July 24, 2012
by Bryan Salvage
Cleaning and sanitizing meat and poultry plants are critical in day-to-day operations to maintain food safety and enhance food quality. Consistency, speed, thoroughness and effectiveness are “musts”, particularly when cleaning and sanitizing various types and sizes of equipment and accessories. Automated washing systems can play an important role in helping packers and processors achieve both means.
For example, late last year plant management at Jack Link’s New Glarus, Wis., processing facility decided to upgrade its formulation room – where beef sticks and sausages are ground and blended – after 12 years of operating. The room was redesigned to maximize efficiencies and ensure that safety and quality standards are exceeded.
Part of the redesign included installing an automated, washing system for vats and buggies to improve efficiency within the limited confines of the room. By installing the new system, plant officials hoped to improve turnaround of 1,200-lb. stainless steel vats and 600-lb. buggies that transport raw meat prior to processing. Corona, Calif.-based CM Process Solutions LLC (CMPS) supplied the equipment.
“We purchased the washing equipment to streamline processes in our redesigned formulation room,” explains Jeff Abrahamson, quality-assurance manager. “It’s important that our vats and buggies are cleaned and sanitized quickly and thoroughly. The vats are too big to be cleaned manually, so we needed a washing system that would clean and sanitize multiple vats and buggies automatically, within a limited space.”
Abrahamson’s staff designed the washing system along with engineers from CMPS.
The team first toured the facility to identify needs and then developed several options and solutions for plant management to consider, Abrahamson says. “We customized the equipment to maximize our available space and that has really paid off,” he adds.
The new system maximizes throughput within the space and saves on labor costs while ensuring proper food quality and safety standards are exceeded, Abrahamson concluded.
Poultry processing solutions
Hazlehurst, Miss.-based DG Foods recently built a new poultry-processing facility in Bastrop, La., to serve customers in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and other states west of its headquarters plant. Processing thousands of lbs. of chicken daily, the operation required an automated washer that could clean and sanitize totes and lids used to transfer chicken from the slaughtering facility to the new processing plant.
“We needed an automated washing system to recycle the totes as part of our continuous-processing operation,” says Bill Bryant, general manager of the Bastrop plant. “Without it, we would be unable to efficiently clean and properly sanitize the totes and lids and we couldn’t re-use them in the processing operation.”
After researching suppliers, Bryant’s team contacted CMPS to review the system requirements and specifications. “They did a very good job in recommending and configuring the system we eventually purchased,” Bryant says. “It was exactly what we needed at a competitive price.”
Variety of solutions
CMPS offers a range of automated washing equipment to clean lugs, trays, buckets, vats, buggies, bins, racks, pallets and smoke trucks – across all areas of the food industry.
In the US and Canadian meat and poultry industry, lug washing and buggy washing have been the company’s most popular sales due to the high volumes of these containers used throughout this sector, says Mark Corser, president and CEO.
“Most applications can be solved by one of our standard products, others need a more tailored design,” Corser says. “Multi-function machines, for example, are a particular specialty of CMPS. For example, we’ve supplied combination pallet and lug washers and combination buggy and lid washers.”
All CMPS equipment, whether standard or custom design, is built with hygienic design as the focus. “Not only do our machines have to wash the lugs and buggies, etc., but they have to be easily cleaned themselves, so quick-and-easy access for routine cleaning is paramount in our design philosophy,” Corser says.
CMPS has been working with meat and poultry processors on a number of systems offering more economic operation during their working life by controlling water use and streamlining efficiency of electric motors. “We believe that it’s not just about the initial purchase being competitive, it’s the life cost,” Corser concludes.