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Mepaco Parts Status Update: Just-In-Time VS. Just-In-Case

Updated 4/1/21

An uptick in the manufacturing economy, reduction of COVID restrictions, COVID vaccine availability and the Suez Canal crisis have made material sourcing and parts management unpredictable.

Apache’s material supply in stainless sheet and plate are produced in the United States. Pipes, fittings, and electrical components are often produced overseas. Further, some components such as motors and gear boxes may require parts from foreign suppliers to manufacture their products.

In 2020, many material suppliers and component manufacturers depleted inventory to manage budget during shutdowns and slow economic conditions.  Now, these businesses are scrambling with staff and resources to support demand.

Apache is being proactive with all sourcing solutions.  We are working closely to leverage our relationships and buying power with vendors to manage our sourcing needs.  We are looking into other supply partners and manufacturers with flexibility and less dependency on foreign manufacturers.

We do not know when the situation will normalize, but we can offer our expertise and advise.  If you haven’t done so already, switch from a “Just-In-Time” parts program to a “Just-In-Case” program.  Make sure you have long lead items in your parts inventory, so you don’t experience downtime in your critical operations.

Long Lead Time Parts:

  • Agitators
  • Cylinders
  • Motors
  • Gear Motors
  • Gear Boxes

Please note that even short lead time components are at risk of delays.


For more information, please contact parts@apachestainless.com or call 920-356-7347.
 


Surge Loading Metering Screw Conveyor is Key Component in 24/7 Formulation Line

The Metering Screw Conveyor with surge loading capabilities is the key equipment component in this (above) 24/7 formulation line.  

In the system above, pre-broken frozen food products (red meat, fish, chicken, vegetables) are delivered to a designated metering screw on a traversing belt which locates the exact drop position. Once the recipe is established and the demand is made, the applicable metering screws deliver product.

Load cells are used to measure product displacement over a given time (loss-in-weight method). Mixers, blenders, or cookers signal for the raw materials in a given SKU, and the surge loading metering screw conveyors will deliver the correct quantity of product required through the primary grinder and then to the batch for final formulation.

Metering screws have versatile designs that are suitable for different food handling requirements: 

  • Applications for the cross-screw hopper include trim meat and course or fine ground meats (fresh or frozen).  
  • The best-fit applications for clean sweep hopper designs are course or ground meats or food product (fresh or frozen).  
  • The dual-screw design is often considered in trim and / or whole muscle applications.

 

Metering Screws provide the surge loading benefits required to fulfill production goals in the batch formulation system above. The clean-sweep Metering Screw has an off-set screw agitator designed to clear food product from the hopper between batches. This batch processing line reduced labor and eliminated downtime with continuous, 24/7 large batch production: utilizing real-time material availability and on-demand formulation.

Visit Metering Screw page.

 


[Infographic] Why Mepaco Mixer-Blenders are still in operation after 40 years

The main reasons that Mepaco Mixers have a legacy in Meat Processing is the Total Cost of Ownership, created by blend accuracy, sanitation efficiencies and proven safety features.

The overlapping paddle blender will guarantee a homogeneous blend that reaches ½% deviation in less than 90 seconds of blending, resulting in:

  • More blender turns, which increase overall production rate
  • Reduced breakdown of fat cells that can lead to smearing issues on equipment surfaces and fatting out of the product in downstream processes
  • Yield improvements

Mixers are designed to fully discharge contents of each batch which allows for traceability from batch to batch. Electropolished finishes on food contact surfaces creates an ultra-smooth finish that produces efficiencies in sanitation.

Equipment designs, safety grates and safety relays prevent staff from reaching into equipment.

The robust build and workmanship quality, combined with blend accuracy, safety and sanitation performance is why these Mixers are still in operation after 49 years.

Visit Industrial Mixers


Why Agitator Solutions are Important to Quality and Throughput in Cooking Operations

The type and viscosity of food product, thermal processing technology, desired texture, and cooking/processing cycle times are considered when specifying the agitator solution. Primary consideration for mixing or blending agitator solution begins with the ability for the food product to self-level. Agitator configurations also include scrapers with indirect cooking applications.

In some applications, the agitator itself may not significantly affect throughput improvement, but the overall solution does. The driving forces for throughput in batch processing is cycle times, loading, and discharging.

However, the wrong agitator solution will not mix or blend the product well. Solids need to be homogeneous and remain intact during processing operations. Further, the product must remain in a mixed state throughout the process and discharge operations.

During project discussions, Mepaco’s application team defines mixing as adding ingredients for the correct mix and consistency, while blending provides a change of the food product's properties.

The thermal processing solution is customized to the specific application. The PLC is programmed to include agitator speeds, pauses, and direction changes for the desired results. Further, the Mixer or Blender equipment will be sized for the batch volume required along with options (vacuum, cooling, searing, caramelizing) to meet the batch cycle times, quality and throughput goals for the processing solution.

Visit Mixers or Visit Cookers


Practical Equipment Strategies to Remove Foreign Contaminants from Processing Lines

Large-volume automation in the meat processing industry brings a higher risk of foreign material contamination. Foreign material can include metal shavings and shards from grinders, mixers and dicers, wood and nails from pallets, and numerous other materials like plastics and glass.

The following are equipment options and proper maintenance practices that can help mitigate foreign material risk in food handling transfer areas:

  • In areas where a tote dumper is used to transfer meat to secondary processing equipment, equipment manufacturers can offer a PRS (Pallet Retention System) that removes the pallet out of the food transfer zone.
  • A drop belt conveyor can be included in system designs that provides repositioning of the meat product during conveyance to allow for visual inspection before the product is transported to downstream equipment.
  • Magnetic grates can be integrated into food transfer areas on processing equipment.
  • The best way to limit foreign material such as nuts, bolts, and metal shavings is to have a robust preventative maintenance program on all equipment.  Machinery vibration can cause nuts and bolts to loosen over time. Wear points on machinery that are not aligned can produce loose metal.  Brittle plastics such as seal holders, conveyor guards and plastic bearings can break down into small pieces and become difficult to detect. Proper construction of the equipment that withstands high-volume and high-speed production is equally important as regular maintenance audits to make sure the equipment is in good working order to help eliminate preventable foreign contamination.

[Infographic] Why Processors like Mepaco's Dumping Equipment

Mepaco’s Meat Processors opt for dumping equipment features that provide the highest level of personnel and food safety, including:

  • Personnel guarding designed for the entire dump-zone footprint and safety relays that control the e-stop position; and optional pocket door designs that allow for safe fork truck access for loading and unloading.
  • A Pallet Retention System (PRS) that allows the combo to complete the dump cycle while separating from the pallet, limiting the potential for contamination in the food stream.
  • A liner hold-down that prevents the liner from separating from the combo and falling into the hopper.
  • An optional electropolished finish on the chute solves for sanitation efficiency and effectiveness.

Compare EP Food Contact Surfaces under 200X Magnification

Apache routinely conducts tests for customers and in-house studies on the benefits of electropolished surfaces on food contact surfaces.

Highlighted above, is a study that compares high-end finishes under 200X magnification:

  1. 304 Stainless Steel Bead Blast Finish with readings from 35 – 45 RA
  2. 304 Stainless Steel 2B + Electropolished Finish with reading from 5 – 6 RA
  3. 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish (12-gauge material) with reading from 15 – 17 RA
  4. 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish (10-gauge material) with reading from 20 – 30 RA

It shows the RA (Roughness average) reading in four finish examples of 304 stainless steel. In the study, the electropolished finish is more than six times smoother that the bead blasted finish.

What makes this study significant is that food processors can leverage electropolished surfaces to increase food safety performance.  Our customer’s who choose electropolished food contact surfaces tell us that food safety is significantly enhanced, and sanitation efficiencies are realized in time savings and water usage.


Maintenance Audit Discovers Repairs that Decrease Batch Time by 2 Minutes

We received a request for a maintenance audit on a high volume meat processing line that is a supplier to fast food restaurant chains.  The first round of inspection uncovered several maintenance issues:

SYMPTOM
A Pump Feeder motor kept tripping the breaker and caused constant down-time.

RECOMMENDATION/REPAIR
The gearbox bearings were bad and was causing excess loading. The gearbox was replaced which fixed the issue. Reducing down-time for that Pump Feeder.

SYMPTOM
Mixers on the processing line did not pull sufficient vacuum.

RECOMMENDATION/REPAIR
Both mixers had multiple vacuum leaks through cracked welds, worn out seals, incorrect seals and improperly installed seals The seals were replaces and the cracked welds were repaired which allowed the unit to pull required vacuum 2 minutes faster, decreasing cycle times.

SYMPTOM
Inspection uncovered possible catastrophic failure of the agitators.  

RECOMMENDATION/REPAIR
Both mixers had agitators with cracked welds. They were repaired during scheduled maintenance.

SYMPTOM
Vacuum Stuffers were underperforming.

RECOMMENDATION/REPAIR
Two stuffers in the processing line were underperforming and producing poor quality product due to lack of vacuum. Both stuffers had worn out pumps that were rebuilt and worn out seals that were replaced.  These changes gave the processor a 28% increase in throughput out of the stuffer and better-quality product without air bubbles.

The cost for the maintenance audit, including a detailed report was $2000, plus travel expenses. The result was savings in energy, down-time, batch turnaround and overall increased production. This processor in fact, contracts with Mepaco every six months for a maintenance audit to avoid unplanned delays and to make sure their line is running as efficiently as possible.

Learn more about Field Services

 

 

 


Column Dumpers - Featuring 60 degree dump angle

Processors should be able to focus on critical operations and not have to worry about auxiliary equipment. That's what Mepaco's CD1000 Column Dumper delivers; a Column Dumper that is heavily built, engineered for easy maintenance, built to strict sanitary design standards, and like our processing equipment solutions, modifiable to meet specific production requirements.

The animation features a new option in Mepaco's Column Dumper, a 60 degree dump angle for applications where every particulate must be added to the batch.

For more information, download our Column Dumper Flyer.


7 Parts to Consider for Holiday Shutdown

Holiday-Blog-Post.jpg

Here's a quick infographic and guide with 7 common parts in food processing equipment that should be in stock for year-end / holiday shut-down maintenance.

EMERGENCY

1. Motors: Extra motors can prevent unnecessary emergency shut-downs and lost production.

LONG LEAD TIME

2. Agitators: Agitators are custom fabricated to your machine specification, and require longer lead time than typical parts.

3. Cylinders: Make sure you have cylinder back-ups, which can also have  long lead times.

RECOMMENDED SPARES

4. Safety Switches: Keep extra safety switches in inventory to reduce downtime.

5. Bearings: Mepaco's recommendation for bearings is 1 or 2 back-ups. Check to see if the bearing is a common stock item; if it is not common, plan for longer lead times.

PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE

6. Shaft Seals: Plan on 2 - 3 seals per shaft, depending on usage.

7. Gaskets: Gaskets are usually sold in bulk by the foot, check your inventory to make sure you have an ample supply.

 

If you want to review your parts needs, contact Monica Planasch, Mepaco's Parts Manager, at monica.planasch@apachestainless.com.  

 

 

 


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