To keep up with growing market demand for plant-based foods, and combat new alternatives hitting the shelves, our client needed to increase capacity. The challenge was to upscale and integrate the Almondmilk beverage base process at their existing facility and install it in a new 52,500 square foot addition at a different facility. The new process would increase production by 50% and be completely integrated by introducing raw almonds at the receiving end and producing an Almondmilk base packaged into drums and IBC totes. The client was concerned about being able to replicate the existing process and thus instructed Foth to “copy” the design from the existing facility. Due to obsolescence and other factors, this was not possible, so we had to investigate other options.
Ultimately, we proceeded to redesign the entire milling process.
This required close coordination and testing with key vendors and several trips to validate the new equipment would be able to replicate the existing process.
We utilized 3D Virtual Reality (VR) setups for all three design reviews allowing the entire client team and plant personnel to review the design and offer input for their specific areas of expertise. This collaboration delivered an extremely functional, accessible, safe, and functional processing system.
We were approximately 50% complete with start-up when the COVID pandemic caused us to suspend our efforts. We were able to get a portion of the line functional within days which allowed the client to utilize those specific assets. Once we were cleared to return, we achieved increased production and integration in significantly less time than the client had allowed for.
The start-up of the IBB process was completed in two phases due to the covid pandemic. The first phase allowed the client to put about 60% of the new assets into operation to produce dry roasted almonds. In contrast, the second phase brought online the milling operation to produce the Almondmilk beverage base. Both phases had vertical start-ups (VSUs) and exceeded the start-up curves and all expectations.
The client planned a 12-week ramp-up period to achieve full production rates. We were able to achieve the desired production rates almost immediately after start-up. The project manager commented, “This is the worst start-up curve I have ever seen. It is simply a vertical line!”