What do you do when trail mix fruit is sticking to the chutes and trays of your packaging machine? Extreme Coating Solutions worked with one of our clients recently for a coating solution that fixes this problem.
The chutes and trays I’m talking about come from the manufacturers as non-coated, stainless-steel. However, the fruit in the trail mix eventually starts to stick to the stainless steel during packaging. This changes the “mix” of nuts, fruit, etc. as well as the weight of the packaging. During quality control, these bags get rejected, resulting in wasted product. (Not to mention the downtime for cleanup.)
Ultimately, our solution is an FDA compliant, ceramic reinforced Teflon that coats the interior of the trays and chutes which reduces friction and allows for the fruit to stop sticking. The coating choice was influenced by the fact that the almonds in the trail mix are particularly abrasive. Our solution to the problem resulted in faster production because we reduced downtime for cleanup!
Getting the parts to us for coating
The trail mix chutes and trays are extremely expensive to replace. The machine that they’re installed on weighs and dispenses product at the same time. And they can’t ship the parts with a general carrier. With the customer being 125+ miles from our facility, shipping via local courier isn’t the best option either.
The only answer was a creative shipping arrangement. This usually involves someone from their facility dropping the parts off at the home of a sales rep or a meet-and-drop somewhere near Kansas City.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, a scheduled shut-down was the perfect opportunity for replacement of the chutes and trays. But a shortage of people due to vacation time meant a quick turnaround was required. The turnaround was the easy part. We were then left with the dilemma of how to get the chutes to the customer in a timely manner as they didn’t have anyone available to pick them up.
In an effort to quickly and safely deliver the much-needed trays to the customer, one of our coaters packed up and personally delivered the trays directly to the customer. Three days later, I took another round of finished chutes to our customer.
It’s a good thing to get out and physically visit the customer. It’s perfect for discovering what we’re doing right and what we could be doing better. The trip was worth it because the personal tour I was given was fascinating! I was able to see what we do to improve the performance of their equipment and manufacturing processes. Watching the packaging of the trail mix was informative and, in this case, delicious!