Mix Tower Ingredient Capacity Increase

In response to surging product demand, our food client sought to expand their existing mixing capacity by adding two additional mixers to their mix tower. SSOE worked with the client to analyze ingredient supply capacity and address any deficiencies in the process.

The overall goal was to ensure enough finished mix could get to the 50-pound filling lines. Our team performed an initial mass balance with the plant on three major dry ingredients, and based on our evaluation, it was evident that four additional exterior bulk silos were required to accommodate the three ingredients.

Simultaneously, SSOE identified an immediate need for two interior use bins to fully utilize the existing mixers. With the integration of the new mixers, eight additional use bins were deemed essential. These bins would play a pivotal role in maintaining uninterrupted ingredient flow to the process.

Three pneumatic delivery lines were also engineered, with inline sifters on two of them for the delivery of products from the exterior silos to the interior use bins.

SSOE’s design also included the replacement of one existing air dryer with two new higher capacity units to supply dry air for ingredient transport and use bin head space blanketing.

An existing truck unload silo delivery system was replaced and upgraded to supply both existing and new bulk silos. A second truck unload station was added to the existing system to handle the additional capacity.

The successful implementation of the mix tower ingredient capacity increase not only met the immediate production demand, but has also positioned the client for future growth.

Retail Packaging Line Upgrades

When a food client needed to upgrade its antiquated filling and packaging equipment, they turned to SSOE for assistance. Prior to replacing 13 packaging lines and associated equipment, SSOE worked with the client to create a pilot line to test the capabilities of the new equipment and gain confidence that they could operate the new equipment effectively.

The pilot line ran for about a year, during which time our team helped the client work through any operational issues that arose. Based on what we learned during test runs, we adjusted the design and execution plan regarding how to move forward with the overall layout of the lines and equipment. The project then evolved into a multi-year plan to upgrade the company’s retail filling and packaging equipment and product supply conveyors.

There were three phases to the project and each phase had multiple steps within it. After the pilot line was installed, as phase one, phase two included the installation of a casepacker, case conveyors, and a new palletizer. The final phase, which took about two years, involved the installation of new fillers and cartoners.

SSOE developed a final layout, and then designed 3D models for each phase of the project. The layouts included the support of platforms and equipment from the roof, where possible, to minimize support legs from the floor.
Detail modeling was performed to locate equipment horizontally between the roof joists to allow product supply conveyors to run between, and not clash, with the joist members. The final design included five separate multi-filler cells.

Collaborative Project Design

SSOE recently partnered with a well-known Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to design a new manufacturing facility for agricultural products in the plant-based food industry. The overall design team was comprised of numerous entities in addition to SSOE that included multiple divisions within the OEM, as well as an architectural firm responsible for the building envelope and interior build-out.

There were six teams distributed across four countries in five different time zones. Successful execution of this project required frequent communication and close coordination.

The OEM partner is a major supplier of equipment in the process industries. They have the expertise and resources to provide the process and controls engineering. SSOE’s initial role on this project was to support the balance-of-plant design engineering, specifically the design and modeling of utility piping systems as well as the design and modeling of all the piping support structures throughout the plant. During the project, we also assumed responsibility for the design of steam, condensate, process wastewater, chilled water, potable water, and instrument air systems.

There were numerous challenges on this project that needed to be overcome by collaboration among all the design team members. One example is that the building design was already well underway when the other partners started detailed design so there were some unexpected constraints due to early assumptions regarding design criteria. Another challenge involved the mix of SI and Imperial units across the connections on equipment skids, piping system components, and in-line devices. Finally, due to supply chain issues prevalent at the time, the completion of OEM equipment skid design work was delayed which required an evolution of the project execution strategy to work around design information dependencies within the team.

Due to SSOE’s collaborative approach, attention to detail, and focus on the successful delivery of the overall project, our relationship with this OEM has been strengthened and we are well-positioned to collaborate on additional future projects.

New Process Moulding Line

When a client’s capital spending grew significantly, they needed to outsource some of their work. SSOE was a top choice when they set out to find engineering firms to manage their projects.

The first project was the installation of a new process moulding line for one of the client’s most popular candies. SSOE served as Engineer of Record for the original construction of this facility in 2009. Replacing the first production line that was installed during the original construction, this new process line has a much higher capacity and utilizes state-of-art technology to obtain improved efficiency. Project features include the moulding line, a 10,000 SF packaging mezzanine with a two-floor packaging operation, modifications to the peanut processing area and peanut butter kitchen, and additional utility infrastructure to support the operation.

What started as an FEL to confirm scope and refine the cost estimate in January 2022, quickly grew into a full, detailed design effort, then followed by a request to provide a field team to serve as the Owner’s Representative in support of the plant during construction.

One of the key components to the project’s success was the SSOE’s site team, composed of employees from SSOE’s León office, who worked with both the client and SSOE U.S.-based Subject Matter Experts, to help eliminate language and cultural barriers.

SSOE encountered challenges during the construction process. However, the team worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges and ensured the client remained satisfied. The client applauded our design and procurement processes, as well as our responsiveness and knowledge of the site. Even with delays, SSOE managed to make sure everything was delivered to the site and installed properly.

We built a partnership with the client and they viewed our field employees as an extension of their team, trusting us to drive results. This allowed the client’s engineering team to focus on other projects, saving time and money for the client. SSOE saved the client over $3 million. Of that, $2.5 million was realized in the FEL process and an additional $500,000 was saved through process improvements.

Tomato Sorting and Processing

SSOE was selected to act as the Owner’s Representative for this long-time food client on an important tomato sorting and processing project. Working closely with EC Nelson, the project’s Design-Build mechanical contractor, along with the electrical and integration contractors, SSOE provided design quality assurance and managed all aspects of the project on behalf of the client. The project was completed on schedule, in time for the seasonal arrival of tomatoes. The new electronic system sorts unpeeled tomatoes by quality and color, sending a larger percentage of high-quality tomatoes to the process lines making high-end diced tomato products, while directing the lesser-quality tomatoes to the evaporators to be made into tomato paste. The new process handles 280 tons of tomatoes per hour.

As the Owner’s Representative, we managed a multitude of moving pieces (designer, contractor, equipment manufacturers, purchasing team, project controls team) that needed to align at just the right times for successful project execution. SSOE also managed the master schedule, which included the engineering packages release timing, equipment ordering, the completion of programming, equipment testing, safety checks, and performance validations. Project team meetings were held weekly along with multiple meetings throughout the week to make sure project milestones were on track, and project status reports were delivered directly to the client’s upper management team. Additionally, we worked closely with Procurement to develop and process requisitions for purchase orders to support construction tasks as needed, while handling all administrative project-related tasks.

Key to the success of this project was our ability to be adaptable as we faced project challenges outside our control. Adjustments made included compressing the schedule when needed and sometimes having crews on-site around the clock. We utilized a combination of our Owner’s Representative and added an additional SSOE resource to shoulder the on-site night shift Construction Manager role, which ultimately reduced the schedule by a week and a half.

In March 2020, restrictions were implemented due to the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic, adding unforeseen project complications. At this time, we were tasked with providing a safe, Covid-free working environment, monitoring the ability of the client-ordered European equipment to be delivered to the U.S., and developing a solution to get key project staff located around the U.S. to the client’s site when needed. Solutions included the development of on-site safety protocols, which included mask wearing, taking temperatures, and completing health questionnaires. Most importantly, the client dedicated a several company jets to move critical resources to and from the site, including the Owner’s Representative and other key personnel. This helped ensure the project was completed in time for the July 1st arrival of tomatoes from the local farmers.

To meet the client’s deadline while completing the project safely, the roof was installed at nighttime during off-shift hours. SSOE’s on-site Owner’s Representative pulled double shifts until another SSOE resource could be brought on-site. This allowed the project to complete on time, saving the client $3,198,000.00 in production cost if all work had been limited to one shift.

Collaborative Project Design

SSOE recently partnered with a well-known Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to design a new manufacturing facility for agricultural products in the plant-based food industry. The overall design team was comprised of numerous entities in addition to SSOE that included multiple divisions within the OEM, as well as an architectural firm responsible for the building envelope and interior build-out.

There were six teams distributed across four countries in five different time zones. Successful execution of this project required frequent communication and close coordination.

The OEM partner is a major supplier of equipment in the process industries. They have the expertise and resources to provide the process and controls engineering. SSOE’s initial role on this project was to support the balance-of-plant design engineering, specifically the design and modeling of utility piping systems as well as the design and modeling of all the piping support structures throughout the plant. During the project, we also assumed responsibility for the design of steam, condensate, process wastewater, chilled water, potable water, and instrument air systems.

There were numerous challenges on this project that needed to be overcome by collaboration among all the design team members. One example is that the building design was already well underway when the other partners started detailed design so there were some unexpected constraints due to early assumptions regarding design criteria. Another challenge involved the mix of SI and Imperial units across the connections on equipment skids, piping system components, and in-line devices. Finally, due to supply chain issues prevalent at the time, the completion of OEM equipment skid design work was delayed which required an evolution of the project execution strategy to work around design information dependencies within the team.

Due to SSOE’s collaborative approach, attention to detail, and focus on the successful delivery of the overall project, our relationship with this OEM has been strengthened and we are well-positioned to collaborate on additional future projects.

Pet Food Production Capacity Expansion Lines 1 and 2

The scope of this project involved the conversion of an existing 500,000 SF pet food facility from a textile manufacturing facility to a wet pet food facility and distribution warehouse. The site, idle for nearly a decade, required extensive refurbishment, site improvements, and building modifications to make it ready for the new processes. The project included site development, construction, design, equipment procurement, installation, and start-up of two canning lines.

The initial project phase included the civil site design, with additional parking, new roadways, laydown areas for construction, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP); lighting, and a completely new medium voltage site electrical distribution system. Interior work included the definition and design of new rooms, new floor slab, industrial waste drain system, design and specification of new utilities (HVAC, boilers, compressed air, bio-filter odor control, and others), process and packaging design, and overall modeling / BIM/VDC.

Due to the complexity of the project and condensed schedule, multiple entities were engaged across a wide variety of tasks, requiring a high level of collaboration. For example, separate design / build efforts were needed for the freezer, empty can building, compactor area, wastewater treatment, and employee center. Coordination was also extensive between the multiple layers of the client’s project management and engineering disciplines. Lastly there were multiple vendor supplied “modules” (dries, meat bins, gravy, and packaging), which were integrated into the design and installation.

Tomato Product Can Conversion

We had a really great experience. Our engineer was very knowledgeable in the canning industry, which was tremendously helpful… It felt very refreshing to be dealing with an engineer who also understood food safety. That is incredible. Having our engineer with that knowledge, and understanding food in general, and more specifically canned food manufacturing, was tremendously helpful, especially because we had such a new leadership team with no food knowledge. That was great.

~Plant Quality Manager

When faced with an unexpected three-month project delay, this long-time tomato processing client understood the possibility that the SSOE Project Manager (PM) might not be available when the project was set to resume. As a result, the client elected to adjust their project plans to maintain access to our PM’s expertise by transferring him to assess a similar project at one of their Canadian plants until the original project was ready to re-start.

The client’s Director of Continuous Improvement responsible for can seaming had worked with SSOE’s PM on multiple U.S. can conversion projects two years earlier. He asked our PM to take over managing a can conversion project he was overseeing. This plant had recently contracted with a new can vendor and needed to adjust their equipment to work for the new cans. Our scope included the seaming portion of the project plus an overhaul of the canning lines, completing both in time for the tomato harvest.

The project included 12 existing filling line seamers and was completed in a two-phase approach. Phase 1 included completing nine lines in preparation for tomato harvest. Phase 2 completed the remaining three lines that were being used for re-manufactured product while Phase 1 was being completed. This approach allowed us to address any quality issues with both re-man and tomato harvest processing. The SSOE PM remained in the plant during the beginning of tomato harvest to ensure the new processes worked as designed. This alternate assignment retained SSOE’s PM and allowed the client to benefit from his expertise until it was time for him to transfer back to the original project in the U.S.

During the time spent on-site, the SSOE PM leveraged his food industry expertise and experience to identify additional opportunities for improvement with regard to food safety. The client was extremely pleased to have the extra set of eyes on their process and found our PM’s observations to be invaluable. Though this was not part of the scope of work for the can conversion project, communicating these observations and offering suggestions for ways to correct the findings solidified our relationship with the client and plant leadership.

Cereal Line Relocation and Optimization

SSOE saved the client $400,000 through the use of reality capture and the reduction in the amount of equipment needed for the project.

A food client needed to relocate its ribbon rolling lines from one facility to another due to an impending plant shutdown. Because of the variety of services we offer, SSOE was hired to provide process, mechanical, civil, structural, architectural, and controls design and engineering services, as well as project management for the relocation project. The project had to remain confidential during its initial phases, which posed a challenge. Due to this, SSOE provided flexibility during the detailed design phase, as a Front-End Loading package was not able to be fully vetted with plant staff who were unaware of the impending closure.

Using reality capture, SSOE relocated 11 roll lines and installed two new silos. The existing lines were 40 years old and no drawings were available for the existing equipment. The newly designed ribbon roll lines came in two feet longer than desired. SSOE quickly solved the issue allowing the equipment to fit in the existing space by rearranging the equipment and being part of an on-site team to review the equipment and optimize the design to fit it in the allowed space.

The project also featured a building expansion and the relocation of existing equipment to allow for more space for new equipment. The new equipment had to allow for the product to retain its gluten-free label. To do so, a new HVAC system, conveyor covers, dust filters, and a vacuum system were installed with minimum downtime. SSOE designed and installed a new bottom product bin while the existing bin was still in service. The system had to be switched over to the new bin within two days, which the team completed on schedule. SSOE used reality capture to ensure the equipment could be installed in tight locations. This use of 3D technology was new to the client.

Brewing Process Addition

SSOE delivered more than $8 million in documented project savings through our team’s focus on due diligence, in addition to its approach to pipe routing design and other process and facility modifications.

When this globally recognized beverage manufacturer began to experience sanitation and quality issues related to one of the facility’s cellars, it enlisted SSOE to provide the design of a major brewing process addition to replace it.

SSOE’s team provided complete engineering and design for site and facility modifications and additions to house the new tanks, pumps, valve arrays, CIP systems, and associated equipment. Significant piping routes and structural modifications were required to accommodate the new tanks and piping distribution systems. Project execution was carefully planned to minimize the impact of construction efforts on plant production operations, while allowing for required personnel access and material flows.

True to SSOE’s commitment to driving value into every project we deliver, our design and engineering team members were diligent in identifying and implementing cost saving measures throughout the project. The team’s focus on due diligence, in addition to its approach to pipe routing design and other process and facility modifications generated more than $8 million in client savings on this project.

Packaging Release Automation Improvements

A major beverage manufacturer was experiencing quality issues directly related to its  manual packaging release system. The existing system involved product delivery from 23 storage tanks to any of the 10 destinations consisting of packaging lines and pasteurization systems. Utilizing piping swing elbows and hoses, it required a manual set up each time a brand / type of beverage was changed. The inefficient system not only adversely affected product quality, but also created microbial issues due to excessive manual handling.

Well versed in automation technology in the food and beverage industry, SSOE was selected to design a more efficient packaging release system for the client. Our team provided the design and installation of a fully automated solution involving 12 valve matrix skids and 600 valves. The system utilizes valve manifolds to control fill and transfer operations to and from the tanks.

Installing new systems in fully operational production facilities presents a number of unique challenges. For this project, our team was faced with significant space constraints, as well as maintaining production operations throughout installation. To address the limited space between existing tanks, laser scanning was used to help define the available envelope for pump, piping, and skid installation. Valve matrices were then split up and fit into the space between the horizontal tanks. Temporary headers and piping tie-ins were employed to allow for the sequenced installation and tie-ins to each packaging line, while maintaining production on all other lines. Programming changes were made at each step to accommodate each new line as installation progressed. At the conclusion of the project, our team successfully delivered a fully automated beverage delivery system that not only eliminated the quality issues and microbial threats inherent to the manual system, but also reduced water and product waste.

Freezer Replacement

$8,674,275 in documented project savings realized through a reduction in schedule and demolition costs, as well as a number of design modifications.

Recognizing the poor condition of the existing, 50-year-old, -40 degrees F freezer, the client had a decision to make. Due to quality concerns, the client chose to replace the freezer and reached out to SSOE to provide a complete project solution.

Laser scanning was employed to capture an accurate baseline for the design. The resulting scan was then used to confirm discrepancies in the client’s 2D layout that would have been detrimental to the project if gone undetected. Next, a 3D model was developed to ensure the freezer and associated equipment would fit into the building envelope. Finally, the corrected plant layout was integrated with the freezer and conveyor layouts to perform clash detection.

SSOE’s solution involved the complete demolition of both the freezer and corresponding penthouse. As the freezer was located in the center of the plant, special considerations were taken to complete the project without disrupting operations. TuffWrap was installed to provide an airtight separation from the remainder of the plant, allowing the use of diesel equipment within an operating food plant.

Schedule concerns posed a major challenge for SSOE’s team. A study provided by the client indicated that removing the penthouse would make the project approximately 23 weeks long. As such, the client was experiencing furlough issues with employees and needed the work completed in 13 weeks. SSOE worked to compress its base schedule of 18 weeks down to 13 weeks. This was accomplished through the combination of requiring two shifts (day and night) and overtime construction. Schedule coordination was crucial to the success of this project.

Food Process Line Addition

This international pretzel client was ready to add a line to their Midwest plant. The addition of this dough making process line would allow them to increase their U.S. production and distribution, reducing their need to import product from their European plants. Newer to the U.S., this client contacted SSOE based on an employee referral. After meeting with us to review our food processing experience and to discuss our approach to their project, SSOE was selected to provide architectural and engineering services for the line addition.

The scope of work for the project included the installation of a frozen product line, from raw material mixing through dough forming, cooking, baking, and packaging. The line addition included two freezers: a purchased spiral freezer for product flash freezing prior to packaging, and an 8,500 SF SSOE designed -10 degree storage freezer for packaged product awaiting shipment. SSOE also designed the refrigeration systems for both freezers, as well as new primary electrical service to the plant and the installation of bulk material silos.

The plant, purchased from another food manufacturer a few years prior, did not have optimal space availability for the project’s needs both inside and outside of the facility. As a result, SSOE met with the City multiple times, working closely with them to obtain permit variances for the freezer and silo installations. However, because the factory was located in a high end commercial area, the City also required screen walls to mask the visibility of the silos and also required large amounts of landscaping to help it blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

Liquid Sugar Tank Replacement

“SSOE’s integration of multiple technologies was critical in allowing the Shouldice team to foresee the risk associated with the constraints of the site and was invaluable to ensure the installation schedule was met for the customer. This technology provided an advantage of enhancing safety, limiting risk, and preventing delays. I would recommend the use of this technology to our customers.”
– Randy Sample, Project Manager of Shouldice Industrial Manufacturers & Contractors, Inc.

With a continued focus on the safety and quality of its products, Post Consumer Brands (Post) sought to replace three liquid sugar tanks at its Battle Creek, Michigan facility. While the installation project appeared to be straightforward, the location of these tanks and the constraints of the site provided a unique challenge. To confront this challenge, SSOE utilized a drone and terrestrial laser scanner to accurately capture the existing site conditions to determine the best possible way to install the new stainless steel tanks.

With 3D scans of the site, the Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) team was able to simulate risks during installation. Our team used reality capture point cloud data along with software including Autodesk Civil 3D, vehicle tracking, and Google Earth, to simulate the entire construction process from shipping the tanks on-site to lifting them into position under these complex site conditions. The team utilized multiple simulations prior to installation to identify the proper route for the delivery of the tanks, which required an articulating trailer to maneuver the site. These simulations helped the crane crew determine the optimal position for the crane and see the sequencing required to safely lift the tanks while avoiding any surrounding structures. Through the use of these integrated technologies, the installation process went as planned, meeting the schedule while maintaining full plant operations throughout the project.

Complex Packaging Line Relocation & Upgrade

A well-known food manufacturer hired SSOE to design, install, and start-up the process and packaging lines for their newly upgraded facility in North Carolina to allow the production of its new brand. To accommodate an aggressive schedule, the team held an interactive planning (IAP) session at 60% design development to consider alternative methods to ensure successful delivery of this complex project—ultimately enlisting the help of SSOE Systems, our construction management division.

By using a criteria package instead of a more traditional bid document, we were able to start installation before design was completed, resulting in significant time savings. The team only had a small window of time to move the equipment and get the repurposed facility up and running. One team member provided on-site assistance at our client’s west coast facility where the equipment was removed and another in the facility in North Carolina where a combination of both repurposed and new process and packaging equipment was being installed. Moving into the installation phase the team realized many of the 2D installation drawings were incomplete and quickly decided to use the 3D model as the construction guide for installation. This minimized rework and ensured the team was working from the most current design, providing the ability to confirm dimensions in real time as equipment was being installed and maintain a high level of activity at each site to achieve our client’s tight timeframe.

On-site in North Carolina, we held daily reviews around the model with the contractors. With more than 30 different systems interacting together, a visual tool became necessary to keep the trades moving. Contractors were able to show 3D renderings to the trades below them to provide a better idea of how everything would go together. There were a couple of very specific cases with pipes at two to three different angles, making it difficult for contractors to lay out at ground level. We were able to measure spool pieces, or certain sections of the pipe, directly through the model, and the contractor fabricated to our dimensions seamlessly, which was especially beneficial on the more complicated runs.

Late in construction, a permitting issue was discovered for the process equipment. We negotiated with the county, who ultimately agreed to us running the equipment while documentation was being created for the permit as we were nearing the checkout phase of the project—and allowed equipment training without an occupancy permit.

Brownfield Site Facility Expansion for FDA Compliant Manufacturing

Phased construction to compress schedule by three months.

When American Snuff wanted to convert a recently purchased facility into new processing facilities, SSOE had the EPCM expertise needed to lead the project. With the goal to increase capacity and achieve FDA compliance, a new requirement for its product, SSOE proved key to renovating and expanding the site, largely due to its expertise serving FDA regulated industries and renovating brownfields.

Originally designed in the 1970s by SSOE, the site, previously operated by Union Carbide, produced large carbon electrodes for the steel industry. The brownfield site had been abandoned for eight years, making the conversion challenging. However, SSOE’s extensive cGMP and renovation experience allowed it to accommodate immediate and future manufacturing needs while transforming an idle general manufacturing environment to one that satisfies new FDA regulations for the industry.

SSOE’s scope of services included conceptual planning and budgeting, design, procurement, cost control, scheduling, monitoring and reporting, commissioning, and construction management services.

In an effort to achieve American Snuff’s ambitious schedule, SSOE recommended construction sequencing (phased construction with multiple primes) to compress the project construction schedule by three months. Aggressive cost management and early identification of cost trends put the project on track to be delivered within budget.

Start-up of Pilot Tomato Processing Plant

SSOE saved the client 1,000 man hours and helped to streamline activity in the plant.

When this food manufacturer built a pilot plant to develop a new method of making tomato products using a new evaporator system, they realized they were limited in the manpower they needed to master the process. With a need for additional on-site support, the food manufacturer wanted a partner that not only had expertise in design process, but had a fundamental understanding of the hands-on approach needed to learn the functionality of the system and to help ensure its success. With an alliance agreement in place, the client commissioned SSOE to manage the start-up process at the facility under a Master Service Agreement (MSA). Noted for its vast expertise in tomato-based products, SSOE’s experience runs the gamut from bulk ingredient receiving through USDA/FDA inspection, sorting, processing, filling, packaging, palletizing, and warehousing.

The pilot plant, built on an existing tomato processing site, used outdoor energy efficient evaporators that used less steam to process, at minimum, 5,000 pounds of tomato for concentrate and paste. In its role, SSOE was first charged with the oversight of day-to-day pilot plant operations, including running the process system, leading repairs, troubleshooting processing issues, as well as cleaning the system.

In its second year of on-site support, SSOE transitioned plant operations to the client’s team, training them and sharing the expertise acquired during the initial pilot plant phase. SSOE also offered input on implementing control measures and means for improving site processing. Ultimately, SSOE saved the client 1,000 man hours and helped to streamline activity in the plant.

Peanut Butter Safety Upgrade

SSOE’s expertise in process design and an in-depth knowledge of the client’s needs led to an annual operational savings $700,000 by modifying ingredient flow and production lines for a more efficient design.

During an unexpected shutdown of its production, a food manufacturing client called on SSOE, its long trusted engineering resource, to quickly improve processes and return the facility to full operation. Because every week of lost production meant lost revenue, the team was directed to fast-track the project, but not at the expense of the client’s stringent quality standards.

To complete the project, SSOE’s team repaired various system inefficiencies and redesigned the production system to enhance food safety. Several pieces of older equipment were replaced, and a process to sanitize raw ingredients separate from processed ones was incorporated. SSOE consulted on the facility design modifications.

Additionally, SSOE designed a process to sanitize the complex product piping system using hot soybean oil that would not affect the quality of the client’s product. The client took advantage of the plant shutdown and also upgraded controls to increase yields, reduce energy consumption, and incorporated a new air quality system.

At the height of the project, SSOE’s team consisted of ten onsite engineers and designers to sustain the crucial schedule.

Facility Expansion

SSOE identified more than $3 million in cost savings for this project, which represents more than half of its total fee.

American Snuff, LLC called upon SSOE to provide a project solution for their new tobacco product manufacturing, warehousing, and packaging facility in Memphis, Tennessee. As part of the conceptual design effort, SSOE accompanied American Snuff on walkthroughs of several vacant buildings being considered for the new plant. Based on our observations, SSOE recommended building what would best meet American Snuff’s needs and budget.

SSOE developed and implemented a plan to renovate and reconfigure an existing distribution center to a food grade production and packaging facility and satisfy new FDA regulations for the tobacco industry. The renovation also created spaces for various staff offices, maintenance areas, a developmental lab, a pilot plant, and a new entrance / lobby. SSOE provided structural, civil, fire protection, construction management, project planning, procurement, cost control, HVAC, electrical, commissioning, monitoring and reporting, and scheduling services. A building management system, communications, security, and information technology systems were also part of the project scope.

Environmentally friendly practices were implemented including recycling 60,000 cubic feet of concrete and 50 tons of steel, reuse of excavated soil for backfill, and implementation of LEED® certification prerequisites. Modifications to the building added daylighting and use of energy efficient materials.

Renovation, Relocation, and Expansion of Manufacturing Facility

Fast-track conversion of abandoned brownfield factory into full-fledged food manufacturing facility. Modified original site layout saving $500,000.

When Hershey embarked on the conversion of an abandoned brownfield factory into a new candy manufacturing facility in Mexico, SSOE was asked to join the design / build team that turned it into a viable production facility for its chocolate products. With a history of success on fast-track food projects, the team was able to immediately respond to the challenging project demands, which allowed for parallel design and construction.

SSOE’s scope entailed design for the addition of 300,000 SF of process and packaging space, which included nine production lines, an 85,000 SF warehouse, a new 15,000 SF cafeteria, and a new substation. SSOE also designed in-plant laboratory space and consulted with Hershey on the purchasing of utility equipment.

The original facility was not in compliance with U.S. food processing standards. SSOE provided expertise in this area throughout the facility design.

SSOE was able to provide an optimal design solution by enlisting the best labor force and working with local government and community agencies. Early bid packages for site, sewer, and foundation were issued within two-three months of project award. In the end, SSOE helped Hershey meet its ultimate goal, under budget and on schedule. What resulted was a state-of-the-art facility four times larger than its initial size meeting strict FDA standards.

Frosting Line Addition: 13-Month Schedule Completed in 10 Months

In addition to moving production forward by 3 months, SSOE utilized an innovative approach to the design of the process waste discharge system. This established a realistic peak flow number which the existing infrastructure could support. The realistic flow saved $700,000 in system cost, labor, and installation time.

When a major food manufacturer sought to add production capacity through the addition of a second Ready-to-Spread (RTS) frosting line, it looked to SSOE to provide the same high quality engineering services it had provided on the original RTS line installation more than 20 years prior. SSOE provided complete EPCM project delivery for the line, from raw ingredients to the finished product warehouse, and repurposed existing warehouse areas. The project was slated for completion in just 13 months.

As an industry leader in design technology, SSOE employed Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) to deliver a construction strategy that pulled critical path activities forward, allowing maximum time for process design.

To allow activities to occur concurrently SSOE utilized a phased construction approach. The prequalification process mandated contractors that have the ability to accept a 3D model, add detail, and trade the model back and forth. This allowed the use of the 3D model as a project delivery tool to drive a higher degree of coordination and project delivery integration.

Liquid process elements were modularized and built in fabrication shops on skids, allowing construction to take place in tandem with facility construction. Construction in this type of controlled environment leads to higher quality and is 30% faster, 30% more cost effective, and 80% safer than traditional construction methods. As the 3D model served as the basis for all reviews, no 2D skid drawings were required. Fabrication-level documents were produced for piping, skids, and structural steel in lieu of design intent documents. As a result, contractor rework and SSOE review of submittals were essentially eliminated, accelerating the schedule.

The ultimate result of this approach was a successfully executed project delivered in just 10 months within the budget allocated for a 13 month schedule. This resulted in an additional 3 months of production—-which translates to millions of dollars in revenue and profit.