A typical tomato processing season in California lasts just 120 days. From roughly July to October, tomatoes grown earlier in the summer are harvested, processed, and canned.
California supplies over 90% of the processed tomatoes in the United States and the supply needs to last an entire year. With such relatively little time to accomplish this, production equipment must operate constantly, 24 hours per day, seven days a week. Any interruption in the process can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time.
Two Processes, Two Different Challenges
A large tomato processor was having difficulty with their positive displacement pumps lasting the entire 120-day season without wearing out. Even with spare pumps at the ready, any downtime is lost time and money. The pump wear came in two forms: abrasion from seeds and differential pressure within the pumps.
Tomato Paste: A crucial step in processing tomato paste is moving the paste from the flash cooler to the fillers. Because of their typically gentle and efficient product handling, positive displacement pumps are used to move the paste.
To combat the wear, the processor replaced their previous pumps with Fristam FKL 600 pumps. At 2.24 gallons per revolution, they could displace 3 times the tomato paste at the same speed as the previously installed pump. This allowed the processor to slow down the pumping speed dramatically from 180 RPM to 60 RPM. Slower rotation means less damage to the pump from stress and a gentler flow for better product integrity. Also, the FKL 600 is rated for 300 PSI, 50% higher pressure than the previous pump that was reaching its stress limit.
Diced Tomato: As tomatoes are unloaded from the fields, they are immediately diced, processed, and sent to canning. Because of the need to move solid pieces of fruit, positive displacement pumps are used to move the diced tomato.
The issue here was not the pressure, but internal pump wear from the abrasive seeds. Likewise, a reduction in pumping speed was the fix. By installing an FKL 580 (1.82 gpm), the flow could be slowed. Along with the tight clearance and efficiency inside the FKL, the processor was able to gently pump the diced tomato.
100% Process Time
The previous pumps needed to be completely rebuilt at the end of each season for roughly 2/3rds the cost of a new pump. Worse yet, sometimes the pumps did not even make it through the season, forcing the processor to keep a spare pump on-hand. Costs were adding up. Downtime was costing the company money.
The Fristam FKL helped the processor make it through the entire season with no pump-related downtime. The FKL pumps handled the abrasive product and high pressures with ease.
At the end of the season, instead of rebuilding their previous pumps at roughly $20,000 (paste) and $35,000 (diced) each, the processor simply performed a routine seal change on the new FKL’s.
Beyond rebuild costs, downtime costs can be astronomical in a limited time process. Fristam’s FKL saves time and money, and the peace of mind is immeasurable.
Excessive pump wear and maintenance costs are concerns in many food processes. Contact Fristam today to discuss your application 1-800-841-5001.