Cache Creek Foods, based in Woodland, California, has its processing centers in a 60,000 square foot production facility.
The third generation family-owned business churns out 50 million pounds of natural tree-nut based products annually, requiring constant attention detecting and eliminating any source of contamination, according to Carl Hartmangruber, plant manager.
He added it has a continuous improvement program to meet critical control points and HACCP regulations.
In the last few years, Cache Creek has installed a variety of Eriez metal detectors and magnetic separation equipment. The Cache Creek system includes two Eriez Xtreme Metal Detectors, an Xtreme Liquid Line Metal Detector and a series of ProGrade Grate Magnets, Plate Magnets and Liquid Line Trap Magnets.
Cache Creek undergoes third party audits to guarantee safety of its products and the ability to trace each ingredient and packaging material, and transportation to and from the plant. The firm is SQF 2000 certified and meets requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
Tree Nuts free of stray metal
The production facility processes more than 25 million pounds of tree nuts per year, according to Hartmangruber. The tree nuts - including almonds, cashews and hazelnuts - are conveyed through different processing lines depending upon their ultimate use. However, each line includes Eriez magnetic separation equipment for the removal of stray metal.
The milling line processes tree nuts that eventually become an ingredient in products like AlmondMilk, nutraceutical bars, non-dairy yogurts and fine desserts. The raw nuts are dispensed through a series of Eriez grate magnets which help draw out fine tramp metal.
After dry roasting, the nuts are milled into a paste form. Then, they are conveyed through Eriez ProGrade Liquid Line Trap Magnets, which further remove weakly fine ferrous contamination.
The magnetic element, consisting of a group of magnetic tubes, is arranged to cause the material flow entering the body to impinge against the tubes and filter through the magnetic field, covering the open area. The magnetic circuit is designed so the entrapped iron will have a tendency to work around and cling to the downstream side of the tubes. This action prevents iron particles from being washed off by the continuous flow of material.
The viscous product is then sent through an Eriez Xtreme Liquid Line Metal Detector to remove ferrous metals not removed by the magnet, as well as non-ferrous and 300 stainless steel metals.
When metal is detected in the product flow, a reject signal is channeled to one of the available output relays. The output relay can be used to activate a ball valve, control a visual or audio alarm, or send a signal to a programmable logic controller (PLC).
Eriez on maintaining product purity
The other processing lines—including seasoning, confectionary, oil and dry roasting lines—use a series of Eriez Plate and Grate Magnets which provide basic tramp metal removal to help protect downstream equipment.
“Eriez helped with positioning these magnets for optimum protection throughout these processing lines,” said Hartmangruber. “They also provided a pull testing service where they test all the magnets for pull strength to make sure the magnets are working at optimum efficiency.”
The Plate and Grate Magnets remove tramp iron, which left unchecked, could cause significant damage to milling grinding equipment, resulting in lost time and costly repairs. The magnetic separation equipment also prevents product contamination and improves product purity.
Hartmangruber said it is dealing with products going from field to fork, so there are many processing steps involved.
“Our nuts are picked off trees and brought into our plant for further processing. Here, you have conveyors and grinders, milling operations, and all sorts of moving parts that can increase the chance of contamination.”
Eriez manufactures and markets products through 12 facilities on six continents.
Orange University demonstrates products on-site
Hartmangruber and his crew saw demonstrations on the Eriez Magnetic Separation and Metal Detection equipment before making their selections. This was done through the Eriez Orange University Mobile Training and Education Center, a 38-foot Winnebago with equipment and resources to facilitate hands-on learning.
The set-up is tailored to food and other light industry applications and includes magnetic separators, vibratory conveyors, screeners and metal detectors, as well as a multimedia system with mobile broadband and multiple monitors, including an interactive 42″ touch screen.
Hartmangruber said the center gave the firm an opportunity to see, touch and feel the equipment and was better than looking through a computer or at a line card.
“When the vehicle came to our plant, it was not structured as a sales visit and there was no pressure to buy. Instead, it was a chance for us to see some things we have not seen before, ask questions and engage in a good dialogue with Eriez training personnel.
“I was able to get my quality control and maintenance people to talk with Eriez technicians to figure out how the equipment would work in our plant.”
Eriez launched the Orange University Mobile Training and Education Center to give customers free access to on-site training and equipment demonstrations to find solutions to their day-to-day material handling and contamination challenges.