Denver, Colorado-based soup and sauce manufacturer Ready Foods has cut the time it takes to chill one of its core products by a third, thanks to a turnkey cooling system from HRS Heat Exchangers. The HRS solution, which is ideal for viscous materials, has enabled Ready Foods to significantly increase production of the meat marinade it supplies to a leading restaurant chain.
Ready Foods is a cook-and-chill company producing soups and sauces for restaurants and the meat industry. After receiving a large order for one of its meat marinades from a leading chain of quick-service Mexican restaurants, the company needed to increase capacity. The existing process of kettle cooking and steaming the marinade, then chilling it in 2.25kg pouches in a water cooling system for three hours, would not allow Ready Foods to meet the customer’s increased demand for 910kg bulk packs.
“We are a medium-sized company but it became clear that most of the equipment suppliers were accustomed to dealing with much larger firms than ours; their proposals were totally unsuitable for our size of operation,” admits Marco Antonio Abarca, President and Owner of Ready Foods.
HRS Heat Exchangers was able to meet all of Ready Foods’ requirements, so Ready Foods sent them two versions of marinade for testing: one very thin and a concentrated form. Changes from the client’s brief after the original HRS solution had been ordered were swiftly incorporated into a revised design, which was approved and ordered in September 2017.
HRS’ turnkey solution for Ready Foods comprises a transfer pump to move the product from the cook kettles into the balance tank; a balance tank to receive and mix both recycled and new incoming product; a BP-6 hydraulic pump to push product through the system; a pre-cooler (consisting of AS Series triple-tubes) which 11cools the product using chilled water; the final cooler, (two Unicus scraped surface heat exchangers); and finally, a three-way valve which sends product into the filler tank or back to the balance tank, depending on whether the temperature requirement is met or the filler tank is too full to receive product.
HRS also supplied auxiliary equipment, including a cleaning-in-place (CIP) system and a steam-powered hot water set to prevent freezing in the event of a production halt and heat the automated CIP program.
From a food safety point of view, the CIP system was crucial for Ready Foods. “The product is very viscous so being able to clean the scraped surface heat exchanger was vital,” explains Cameron Creech, HRS’ US Sales & Engineering Manager. “The CIP cabinet and system incorporate a centrifugal CIP pump installed alongside the BP-6 pump. This ensures the correct velocities are met, keeping the entire system clean and hygienic.”
The cooling system was commissioned in September 2018 and has been operating successfully ever since. “It used to take us three hours to chill the marinade, but we are now able to cool it in just one hour. We’ve been able to keep up with our client’s new, increased demand, even at peak times,” says Marco.
“I’m surprised by how smoothly this project has gone,” adds Greg Hefter, Ready Food’s Plant Engineer. “It normally takes a long time to integrate a system into a factory but that has not been the case. The cooling system has evened out the playing field by allowing a medium-sized company such as ourselves to compete with the larger firms. For us, this is 21st century, advanced technology and is the standard we now expect for everything we do. The HRS cooling system has set the bar for us.”