Superpremium system: mix-making, pasteurizing equipment fills ice cream maker’s needs – Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Inc – Applied Technology
Mix-making, pasteurizing equipment fills ice cream maker’s needs
Before Ben & Jerry’s installed a new Alfa-Laval mix preparation and pasteurizing system in its North Springfield, Vt., plant, tankers trucked the superpremium ice cream mix 100 miles from the company’s base in Waterbury, Vt.–a labor-intensive operation, to say the least.
“As our production needs grew, their capacity was rapidly used up. They were at a maximum,” says Bo Price, process engineer at Ben & Jerry’s. In addition, “We were totally dependent on them. If that system went down, the whole company went down. Now, if Waterbury has problems, we can turn around mix to them. We have total flexibility in our operations.”
Ben & Jerry’s considered a number of systems before deciding on G/H pumps, the Alfa-Laval H10 Snapline plate heat exchanger, SIC air valves and Allen-Bradley controls (programmed by Alfa-Laval).
Key among the decision factors was the ability of the $1-million system to handle Ben & Jerry’s highly viscous, 15.5-percent butterfat mix. “Because we have a very viscous mix, it’s hard to run through a plate heat exchanger,” says Price. “The configuration of the plates and the size of the H10 lends itself well to high viscosities.”
The H10 features a deep pressing for long run times. In addition, Alfa-Laval designed a special stream pattern with parallel flows to handle the heavy mix while minimizing pressure drops.
With the highly automated control panel, under the “Formula Set-up” option, the operator merely punches in ingredient quantities, and the cream, condensed milk, sugar, water, stabilizers and eggs (and flavoring for chocolate) are automatically added.
The system is “a lot more user-friendly than most on the market,” says Ken Bruns, vice president, Bruns Brothers Distributors. Operators who had never run such automated equipment learned how to use it in a day or so, he says.
“It’s a simple system,” says Rick Jenkins, assistant production manager, “the best I’ve ever seen.
“All ingredients are in liquid form, and that’s helped a lot. And the metering devices are pretty damn precise.”
Eggs, sugar, stabilizers and flavors are combined in the liquifier. Two cream silos and two condensed silos at 38 [degrees]F, controlled by the batching system, feed two blend tanks.
From the blend tanks, ingredients are fed to a 200-gallon balance tank. The level is controlled by a pressure diaphragm. From the balance tank, the mix proceeds through the HTST and homogenizer at 2,000 gallons per hour (The system was purchased with expansion capabilities for 3,000 gallon per hour). A dualrow valve cluster feeds one of four 10,000-gallon pasteurized silos or the plant floor with either white or chocolate pasteurized mix.
Ben & Jerry’s uses water to chase mix to the silos and blend tanks and to rinse out the lines when changing formulas. Strict North Springfield requirements on wastewater discharge allow the company to put only so much down the drain per day. The company went to the extent of holding wastewater and disposing of it on weekends–non-production days.
A state-of-the-art reclaim system now reduces BOD levels in discharged wastewater. A computer times how much water was used in the various operations and pushes the calculated water/mix dilution to reclaim tanks, assuring that no ingredients go down the drain. At the tanks, the water/mix is held, QC tested and then reintroduced to the raw ingredients.
“The system saves a lot in service charges, water used and ingredient losses, and is the ecologically sound thing to do,” says Price.
“In a couple of months, we’ve already paid for it,” says Jenkins.
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