Custom Equipment Boosts Reliability

A food processor is leveraging its equipment-assembly expertise to provide dairy and other food manufacturers with customized equipment solutions.
Dependable, sanitary and built to last: These three qualities, certainly desirable attributes in any food-processing equipment, aptly describe the new FMI-BPI Series pumps and grinders.
Designed for high-volume sanitary/clean-in-place operation, the custom-made all-stainless-steel pumps and grinders are fully automated and easy to operate. What makes them truly unique, however, is the fact that they are developed and built not by an equipment manufacturer, but instead by a food processor — Beef Products Inc. (BPI), through its machinery manufacturing wing Freezing Machines Inc. (FMI).
Borne Out of Need
BPI, headquartered in Dakota Dunes, S.D., is the leading manufacturer of boneless lean beef trimmings. The company’s trimmings enhance hamburger patties, ground beef, lunchmeat, meatballs and numerous other products offered by quick-service restaurant chains; hotels, restaurant and institutional suppliers; and major packers and processors supplying the retail market.
To meet customer demand, BPI operates four state-of-the-art processing plants in South Sioux City, Neb.; Finney County, Kan.; Waterloo, Iowa; and Amarillo, Texas. The company’s 1,100 employees transform 1.2 billion pounds of fresh USDA-inspected beef trimmings into 350 million pounds of BPI Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings and 850 million pounds of edible tallow annually.
Equipment selection and maintenance long have been a concern to BPI, which aims for the highest safety standards and as little downtime as possible. For many years, however, the company found suitable equipment hard to come by.
The 1993 E. coli breakout at the Jack in the Box burger chain sparked BPI’s interest in an expanded sanitary design, says Eldon Roth, the company’s founder and president. At the same time, pump maintenance issues were eating into production uptime.
BPI began to leverage the expertise of its employees to improve existing equipment. Its first endeavor into the customized equipment world was a roller freezer.
Expanded Capabilities
Since then, BPI has greatly expanded its equipment design and assembly operations. It not only has designed and built a good portion its own process equipment, but also has created customized equipment solutions for selected users of its BPI Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Thus far, the company has supplied 28 grinders and more than 100 pumps to these customers.
The company recently unveiled a state-of-the-art assembly plant in which to assemble stainless steel pumps, grinders and other major equipment. Situated next to its Sioux City processing facility, the impressively sized assembly plant is supported by a newly constructed machine shop.
“We believe in the non-maintenance of machinery — the overbuilding of machinery so you don’t need [so much] maintenance,” Roth says.
Moreover, the company works to continuously improve its equipment to further boost reliability and to maximize food safety.
“We obsolete our own machinery,” notes Roth.
The assembly plant investment not only allows BPI to design and build the most durable, reliable stainless steel equipment for sanitary operations, says Roth, but also permits the company to perform any necessary repairs away from the processing plant floor. Most Sioux City processing equipment now can be moved into the assembly shop area for repair operations. Downtime will be reduced and/or eliminated through dual-line setups at the processing facilities.
In addition to its new equipment-assembly facility, BOI boasts state-of-the-art monitoring and control capabilities that allow key personnel to observe and troubleshoot any piece of equipment, from any plant, from any location company-wide.  
For Dairy and Beyond
BPI’s expansion into the equipment assembly arena also is good news for many manufacturers outside the meat-processing sector. Although the company began its equipment-supply business by offering customized grinders to customers that needed equipment optimized for grinding BPI Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings, the pumps and grinders also have many potential applications within the dairy, refrigerated and frozen, and other food processing industries.
Dairy processors now can take advantage of technologically enhanced, computer-interfaced equipment with greatly reduced maintenance requirements. High-sugar-content frozen products such as fruit juices are good candidates for the sturdy all-stainless equipment, as are blended foods such as cheeses and yogurts that start with a large bulk product. Tough applications such as shredded pizza cheeses, in particular, stand to benefit from the grinders’ superior reliability.
The all-stainless pumps feature the largest bearings possible to reduce bearing failures, oversized dowel pins and fasteners to decrease shaft failures, and many other technology improvements designed to maximize processing uptime, says the company. BPI team members design the grinders to work with the specific foods to be processed, under the specific processing conditions, and to interface properly with any conveyors, metal detectors and/or other equipment that might be present.
All equipment is available through either a lease or purchase option. Moreover, it comes with an expert installation team that can also set up monitoring and control capabilities. In addition, under BPI’s equipment leasing option, any spare parts are covered.
For the ultimate in service, the team is able to connect the equipment to BPI’s central control system and offer monitoring and control as a value-added service. If something goes amiss, BPI then can notify the customer to help ensure the fastest possible resolution to the problem. — Beef Products Inc., 891 Two Rivers Drive, Dakota Dunes, S.D., 57049, phone: (605) 217-8000, fax: (605) 217-8001, Web site: www.beefproducts.com