"I think people perceive organic as more healthful and safer. Plus, as the baby boomers have aged they've become more concerned about what they're eating," he says. Five years ago, organic cereal was about 10-15 percent of US Foods' business. Today, about 48 percent of the company's volume is organic.
As a contract manufacturer, the company is unique in that it offers both batch cooking and extrusion capabilities. Overall, US Foods manufactures about 35 to 40 items under six or seven brand names, all at its 75,000-sq.-ft. plant in Lincoln, NE. In an effort to expand the business, last year, US Foods entered into negotiations with a cereal manufacturer for a large contract. The company's need for new equipment was never greater. "We needed to double our capacity quickly in order to secure this particular contract," says Williams. "We had to have another toaster installed in about 120 days."
US Foods consulted with Aeroglide at the recommendation of one of its customers. Although the AeroFlow Fluid Bed Puffer/Toaster was a new product in Aeroglide's equipment line, the company met US Foods' time and cost requirements. "I was a little hesitant because the equipment was new," says Williams, "but they offered us a money back guarantee that the equipment would be up and running when it needed to be."
Plans were made to move forward with equipment installation at US Foods' plant. The company selected the AeroFlow toaster, a cooler and a drier/cooler to help process the additional product necessary to meet its customers' demands. Designed for toasting flaked cereal and puffing rice cereal products, the AeroFlow uses a series of tubes to impinge high velocity and high temperature air onto a moving stream of food. It uses a high-temperature vibratory conveyor to carry product through two independent heat zones. According to Aeroglide, the vibratory conveyor is the heaviest in the industry and offers strict tolerances for the flatness of the pan under the high heat required.
Twenty-six weeks after the equipment order was placed, product trials started with multi-grain flakes, the first product tested. From the beginning of the trial, the product ran within specification. Since that time, production has continued on corn, wheat, multi-grain flakes and puffed rice. "The Aeroglide equipment has exceeded our expectations," says Williams. "We oversized the equipment for our current line and plan to use it to full capacity once we add some additional equipment upstream."
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Brian Hinkle, Aeroglide Corp.,
Screening the flow of flavor: Centrifugal screener doubles production and improves washdown rates for powder manufacturer.If your New Year's resolution was to grow your business, be careful what you wish for. With increasing sales comes increasing demand, a demand that you must fulfill.
Such was the case for Flavorchem Corp., a rapidly growing flavor company with locations in Downers Grove, IL and San Clemente, CA.
To help determine which type of screener would be best for its needs, Flavorchem turned to Kason Corp. "Based on laboratory tests with some basic powder flavors, Kason sized the sifter for the flow characteristics, bulk density, and flow rate we required," says David Russo, chief engineer at Flavorchem. "We then ran some of our most difficult products on a demonstration sifter." After extensive research and trial runs, Flavorchem chose a Kason model MO Quick-Clean Centri-Sifter.
At Flavorchem, the four basic carriers-cornstarch, yellow corn flour, dextrose and maltrin-are combined with as many as 10 additional ingredients to produce non-free-flowing blends having bulk densities of 28 to 50 lb./cu.-ft.
Carrier materials are loaded into an 80-cu.-ft. capacity blender in 3,000-lb. batches, after which liquid and dry ingredients are added. Following a blending cycle, the batch is gravity-fed into the centrifugal screener. The unit's feed screen redirects the material into a horizontally oriented, cylindrical nylon screen. Rotating helical paddles, which don't make contact with the screen, continuously accelerate the flow of on-size particles through apertures in the wall of the screen cylinder and serve to break-up soft agglomerates. The screener's compact design enables it to be positioned in a restricted space between the blender and 40-in. high fiber drums filled with 100 lbs. of material.
Flavorchem's frequent product changeovers necessitate a minimum of one washdown per shift. The Centri-Sifter's three-bearing design enables staff to complete the task quickly. "Operators have cleaned the unit in as little as one hour," says Russo, "which includes wet washing and blow drying all the assemblies and the machine's interior."
As part of the three-bearing design, the shaft cantilevers on a bearing located between the motor end of the shaft and the material feed screw. When the hinged cover is open, the paddle assembly and screen cylinder can be slid off of the shaft for cleaning or screen changes. During operation, the shaft rides on both shaft-end bearings with no dependence on the inboard bearing for support. "The design affords us a smooth operation," says Russo. "Bearings at both the motor end of the shaft and on the hinged cover at the discharge end provide extra support and eliminate vibration at high speeds and loads."
In addition to the faster washdown capability, the Centri-Sifter boosted output from 100 lb./min. to 250 lb./min. Pleased with the results, Flavorchem plans to add a second three-bearing centrifugal sifter and a 6,000-lb. capacity blender to triple plant capacity in anticipation of further business growth.
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Lift & weigh checkweighersCapable of production rates up to 400 units per minute, the Sonic 350-LW Lift-N-Weigh checkweigher offers stop motion weighing of packaged products weighing from 10 to 200 grams, with accuracies of up to +/- 0.5 gram. The weighing mechanism is mounted above the conveyor, enabling it to pick product up off of the carrier. The precision scale is capable of weighing about 60 rows of five packets a minute or two rows of five in each carrier.
Height restricted dischargerThe Type 5 Bulk Bag Discharger from Spiroflow can discharge powder material in height-restricted areas where a raised forklift frame is higher than actual heights. The unit's removable frame design allows the operator to load the bag and frame at the lower half of the discharger. The upper frame uses a unique sealing mechanism to ensure no product loss during discharge while the locking system allows access to the bag spout through a large viewing porthole.
Rod level switchThe BinMaster series CVR-600 compact single rod vibrating level switch offers single point level detection in free flowing solids and dry products. The compact version is 3-in. long on the sensing element and designed for smaller hoppers or plugged chute detection. The company says the CVR-600 series offers a solution in applications where tuning fork style switches become blocked or bridged. When material covers the rod of the probe, the vibration stops. When the blade is uncovered, the vibration will restart.
Size reduction systemDesigned to produce consistent particle size with virtually no heat generation or dust, Gericke's Nibbler uses a low speed, fully adjustable rotor assembly to pull material along a proprietary perforated steel plate. The unit's perforated grate is available in sizes from 1.1 to 25 mm and can be removed and reinstalled without disturbing the flange connections or the rotor. Available in mild or stainless steel and various other finishes, the Nibbler comes in a range of sizes.
Bulk bag fillerFlexicon's Swing-Down bulk bag filler features a pivot-down fill head that enables the operator to connect empty bags at floor level and resume filling operations in less than one minute. The filler simultaneously lowers and pivots the fill head, stopping it in a vertically oriented position that places the bag inlet spout inflatable connection, inflator button, and four bag loop latches within one arm's length of an operator standing on the plant floor. The company says the unit eliminates the need to climb steps, strain to reach overhead connection points or risk injury.
Lift & seal dumperThe MTS Lift & Seal System from Material Transfer discharges various sized drums of food powders into a receiving hopper at 36-in. above floor level. The unit hydraulically seals drums to a 304 stainless steel pour cone for dust-tight operation, while a 60-degree discharge angle promotes full product discharge. Material Transfer says units can be custom designed for specific application requirements.
Material Transfer & Storage;
Topper feeder systemDesigned to convey bulk materials from drums, a bag dump station or bulk bags to topping machines, the VAC-U-MAX Topper Feeder features a long extension tube and slots for even distribution of material across the topping hopper. It incorporates a vacuum conveying system capable of moving up to 1,250 lbs. per hour. The system is available in 316L stainless steel and can be made to meet USDA requirements.