A lot of poultry
just a few doors
Sep 24, 2009 12:00 PM
Fieldale Farms Corporation is not just a major supplier of poultry to the nation’s leading foodservice and restaurant chains. It is the tenth-largest privately owned company in the world. This company sells hundreds of millions of dollars of its product every year across the United States and to more than 50 nations.
Its offerings include fresh, frozen, pre-cooked, and marinated whole chickens and chicken parts. The company has scores of different accounts with their own formulas for marinades, breadings, and cuts.
To handle this steady growth and high volume, Fieldale recently made a $50 million expansion to its plant in Gainesville GA. The plant now has a total production floor space of 400,000 square feet, housing seven processing lines with space to bring on more as business expands. This facility has the latest up-to-date equipment—touch screens, PLCs, and stainless steel handling lines—to enable it to keep up with demand, running 300,000 pounds of poultry a day and between 6 million and 6.5 million pounds a week.
The production flow starts with the raw meat as it comes into the plant and emerges processed and packaged through ten TKO CruiserWeight impactable dock doors—five doors at both ends of the process. The dock is kept below 55° F to maintain product quality, and trucks maintain 32° F. So minimizing the number of 8' x 10' openings is a smart strategy to minimize the risk of expensive chilled energy escaping.
But “with just 10 doors and the expectations for me to move all that product,” said plant manager Randy Williams, “the doors have to be reliable.”
This also means the doors must be available to handle the traffic and losing anyone of them to damage or downtime can cripple the process. “We have to get poultry out, and I get paid by the poundage,” said Williams. “Everything comes through these doors during our 16- to 18-hour days.”
Williams worked directly with the contractors on the renovation to ensure he got what he wanted on his dock. To demonstrate the seriousness of the problem, Williams showed them how banged up his old doors were.
“In our old operation,” recalls Williams, “we had what I called ‘beer can’ doors. They were fairly cheap, and you got what you paid for.”
He explains that the panels on those doors were flimsy and could be easily dented like a beer can by forklifts on the dock. Space was tight at the old location, collisions were common, and doors were replaced roughly every two years. Even before the doors’ demise, slight bumps could cause the doors to form gaps between their panels and the door frame, leading to energy loss.
Impactable doors ensure that these doorways are available for the steady stream of chicken and chicken products. The impactable design means that if the door is hit, productivity and energy is not lost.
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