For food processors, there is nothing more important than product quality. They are under constant pressure to achieve better product consistency, nutrition and taste; all while reducing cycle times.
New approaches and technologies are often needed to keep pushing the limits of those metrics. Already a global manufacturer of three-way steam heating valves, Hydro-Thermal saw an opportunity to purpose their existing technology into a more precise and easier to use package for the food processing industry. The vision for their new SilverLineTM continuous food and beverage processing system was born.
The SilverLineTM is a completely piped, 3-A and CE rated, polished stainless system designed to cook recipes exactly as specified. Their patented system instantly processes by completely mixing steam with product while delivering precise and consistent temperature control.
Hydro-Thermal knew what they needed for the heating and piping elements of their new product but asked The Industrial Controls Company, Inc. (ICC) to partner on the research and development of the controls side.
For the SilverLineTM to be successful, the controls had a tall order to fill: 10x more accuracy, intuitive to use for all operators, and seamless integration. Easier said than done? Think again.
In true collaborative partnership ICC and Hydro-Thermal worked together every step of the way. The physical design wasn’t immediately apparent at the outset of the project so extensive research and development was needed to turn this custom vision into a reality. Our staff spent months onsite at Hydro-Thermal to get to know the constraints on the new project, figure out a plan of attack, and do the actual design and programming. Sometimes the most important part of product development is asking the right questions. Our controls expertise in the R&D phase helped identify potential problems before they happened, saving everyone time and money.
While ensuring the product is exactly right is paramount, there are still deadlines to hit. After several design iterations and improvements, proving out the concept had to be done in rapid fashion to demonstrate the product to a key customer. We thrive in “need to make it happen” scenarios so we put our project management skills to the test. Designer workloads were adjusted as well as resource planning for the user interface design.
Our collaborative design partnership with Hydro-Thermal is an excellent blend of expertise. They know their equipment and industry; we know system controls! Evidence is in the way the partnership has evolved. ICC started out with the design and build of a few panels, but quickly was asked to become a true partner in managing entire design projects, serving as a single source for specialty controls and their go-to for product development, engineering and programming. Sean O’Rear, Food & Beverage Product Manager at Hydro-Thermal Corporation, sums it up best, “I have worked with ICC to visualize an innovation in the food and beverage processing industry. Hydro-Thermal has worked for over four years to build a cooking platform that solves all of the top problems in industrial kitchens. However this amazing cooker in itself is not enough. We needed to take our knowledge of how to control the cooking process, recover from processing problems, and create recipe specific processing needs, and replicate that knowledge into our system. ICC was the best partner we could have imagined to realize this feat. They helped map our process, create a solid control program and build our panels.”
That is a successful partnership in our book.