In 2010, The Gluten Free Bar (GFB) led the gluten-free industry with the introduction of its first product, a good-tasting, good-for-your, gluten-free protein bar. Created by brothers Marshall and Elliott Rader, the GFB’s signature product began as a completely handmade recipe. As delicious as it was popular, the GFB was soon being ordered in large quantities by multi-store grocers.
In order for production to maintain pace with expanding retail sales, the GFB’s owners needed to begin automating the company’s bar production. While their chief concern was quality, they needed a solution that would allow them to stop hand-forming their bars, which they were still portioning using rolling pins and steel pans.
In scaling up, the GFB faced two additional challenges. While they were a growing company, they had not yet hired engineering or maintenance staff, so they needed a partner that could support their equipment purchase long-term. They also were confined by specific space and resource requirements that would restrict the type of equipment they could invest in.
Like many customers, Marshall contacted Egan Food Technologies knowing that his company was ready to automate, but unsure of the exact equipment that would fit the GFB’s production needs.
The first step in equipment development was to test the GFB’s recipe on Egan Food Technologies’ lab extruder. This allowed the company’s engineers to examine weight control, viscosity and other production considerations. After confirming that the bar recipe was ideal for extruding, Egan Food Technologies began designing custom equipment that would best fit the GFB’s process needs.
The bars required cooling prior to packaging, but a processing line that included a cooling tunnel didn’t fit the footprint of the production facility. Instead, Egan Food Technologies engineered a solution that would allow GFB to continue “racking” their bars for cooling. They added a simple retract conveyor to the end of the extruding line that placed the portioned bars right into steel pans. This eliminated the cumbersome step of using rolling pins to portion the bars, and the bars could cool in pans overnight prior to final packaging.
Prior to automating, the GFB produced roughly 400 to 500 lbs of product daily. With new equipment in place, the GFB was able to fulfill the production requirements of current customers and expand its distribution to others. Today, daily production can be as high as 15,000 lbs of product.
With strong support and service in place from Egan Food Technologies, The Gluten Free Bar has gone on to purchase additional equipment from the company in order to further expand its production capabilities.
Watch to hear Marshall Rader, President of The Gluten Free Bar describe his experience working with Egan Food Technologies.
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