Egan Food Technologies, based in Grand Rapids, MI, supplies customized food process machinery for the confectionery, baking, and snack food industries. The company also rebuilds, services, and supplies parts and auxiliary equipment for chocolate molding, depositing, extruding, slab forming, and baking equipment.

Chocolate molding equipment often requires custom engineering to meet food engineering specifications; this fact exists for beginning chocolatiers to large food processing factories. The heart of molding plants is the PLC/servo-controlled depositor, which optimizes center-to-shell ratios and overall product weights. Since each chocolatier is unique, Egan builds engineer-to-order (ETO) solutions—including parts and equipment.

This allows for flexibility which can be easily adapted for future growth, making mold plants a cost-effective solution. Chocolate molding plants must have the capacity to be customized with indexing or continuous chain circuits. Food customers with existing circuits require that custom-built depositors fit those circuits, regardless of original manufacturer.

Daffin’s Candies, which makes chocolates to support its retail stores and on-line business, recently put in a new molding line, and it was looking for a machine builder that could meet its needs. Daffin chose Egan Food Technologies because of its ability to match Daffin’s requirements quickly.

“The new molding line has benefited us greatly by eliminating production downtime and increasing production output and revenues. Most importantly, the one-shot depositor is producing a higher quality product with a better center to shell ratio. The ability to make fine adjustments to the process is invaluable,” says Gary Sigler, plant manager of Daffin’s Candies.

Connected software lets Egan respond quickly without paper

For candy machine manufacturers, designing and building machines and parts used to thrive on paperwork—CAD drawings, bills of material, parts listing, etc. Often CAD systems were standalone, connected to a specialty printer and not easily connected to ERP systems, which mange parts, part numbers, prices, etc. Imagine maintaining wide format printers to handle CAD drawings and large-format laser printers for everything else. Then think about all the papers required to manage a single part or subassembly.

Joe Cisler, design engineer at Egan
Joe Cisler, design engineer at Egan. Source: Egan Technologies

Egan looked for an ERP system that could connect with its CAD system to handle ETO requests from its food customers and chose COUNTERPART ERP, giving Egan’s entire team real-time access to whatever data it needed to handle food companies—like Daffin’s Candies—and requests for new parts to accommodate a new candy.

Joe Cisler, design engineer at Egan, described how the machine builder went paperless and increased access from the shop, purchasing and engineering. “We are down to one printer basically, and the only reason that is being used is for accounting records. Everything else from manufacturing to drawings is paperless.”

Could printers be a thing of the past? “Everybody can see everything digitally without having to print anything. COUNTERPART’s ability to directly integrate with PDM and automatically send the correct CAD files to vendors saves countless hours and eliminates mistakes,” says Cisler.

SOLIDWORKS integration essential for custom food industry equipment

Andrew Schutte, general manager at COUNTERPART ETO ERP
Andrew Schutte, general manager at COUNTERPART ETO ERP. Source:COUNTERPART 

“The main feature Cisler was seeking was a direct correlation to SOLIDWORKS,” says Andrew Schutte, general manager at COUNTERPART ETO ERP. “The company was using outdated technology to access database software that had no communication with SOLIDWORKS. Cisler chose COUNTERPART which has two-way communication direct to SOLIDWORKS.”

“One of the most useful features for food companies in the shop is the assembly app inside COUNTERPART,” adds Schutte. “It lists everything that is available and is ready to be built. The technology quickly and effectively adjusts product design to customer requirements, essential for ETO solutions in the food industry.”

Schutte is no stranger to machine design and building, one of those who had been mechanically inclined at a young age. Growing up in his father’s machine shop he was provided a valuable hands-on education of machining, fabrication, and mechanical design throughout high school. He moved to designing automation assembly equipment and machine design supporting the automotive, office furniture, medical equipment, and consumer product industries.

For more information:

Daffin’s Candies; Website

Egan Food Technologies (Web); Chocolate Molding Plant, Video on YouTube

COUNTERPART ETO ERP, (Twitter): @CounterpartErp, 616-738-8922.