ThermoDrive Incline-to-Packaging Retrofit Reduces Changeover Time by 58%
The support from Intralox and Commercial Food Sanitation has been amazing…both companies are extremely professional, they’re friendly, and they do whatever it takes to get it done.Dave Morris, McEntire Produce Senior VP of Operations
Started as a tomato-packing operation more than 80 years ago, McEntire Produce has grown into a leading fresh-cut processor, repacker, and wholesaler serving food-service customers throughout the United States. It operates across two shifts a day, five days a week, from a state-of-the-art facility in Columbia, South Carolina.
To support its wide selection of fruit and vegetable products, McEntire performs product changeovers as often as 10-12 times per day per incline. Belts and equipment are cleaned thoroughly between each run and fully sanitized at the end of every second shift. With food safety as a top priority, the company continuously optimizes its facility for sanitation and to prevent foreign material contamination.
“I would say, without a doubt, food safety is the biggest driver for us,” says Mike Haygood, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for McEntire. “Obviously quality is extremely important, and we have very, very strict quality standards, as do our customers. But food safety, by far, is what’s driving the industry.”
McEntire’s incline-to-packaging conveyors presented unique challenges to sanitation due to the height of the conveyors, their limited access, and the weight of the conveyor belts.
“What makes the scale incline hard to clean,” says Dave Morris, Senior Vice President of Operations, “is it’s very high, it’s very tall, it’s very long. The belt is very heavy, so it’s very difficult to get to all the points that you need to…it takes a lot of time to clean this belt effectively.”
Looking to reduce cleaning times and increase uptime, McEntire turned to Intralox. Collaborating with specialists from Commercial Food Sanitation (CFS), an Intralox company, Intralox performed a detailed conveyor assessment and recommended Intralox® ThermoDrive® belting to retrofit the C9 scale incline and hopper. Intralox and CFS also worked with McEntire to enhance current training programs and implement design and process improvements that reduced changeover time and improved hygiene and belt performance.
Since retrofitting their scale incline conveyor with ThermoDrive in August 2018, McEntire has seen dramatic improvements in cleaning time and efficiency. The company has since converted other inclines to ThermoDrive and plans to upgrade even more in the months and years ahead.
Combined with the training, design, and good manufacturing process (GMP) enhancements developed with Intralox and CFS, ThermoDrive technology has reduced changeover time by 58% per incline conveyor. Related costs—including water, chemicals, energy, and labor—have also decreased. “Because there’s so many changeovers,” says Morris, “when you start adding this up over the course of a year, it ends up being tens of thousands of dollars.”
Cleaning is now much simpler, since the ThermoDrive belts are lighter weight and can be easily lifted and cleaned in place using belt lifters. With simpler processes and easier access, worker safety has been enhanced. And with less time spent cleaning, production uptime has increased considerably.
Morris has strong praise not only for ThermoDrive, but for Intralox and CFS as well. “The support from Intralox and Commercial Food Sanitation has been amazing. I believe that’s because all three companies want to innovate and help the food industry get better. Whenever we have a question, whenever we need help, they’ve always been available…both companies are extremely professional, they’re friendly, and they do whatever it takes to get it done.”