More Than Gourmet Soup and Sauces Facility Expansion

Akron, Ohio

Complex strategy implmented for process capacity improvements while maintaining operations

Project Highlights

  • Complex process design for upgrades to existing as well as installing of new vessels, pumps, and piping
  • Significant upgrades to utility systems
  • Food safety and process improvements

10,000

sf addition

14

processing vessels

2x

production capacity increase

Phased Approach to Project Implementation

More Than Gourmet first came to FPE to help determine the operational growth opportunity in their current facility. After a series of evaluations on their kettle operations, it was concluded that the system was at capacity, and only minor to moderate changes could be made to increase the throughput in its current state. With larger goals in mind, More Than Gourmet requested our help in doubling production capacity in their limited space. While maintaining production, the company needed to install new high-pressure kettles, extraction vessels, and concentration vessels. Along with these tasks, More Than Gourmet needed to relocate pasteurizing, filling and packaging operations in the current space and construct a facility addition for additional packaging, laboratory, and storage space.

Thus, the challenge of this project was developing a phased approach to minimize disruption to current operations. Complete understanding of the operation was necessary as we collaborated with More Than Gourmet’s team to time everything from the installation of equipment to construction milestones.   

The first challenge our team faced was the location for a new building addition. Due to site and property restrictions, the only option available was to attach the addition in the location of the current shipping and receiving docks. Since it was impossible for More Than Gourmet to operate without shipping and receiving for any length of time, our team developed a solution for installing a temporary dock for use during construction activities.  

The second challenge involved plant utility systems. After performing an evaluation of the natural gas, steam, water heating, and electrical systems, it was determined that upgrades were required for some of the utility infrastructure. The steam system required the installation of a new boiler to provide additional capacity necessitated by the installation of the new pressure kettles.  

Food Plant Engineering had to carefully plan and engineer the installation of the boiler to fit into the very limited space available in the existing mechanical room. Water heating also needed to be upgraded, so a larger, skid-mounted hot water system was installed to provide for the increased CIP and production needs. The electrical distribution system needed to be enhanced as well.  In order to implement these improvements, a series of well-planned, short plant shutdowns were implemented during which necessary tie-ins to the existing infrastructure were completed.

Food Processing System Design

More Than Gourmet specializes in making bone broth, a process that requires intricate piping and specialized process equipment. Our team studied the process, reviewed the existing P&ID drawings, and determined what changes were necessary in order to accomplish their goal of doubling production capacity. This solution involved installing a second custom kettle system alongside the existing kettles. Process improvements were also needed with the existing kettle operation to integrate the two systems and allow them to function as a combined system or as two separate systems. This approach allowed for a production operation that is flexible in terms of capacity and variations in production schedules.

The existing pasteurizing operation was not ideally located for good manufacturing practices.  Prior to aseptic packaging, the product passes through an ultra-high temperature (UHT) heat exchanger. Our firm devised a plan to improve food safety by relocating the pasteurization and packaging operation to a hygienic area created in the new building addition. Also, the bag-in-box and bulk filled containers did not have on-site storage available for the finished products. FPE was able to ingrate storage into the new addition to permit More Than Gourmet to hold more product on-site in a finished goods freezer. This also allowed for the bulk package products to remain on-site to supplement the supply of products for retail cup filling operations.   

In addition to developing plans for increasing capacity, other studies were performed to understand potential operational efficiency losses. These studies were performed to find solutions to improve processing efficiency and thus prioritize capital spending. The basic production process at More Than Gourmet involves extracting nutrients from animal by-products using temperature and pressure. The protein and nutrients are released into a broth; the broth is then concentrated, stored in holding tanks, and aseptically packaged into containers. The packaging operation that involves both retail packaging as well as institutional bulk packaging was studied. The cup and bottling filling lines were not performing as originally intended and solutions were devised to increase the uptime and efficiency of the operation.

Project Management

Food Plant Engineering provided Project Management support for all aspects of this project. During the design phase, the Project Manager worked closely with the architecture and engineering team to coordinate schedules. Weekly meetings between the Project Manager and the client during this time were used to explain how More Than Gourmet’s needs and wants affected the final design of the facility.  Once the design was complete, the Project Manager worked on-site to coordinate shutdown activities and to oversee the kettle system installation during the renovation. Additionally, the Construction Manager worked on-site to keep the new building construction on schedule and coordinate cash flow. 

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