At Heat and Control’s innovation center in Hayward, Calif., any obstacles the team might face during testing are simply characterized as … motivation. The staff doesn’t run from questions and unsolved problems; they’re determined to do whatever it takes to turn customers’ ideas into realities.
“We start by understanding your specific objectives and core processes,” said James Padilla, director of product development, processing, Heat and Control. “Then while nurturing those ideas in a relaxed environment, we will work hard to apply the latest processing and packaging technologies that promote product and process development and innovation.”
Built in 1997, the 6,150-square-foot facility is one of many Heat and Control innovation centers around the globe that provides engineered solutions, product testing and trials as well as packaging and inspection demonstrations. Three pillars form the foundation of the center: product development, convenience and analysis.
Because product development means many things to many customers, a variety of product types can be tested at the center, including snack foods, baked items and frozen foods. Next, development ranges from a new idea to a product needing tweaking.
“We invite you to bring a concept or a product and to use our production machinery to refine your formulation and identify the equipment that produces the desired results,” Mr. Padilla said.
Every process within the center is designed with the customer’s convenience in mind. Heat and Control’s staff members can perform product tests without customers having to be there. And not only can customers bring in their own specialized equipment, but the facility also houses a large variety of equipment choices, from convection and impingement ovens to sheeters to continuous and vacuum fryers.
“We offer the full range of Heat and Control’s processing equipment for development service and application confirmation,” Mr. Padilla noted. “We draw from the resources of a global platform to assist with trials and have in-house food analytics.”
Laboratory analyses — the center’s third pillar — detail the formulation and production process with capabilities to test water activity, moisture, temperature, oil content and weight. A process’ effects on other characteristics such as product moisture, fat content, taste, mouthfeel and finished yield also can be studied.
Part of the innovation center’s space is dedicated to the end of the production process. Heat and Control’s packaging and inspection demonstration rooms include snack bagmakers, product distribution and feed conveyors. On the inspection side, customers can use Ishida multihead weighers, X-ray inspection systems and CEIA metal detectors.
“Our test systems let you continuously run new product or a new package weight to evaluate speed, accuracy and product quality without interrupting busy production schedules at your plant,” Mr. Padilla noted.
Training sessions are boundless. Customers can participate in educational seminars for large groups or schedule a customized session based on in-house equipment, production goals and company needs.
“We offer customized operator and maintenance training that teaches your plant personnel how to safely operate our equipment to make consistently high-quality products at optimum production capacity,” Mr. Padilla explained. “We also offer process and applications training for industrial coating, frying and baking.”
With technical centers located around the world, Heat and Control can tap into additional expertise and testing capabilities if needed. For example, if there’s a challenge with product handling and conveying, the staff at Hayward contacts the Dallas team, which specializes in handling and conveying. The St. Louis location’s specialty is coating applications and rotary drying. The center in Lititz, Pa., is well-versed in packaging, and the team at Pembroke, N.H., knows fryers and batter and breading equipment well. The international innovation centers also have their own specialties that cater to specific regions.
This expertise gives Heat and Control the ability to carry out its innovation center’s mission to provide convenience and analysis for customers as well as overcome any challenges that crop up in the product development process.