There’s no question that people love cookies, cakes and other baked goods. In fact, the adoration is so high for cookies alone that some estimates tab the figure at more than two billion of them are eaten every year. Now that’s a lot of cookies.
Of course nearly all of those cookies, cakes and other sweet treats start out as baking mix, many of which can be purchased from major retailers across the country and prepared at home. To help meet the insatiable demand for these ultimate comfort foods, a leading baking mix is blended and packaged at PacMoore’s, Hammond, Ind. facility. PacMoore (pacmoore.com), an external manufacturer specializing in food manufacturing and packaging that serves more than 40 customers, uses two Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery (spee-dee.com) dry filling machines to fill the baking mix into boxes in preparation for sale in retail stores nationwide.
Flow of production
The line used to fill and package the baking mix is relatively new at PacMoore. The company began building it in June 2013, filling its first pouches a month later. The process starts with the baking mix, which is first blended at PacMoore, then moved to a second floor filling station. Two large bags, each containing about 1,700 pounds of mix, hang over vibratory hoppers and steadily feed mix down a chute into the awaiting Spee-Dee fillers.
Although a combined 3,400 pounds of baking mix sounds like a lot, each bag is emptied in about 30 minutes, which is why four additional bags are always in position ready to be hoisted up to keep the line moving.
The two Spee-Dee Servo auger fillers purchased by PacMoore specifically for this line are designed to integrate with automatic equipment such as baggers, pouch machines, cartoners, conveyors and vertical form fill seal systems. These Spee-Dee auger fillers are engineered to fill various dry products, from free flowing granular powder filling to non flowing powder-like substances.
“We’re very pleased with the fillers, and that’s why we continue to buy Spee-Dee,” says Scott Reid, vice president of operations, PacMoore. “We feel our Spee-Dee fillers are a great solution for the majority of what we do. Once we get it set up, we really don’t have to touch it.”
PacMoore owns and operates a total of five Spee-Dee fillers at its Hammond facility. The company also has a second facility in Mooresville, IN.
During normal operation the filling line produces about 90 pouches a minute, with each pouch receiving 11.4 ounces of mix. Integrated with a form fill seal machine, the pouches are sealed and pushed onto an incline conveyor where they get weighted, pass through a metal detection system and onto a collection table. Pouches that fail either of the two checks get rejected out of the line.
Next, three employees place pouches, along with a pre-packaged pouch insert of seasoning, onto a cleated conveyor for a short 20-foot trip to the cartoner machine to be packaged. After the mix and seasoning is placed inside the box, it then moves through a second metal detection, but this unit is set up in reverse to detect the seasoning packet; if it’s not present, the box is rejected. The last stop for the boxes is shipping, where two employees package them 12 in a case to be palletized.
PacMoore runs the line 24 hours a day, six days a week. In following with leadership’s strict adherence to Christian principles, the company closes on Sundays.
“We are a for-profit company, but we’re uniquely Christian in that there’s a greater purpose out there for what we do,” says Chris Bekermeier, vice president sales and marketing, PacMoore.
He explained the company places great importance on the values of faith, family, integrity, respect and excellence. Additionally, PacMoore has established Business as Mission (BAM) developments, a term coined by the Christian community to describe the intersection of faith and business, in locales around the world including Uganda, Kenya, Tahiti and Nepal for the sole purpose of establishing sustainable companies that create jobs.
The Spee-Dee difference
Seven to nine employees work on the baking line at PacMoore. Although it produces about 90 boxes a minute, the line could be sped up with further automation – something the company is considering in the near future, company officials say.
One of the reasons why PacMoore selects Spee-Dee for its filling machines is the ability to test the mix in real-life production runs in Spee-Dee’s testing lab at its Sturtevant, Wis., facility.
“What’s important to us is being able to send product to Spee-Dee’s lab and get the tooling picked out,” says Dan Piller, head of engineering, PacMoore. “I find value in getting that test back to show what our standard deviation is. We have to sell a job and negotiate with a customer what the tolerances are and what the weights are, and without having a standard deviation on a new production, you’re just shooting in the dark.
“Sometimes you have issues where our customer wants a tighter tolerance than what we can achieve, and you have to educate them. Without the data, that’s hard to do. But when you come back with the data and a graph and you know what your standard deviation is, then you can talk.”