One of the key issues facing ingredient companies today is how to find the right solution to package products containing small particulates. It can be a difficult task due to the various particle sizes and inherent cleaning challenges these products present. Companies such as Honeyville Inc. have grasped this well.
The Brigham City, UT-based food ingredient manufacturer needed to optimize packaging of whole grains, specialty flours and powered blends including dry bakery, drink, breakfast, soups and side dishes, with equipment that would ease sanitization, run faster and offer greater durability than its current machinery.
Today, the family-owned company manufactures, blends and processes ingredients for a variety of foods and markets. Products are available to consumers and businesses via the company’s website or through one of its locations in Utah, California, Arizona and Ohio. Honeyville specializes in formulating custom blends, ranging in size from small pilot batches to large-scale production runs.
Seeking one solution to ease complexity
The nature of Honeyville’s business requires sophisticated and strategic line solutions. Measuring, filling and packaging multiple ingredients — particularly small particles — poses a number of challenges to production line efficiency. Due to the small size of the ingredients being packaged, some are difficult to run on the production line, and equipment can require more specific care, particularly in the area of sanitization.
Variety and customization are key value propositions to Honeyville’s global customers. To provide them with custom product blends and packaging, the company uses many packaging formats, including horizontal fill and zip packages, and pre-made fill and flat bottom bags. Because of the number of specialty ingredients, Honeyville experienced some filling challenges that prompted a search for a flexible, efficient solution for mixing complex ingredient combinations.
“Blending grains and flours is no easy task, especially when it comes to packaging our products,” said Richard Larsen, director of corporate facilities and equipment, Honeyville Inc. “In our industry, meeting our daily production needs and running our lines at top-speed are not goals that often go hand-in-hand, so finding a filler to help us boost production was a challenge.”
Discovering success at PACK EXPO International
Not to be deterred, Mr. Larsen and his team visited PACK EXPO International 2014 in Chicago in search of the right filling solution.
While exploring the show, Mr. Larsen sat in on an Innovation Stage presentation by Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery. He had met Spee-Dee’s vice-president of sales and marketing, Timm Johnson, in 2012 at a PMMI seminar. He was definitely looking forward to meeting Mr. Johnson again at the 2014 show to learn more about Spee-Dee could work with Honeyville.
Spee-Dee’s auger and cup filler systems are designed for precise, repeatable filling cycles and high-speed operations.
“At Spee-Dee, we commit ourselves to our customer’s needs,” Mr. Johnson said. “There have been times when we needed to turn down projects because we knew we were not the right solution. With Honeyville, we thought we had the right mix of auger and cup fillers that would work for them. Before we could commit to the project, however, we wanted to understand its needs to ensure a productive partnership.”
Spee-Dee and Honeyville worked closely in the months following PACK EXPO International. What made their partnership so successful was the back-and-forth communication about their application.
Filling a product successfully depends on several factors, all of which need to be considered during the early stages of the design process. To design a filling system that met Honeyville’s needs, Spee-Dee needed to know all the products being filled; the density, weight and volume of those products; the package the products are going in; the size of the opening of each package; the speed the packages are traveling at and other related parameters. Having accurate answers to these questions helped streamline the engineering process and deliver equipment that performed as expected for Honeyville.
Because Honeyville was in need of such a specific solution, the company played an active role in driving Spee-Dee’s innovation.
“What was so unusual about our testing process was that Honeyville actually drove us to innovate faster than we had initially planned by specifying their needs and communicating them to our team,” Mr. Johnson explained. “We have always insisted that if we are going to do something different, then it has to be better than what already exists.”
The final result Spee-Dee implemented were auger and cup fillers designed to integrate with Honeyville’s bagging and vertical form/fill/seal equipment. The augers were outfitted with split hoppers, which open up and gives operators complete access to the changeover tooling and easy access for cleaning. Spee-Dee, which typically offers a 16-gal hopper, created a 20-gal version specifically for Honeyville.
“Not only was Spee-Dee able to match our needs using new technology, but it was also able to provide us with equipment that reduced our operating cost and decreased our changeover time,” Mr. Larsen said.
More on the horizon
This year’s PACK EXPO International and the co-located Pharma EXPO — set for Nov. 6-9 at Chicago’s McCormick Place — will offer solutions and insights to overcome processing and packaging challenges in a variety of industries, including food and beverage, baking and snack, confectionery, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and biotechnology. Together, the shows present attendees with technologies for the entire processing and packaging supply chain.
Spee-Dee (Booth No. N-5436) will showcase its latest filling solutions. Attendees can view the Spee-Dee Servo auger and cup filler systems on display at the company’s booth as well as other top-of-the-line packaging equipment.
To learn more and to register for PACK EXPO visit www.packexpointernational.com.To learn more about Honeyville Inc., visit www.honeyville.com, and for more information on Spee-Dee Packaging, visit www.spee-dee.com.