumps and nozzles," says Hahn.

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Jeff Dierig, Sweco,