San Francisco Foods is a California-based manufacturer of frozen food and meal replacement food products. The company’s main products are stuffed pizzas and calzones, each available in a variety of ingredient combinations. Homemade taste and appearance are the hallmarks of their product quality.
The company was founded in 1998 and quickly grew out of its 9,900-square-foot (920 sq. m) San Francisco plant. It then relocated to a new, 48,000-square-foot (4,460 sq. m) facility in San Leandro, California. In the new facility, production lines were carefully configured to preserve the homemade quality of the products as well as production efficiency. The company also paid close attention to sanitation issues and designed their plant so that almost every part of the line could be washed down.
A key conveyor in their new plant was an ambient spiral cooler. The spiral cooler allowed San Francisco Foods to increase their efficiencies by reducing the temperature of the hot baked products prior to freezing, thus requiring less time and nitrogen during the freezing process. Since reducing nitrogen usage can substantially decrease a spiral freezer’s operational costs, having an effective ambient spiral cooler is vital to maintaining plant efficiencies.
Originally, the spiral cooler was equipped with a metal belt, but the company found that the belt marked the bottom of their delicate, hot pizza and calzone products. Also, maintenance for the metal belt was difficult. Any adjustment to the length of the metal belt required special tools for cutting and splicing. And as any damage to a metal belt is rarely isolated to one small belt section, often a large portion of the belt will stretch or become permanently damaged when problems occur.
Having had good experiences with Intralox modular plastic belting in the past, San Francisco Foods consulted Intralox to replace their metal belt. They believed that the non-stick, non-porous plastic belt material would be ideal for their application, and they were correct. They replaced a 1,200-foot-long (366 m), 32-inch-wide (813 mm) belt with Intralox’s spiral belting for the cooler application.
Since installing the Intralox belt, San Francisco Foods has realized maintenance benefits. “Maintenance amounts to routine visual inspection, and clean up is quick and easy,” said the San Francisco Foods Maintenance Manager.
With the Intralox belting design, it is also easier to modify the length of the belt by adding or removing modules. In the event of an accident, usually only a small number of modules or belt rows are impacted. The plastic belt won’t stretch out of shape, and the snap-in rods are far less complex to deal with than the metal rods.
After a year of service, an Intralox spiral expert assessed the performance of the spiral belt in the San Francisco Foods cooler. “It’s one year later, and we haven’t had to make any major adjustments to the belt or the spiral, and the belt shows no sign of wear. We expect the belt to last for years to come,” he said.