Manufacturing cookies for ice cream is a demanding process. Not only should the cookies be made to a precise recipe, but they must also be made to the finest of tolerances as part of an automated process.
With about 150 different products supplied to ice cream companies throughout the United States, Joy Cone, Hermitage, Pa., is the world’s largest ice cream cone producer and a market leader in the production of cookies for ice cream sandwiches and mixes. When Joy Cone built its first cookie line in Iowa in 2012, it chose GEA Imaforni as its automated line partner and again last year for an even larger cookie line in Pennsylvania.
Larry Tomasiello, technical services manager, Joy Cone, explained that the plant in Iowa had only made wafer products until 2012, but when the company decided to diversify, he had to do some research, including visits to facilities in Europe, to find a supplier.
“We shopped the world and looked at several different companies for cookie lines,” he said. “We had the opportunity to visit some plants that were running GEA Imaforni lines, and I liked their equipment because it was up-to-date and provided everything we needed for safety, sanitation and production capabilities. I interviewed some operators and supervisors at those plants, and they were happy with the lines. I felt the Imaforni equipment had the best option for us as far as equipment design and ease of use.”
Flexibility also came into focus for Mr. Tomasiello. He said the line design provided easy access for sanitation and quick changes of belts and rollers to complete changeovers in a matter of minutes. Even thorough allergen cleaning required just a few hours.
Paolo Betto, area sales manager for GEA Imaforni, said that making cookies for ice cream is a difficult challenge.
“The dimensions, shape and weight must be perfect every time, and the tolerances are very exacting,” he explained.
A combination of tight controls and meticulous attention to engineering detail allowed the machine to achieve the required precision, Mr. Betto said.
“We have a large rotary moulder diameter and very fine tolerances between the roller and the knife to make sure every cookie is the same size,” he said. “We then control the oven carefully to make sure the bake on each biscuit is perfect and consistent.”
The relationship between Joy Cone and GEA Imaforni goes back almost 10 years. In the early days GEA Imaforni provided Joy Cone with access to its research facilities in Italy for product and process development.
“It was an excellent opportunity for us to demonstrate the technical capabilities and simplicity of our equipment in such an exacting application,” Mr. Betto said.
The strong relationship is not just with the sales team but also with the technicians and support team.
“The GEA Imaforni technician knows everybody and provides additional training when it’s needed,” Mr. Tomasiello said. “But we haven’t needed much support. We maintain the equipment ourselves and just have an oven safety inspection once a year.”
Joy Cone expanded its Iowa line from 1.2-meters wide to 1.5-meters, and Mr. Tomasiello was delighted with the outcome.
“The products are well within the required tolerances,” he said. “It basically runs on autopilot. That’s what has impressed me the most.”