In February 2014, Cheryl’s, Westerville, Ohio, blew out the walls of its 17,000-square-foot baking facility to make room for its booming business. With sales growing, manufacturing had to expand to keep up. It was the first expansion to the footprint of the building since the company moved in, in 1994. With more production capacity, the packaging line had to grow, too.
“Packaging had become a pinch point for us,” said Elisabeth Allwein, product development director for Cheryl’s. “We were at capacity. We couldn’t package fast enough to keep up with production, and packaging is very important because the seal affects every product.”
Four horizontal baggers would no longer cut it to individually package the company’s signature cookies. After deciding to add two more wrappers, Cheryl’s decided it was time to shop around for a new supplier, just to see what was out there.
The equipment purchasing committee discovered Formost Fuji, Woodinville, Wash. This committee, made up of representatives from product development, operations, maintenance and sanitation, makes all of Cheryl’s equipment recommendations, and having representatives from all the departments enables the bakery to consider the equipment as a whole. When shopping for a new horizontal wrapper, each representative was impressed with Formost Fuji’s machine, said David Adell, director of operations, Cheryl’s. Product development loved the heat seal for freshness. Maintenance and sanitation appreciated its accessible and sanitary design. And operations liked how easy and fast the equipment could handle changeovers.
Once cookies are individually packaged, operators pack them in boxes before they are trucked to the distribution center to be frozen.
Cheryl’s packaging investments don’t stop there, however. A vertical packaging machine looms over the horizontal wrappers to bag one of Cheryl’s newer products, crunchy cookies. These cookies, a departure from Cheryl’s softer buttercream frosted cookies, required a new packaging strategy, and the company invested in a vertical packaging machine. This new product has taken off, and the vertical packager quickly expanded from the initial two-bucket scale to 14. Cookies are removed from pans and fed into the packager’s hopper by hand. The machine scales the cookies and bags them. Operators then fill boxes with the bagged cookies.By working with equipment suppliers and running new equipment investments with multiple departments, Cheryl’s found new equipment that would meet all the needs of its operations: product quality, maintenance, sanitation and operations.