Conveyors transporting ingredients
Company uses new equipment to boost output, efficiency.

Starting business as a one truck direct-store delivery service in 1979, Brimhall Foods, Bartlett, Tenn., has grown into a manufacturer and distributor of a wide selection of Brim’s brand and private label snacks.           

From its 77,000-square-foot manufacturing facility the company produces pork rinds, cracklins, cheese puffs and curls, extruded onion rings, and numerous flavors of popcorn and corn pops.

“We also distribute potato chips, tortilla chips, and lots of other snack foods throughout the Southeast,” said Michael Patrick, general manager. “We’ve grown by having the flexibility to meet the needs of our customers and because we make great products at affordable prices.”

Along with growth came added challenges to keep up with customer demand and to isolate the many different seasonings applied each day.  Depending on the line, Brimhall Foods applies numerous flavors, such as butter, orange cheddar, white cheddar, hot spice, and some specialty seasonings. Being an SQF Level 2 Safe Quality Food Institute certified facility, the plant takes great care to prevent cross-contamination.  

“With the variety of products and flavors we run, it became apparent we needed more efficient and reliable equipment that was easier to clean,” Mr. Patrick said. After researching different suppliers and equipment, Brimhall Foods expanded its plant with the installation of new seasoning application, conveying, weighing, and bagmaking machinery from Heat and Control, Inc., Hayward, Calif.

The new line includes three Spray Dynamics slurry coating systems, each with 10-foot-long, 48-inch diameter tumble drums and seasoning mist collectors to prevent cross contamination. FastBack horizontal motion conveyers transfer snacks from each coating drum to Heat and Control incline conveyors that utilize urethane scoop-flight belts to elevate the product to the packaging platform in the adjoining room. There, FastBack 260E and 90E horizontal motion conveyors distribute product to multihead weighers, including two new 14-head Ishida R-Series weighers that are direct-mounted to two Ishida Atlas 233 VFFS snack bagmakers with integrated CEIA metal detectors.

From seasoning application to packaging, Brimhall Foods was impressed with the new equipment.  “We now get 10% more production in 20% less time,” Mr. Patrick said. “The improved efficiency and the additional baggers have allowed us to realize our production goals.”

Mr. Patrick noted that the Spray Dynamics seasoning systems provides uniform slurry coverage with better control and consistency of seasoning application. Furthermore, he said the gentle horizontal motion of the FastBack conveyors prevents the loss and build-up of seasonings and the smooth one-piece pans are easy to clean. 

The Ishida Total Packaging System integrates the new weighers and bagmakers so they can be controlled and monitored from a single touch screen. Using a Windows-based computer, real-time production data can be obtained to reduce waste and maintain high production efficiency.

“The iTPS system makes changeovers and operation easy,” said Mr. Patrick, adding that the CEIA metal detectors integrated into the weigher-bagmaker stackups save space and help assure the safety of Brimhall Foods’ products.

“We chose Heat and Control because of their competitive price and good reputation for service after the sale,” Mr. Patrick said. “Their sales and project management people were very helpful and have a lot of experience in our industry. There were some issues with the startup and operator training but Heat and Control sent in additional people to quickly correct these problems.”