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FoodTech Report

Volume 7 Issue 3

Line audits help production
line run at full potential


An air balance issue. An occasional product jam. An upside-down belt. A production line may appear to be running efficiently, but taking a closer look at equipment and processes can uncover minor issues that have larger, costly impacts.

Processors often invest time and money for third-party consultants to visit a plant location, observe operations and pinpoint specific opportunities for improvement. At no additional cost to customers, JBT FoodTech equipment specialists and food experts conduct detailed line audits and tailor recommendations based on individual needs. The audits are part of Comprehensive Courtesy Visits, a program available to any processor with multiple JBT FoodTech installations, where engineers and technicians have a better opportunity to make an impact.

“Processors know how to operate their equipment, but many want the opportunity to enhance a production line so it runs at its full potential,” says Charlie Rogers, director of customer service for the aftermarket services group of JBT FoodTech.

But changes don’t necessarily have to be very drastic to make a positive impact. Production line enhancements can come from training equipment operators, updating standard operating procedures, adjusting equipment settings or installing equipment upgrade kits. These enhancements can lead to increased equipment capacity and uptime, decreased product loss and waste, and an overall improved recipe yield.

A 360-degree view

A team of service technicians and application engineers who specialize in the appropriate equipment and market segment may spend up to 24 hours at a processor location to audit every aspect of the operation. After monitoring start-up, shift changes, shutdown, maintenance, hygiene and sanitation, the team provides a written report with recommendations for improvement.


“Some processors are looking for help on running a specific recipe, while others are looking for a training opportunity,” Rogers says. “In every case, we have provided recommendations for optimizing processes, and processors have managed to improve production yield by implementing those recommendations.”

For a poultry processor, one courtesy visit reduced product rejects from 3 percent to 1 percent of its production by adjusting particular processing speed settings in the coating equipment and fryer. Another appetizers processor eliminated product jams in the fryer by increasing the belt speed in the processing line and correcting low hydraulic pressure.

Many improvement recommendations require the processors to execute tasks themselves, such as updating standard operating procedures, improving maintenance practices and optimizing the line setup. JBT FoodTech can help them to execute other recommendations, such as installing retrofits, providing employee training or providing service agreements in which JBT FoodTech technicians regularly inspect equipment to ensure it is in the best operating order.

“JBT FoodTech product line managers, application engineers and service technicians have extensive knowledge on the products that processors run,” Rogers says. “Our teams have many years of combined experience with the processing line from front to back, from placing products on the line to working with finished product in the pack out area.”

Top-down approach

Ultimately, physical updates and upgrades to equipment on the line will never be fully optimized without a commitment from every worker, particularly equipment operators and senior managers. With every line audit, JBT FoodTech teams interact with maintenance, production and sanitation managers, as well as top-level managers.

“In many cases, our line audits identify eye-openers — operators and managers never realized there was even a problem,” Rogers says. “During one courtesy visit, the audit team brought to one processor’s attention that freezer sanitation could be shortened from six hours to four hours, adding two more hours of production to the processor’s yield.”

In another instance, JBT FoodTech specialists found that a Freezer Air Defrost Kit was not properly cleaning the freezer coil. Correcting this problem resulted in a 20 percent improvement in coil capacity.

Whether it is for continuous improvement or adapting to rising energy and raw materials costs, assessing and optimizing operations can be crucial components in improving the bottom line.

To learn more about JBT FoodTech aftermarket services, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site.

©2009 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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