The internet source for discussion and knowledge on pasteurization equipment, technology, and equipment selection for flash pasteurization, tunnel pasteurization, and used pasteurizers.

Test Lettuce and Produce for E. Coli

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The MicroMagic device is smaller than a two liter bottle. It samples for for E. coli and provides results in hours as opposed to days . B2P says it will launch additional tests next year for listeria, salmonella and other bacteria. The technology will be a game changer for early detection systems in food safety. We stumbled across this in Popular Science Magazine. You can visit the manufacturer at  B2P.

Pasteurized Wine at Home

Monday, November 29, 2010

It has become extraordinarily difficult to find pasteurized wine. The high alcohol content combined with excellent filtering processes, sterility in the winery, and the general acceptance that wine must be sheltered from heat and sunlight and stored under certain conditions have allowed the wine industry to avoid pasteurization. As it is a thermal process wine is more susceptible to changes in flavor due the temperature than other beverages. Its common knowledge that the wine industry is highly competitive when it comes to flavor.

Pasteurization is a process of time and temperature originally created for use with wine. Pasteurization in this article is outlined based on two levels which are considered "high PU" and "low PU" depending on the purpose of the pasteurization. Low PU is intended to stop fermentation and neutralize any bacteria which may have been picked up in the wine making process. High PU is for use if the wine is needed for medical purposes (i.e. consumption by persons with weakened immune systems, cautionary pregnancy, etc).

Contrary to popular belief, Kosher wine is not pasteurized. It is made from pasteurized grape juice but fermented and subject to contamination after the fact.

The process outlined here is for a 750ml bottle of red or white wine. The pasteurization time varies depending on the water temperature being used. This process can be executed in a sink or any bath of water. The water temperature can be determined by running hot water over the end of a thermometer for 2 - 3 minutes. As can be seen by the pictures part of the process is to keep water flowing at all times. New water needs to be injected into the bottom of the bath allowing the water to overflow out the top. Other techniques (such as cracking the drain) work although sometimes difficult to ensure that the loss of water through the drain is the same as the water being put into the process. This leads to issues with level.

The immersion time for the product depends on several factors:
  • The water temperature being used for the pasteurization process
  • The starting temperature of the wine (in this case room temp or refrigerated)
  • The size of the bottle (in this case the bottles are 750ml red or white table wine)
  • The determination of pasteurization to high or low PU levels
The chart below outlines the required time for immersion to achieve the pasteurization goal.  Remember that sudden changes in temperature can cause glass to crack. Remember to be gentle with temperature changes upward or downward to give the glass time to adjust. When the pasteurization process is complete, use the cold water to bring the bath temperature down. Cooling the bottle as quickly as possible will minimize flavor impact. To judge the impact to the flavor, consider using two bottles of the same product, pasteurizing one bottle and leaving the other as a control group.

Click on the chart to blow up to full size. Also note that you will not need a thermometer in the wine bottle as shown in these pictures. Corks have been known to lift in this process and a screw cap may be advantageous.

Egg Recall, Pasteurization, and Raw Milk

Monday, November 1, 2010

Are eggs pasteurized? Short answer is no if you are cracking the egg on the skillet. Shell eggs come straight from the hen. In liquid form "Egg Beaters" and other forms of liquid eggs can be put through the same pasteurization process as milk.  

There are important lessons from eggs that can be learned regarding raw milk. The recent egg recall is an example of what could happen with the public supply of milk. Eggs (like raw milk) are collected from multitudes of farms and shipped to and packaged at co-ops. From there they are spread through central distribution networks. While higher in nutritional value raw milk is at risk of carrying food borne illness. The thermal treatment of pasteurization followed by refrigeration greatly reduces this risk removes and makes it safe for distribution over wider areas even if there was contamination. No one has ever made the statement that all raw milk carries food borne illness - nor do eggs. Pasteurization simply reduces this risk down to the level that it would be neutralized and digestible if harmful bacteria were to habitate in either.

Raw eggs are "unprotected" until recently. Look for the eggs with a P in circle. This denotes one of the few pasteurized eggs on the market. Locate a store with pasteurized eggs by clicking this link. Unpasteurized eggs do not pose a threat if they are seriously cooked. Pasteurized eggs are particularly recommended for infants, senior citizens, and pregnant women - the three classifications that run the most risk from the impacts of salmonella. The USDA fact sheet on salmonella can be located here. If like your eggs runny (particularly if your pregnant) and / or put raw eggs into other formats (like Caesar dressing) consider pasteurized eggs.

Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized Milk - Weighing in on the Pro's and Con's

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Publicity abounds on the raging battle between pasteurized and raw  milk. Could this be a case where perhaps everyone is right? Looking at this objectively we have to visit back to the roots of pasteurization.

Sterilization is defined as killing everything harmful in consumable product. Sterilization is the safest approach of keeping harmful bacteria away from you. Bear in mind, this also keeps good bacteria away from you and the amount of heat required for Sterilization reduces nutritional content and breaks down proteins and other desirable elements in the food. You could associate this with boiling water for a long duration of time to kill bacteria. The bugs are eliminated, but at a flavor and nutritional detriment.
    Pasteurization is defined as reducing the count of harmful bacterial to a range considered safe for consumption and production but stopping short of sterilization. Thus the intent of pasteurization has always been to create a compromise between flavor, nutritional value, food safety, and shelf stability.

    Watching the argument rage over pasteurized and raw milk, it would seem all involved are have valid and valued arguments. Raw milk is not always safe to consume and can carry e-coli and listeria - and raw milk clearly woudl have more nutrients and unbroken protein strings than pasteurized milk would have. Here you can read more about it on the FDA's website.

    In the end all forms of pasteurization are a trade off: Increase food safety by reducing the number of living organisms in the food. In thermal processes of pasteurization it is true that some nutritional value is reduced and flavor is changed.

    Raw milk should be expected to be more tightly controlled and much more expensive than even organic milk. Count on raw milk having a price at the store that far exceeds normal milk. While there are many advocates for raw milk we all need to consider that for the average American a safe, healthy, and low cost glass of milk is their first priority.

    Used Tunnel Pasteurizers Buyers Guide - Part II

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    There are opportunities which can be done for relatively negligible expense while a used tunnel pasteurizer, or used beverage warmer, or tunnel cooler is being relocated and re-installed.

    This is a list of great opportunities for improvements on the used pasteurizer, used tunnel warmer, or used tunnel coolers to consider. The payback on any modification is less challenged when the machine is already disassembled - in many cases little more than the cost of the components.  After a machine is installed and running, payback opportunities diminish (or go away entirely) for many of the following.

    1. Belt / Shafts / Bearings / Chevron Bed
    2. Full Regeneration
    3. PU / Process Control improvements & Limitations
    4. Instrumentation 
    5. Valve Standardization and Replacement
    6. Single Deck Sprays (eliminating sprays on two decks)
    7. Spray Density
    8. Over spray Correction
    9. Condensate Recovery
    10. I/C Wedge for non-round bottles
    11. Insulated Top and Side Covers
    12. Insulation of Steam / Hotwater / Coldwater Lines
    13. Chemical Dosing System Upgrades
    14. Cooling Tower
    15. Utility Monitoring Package
    16. PC Based PU Monitoring
    17. Large Manholes
    18. Energy Audit
    19. Machine Rezoning
    20. Pressure Gauges and Base-lining Equipment (Basic Troubleshooting Metrics)
    21. Device Tags
    22. Electrical Drawings
    23. New Electrical Package
    24. Replacement of Chart Recorders with HMI
    25. Upgrade to PLC
    Focusing in on componentry and standardizing on instrumentation can be provide a significant benefit. The technology grows quickly in these areas and it can pay down-time dividends to address the comfort level and standardization for sensors.

    This is an expansion on the previous article on used pasteurizers which can be found here.

      Louis Pasteur & The History of Pasteurization

      Saturday, September 11, 2010

      Three Minute video covers history of pasteurization and covers pasteurization history to beer, wine, and shows argument over raw milk goes all the way back to the turn of the century. Use the search bar on the above right to look for other pasteurization data on this site.

      Journey Through a Flash Processor

      Thursday, August 12, 2010

      Use Search Bar on Upper Right to Look for Articles on Favorite Pasteurization Topics. Meanwhile, enjoy this amazing video of the trip through a flash plant.

      Tunnel & Flash Pasteurization Case Study

      Thursday, July 29, 2010

      The following study was done by a group of Students at the Siebel Institute in 2007.It is the most comprehensive study we have found to date on information comparing Tunnel and Flash Pasteurization on the internet.

      The scenario is a brewery in the Caribbean contemplating the replacement of a 30 year old tunnel pasteurizer with flash pasteurization or filtration. It is based on a production level of 150 HL/ YR and a product mix which is 95% Light Lagers and 5% Malta. The plant is attempting to determine which of three options to go forward with:
      1. Direct Replacement of the existing tunnel pasteurizer
      2. Tunnel Pasteurizer removed and replaced with sterile filtration, sterile filling, and warmer
      3. Tunnel Pasteurizer removed and replaced with Flash pasteurization and sterile filling, and warming 
      The study requested an analysis of:
      • Capital Cost
      • Operating Cost
      • QC/QA Practices
      • Process Changes
      The background of the study includes the following:
      • Importation taxes are not considered in the study
      • Personnel additions are not required for Sterile Monitoring/Filter Cleaning
      • This is a 300 BPM / 18000 BPH packaging line
      • Bottles have paper labels, and are packed into plastic crates
      • A cooling tower exists which treats pasteurizer discharge water
      • Untreated water is discharged at no cost to the brewery
      • Effluent with yeast or dissolved solids was considered as higher value as it would require effluent treatment system exists to treat any effluent additions of the project
      • Currently, the brewery filters lagers to 2µ, and does not filter Malta
      • The line fills at 34ºF
      • The study does not consider any delay to market for QC administration and no impact to WIP
      • If a sterile filler is purchased, the existing filler would be sold producing a credit to the project
      • Malta would be sent from brew house to 100 bbl BBT (Bright Beer Tank)
      • Cost of spare parts and inventory adjustments are considered negligible
      Part I Capital Costs
      (Click to Enlarge Graph)Tunnel Pasteurization System Cost Elements
      1. The Tunnel Pasteurizer
      2. QC Equipment
      3. Installation
      4. Freight
      5. Service and Training
       Flash Pasteurization System Cost Elements
      1. Flash Pasteurizer
      2. Sterile Buffer Tank (application specific)
      3. Sterile Filler
      4. Clean Room
      5. Tunnel Warmer
      6. Conveyors and Conveyor Controls to Fill the Space in the line (may include accumulation table)
      7. QC Equipment to Confirm Sterilization
      8. Installation, Freight, and Service
      Filtration Cost Elements

      1. Sterile Filter Equipment
      2. Sterile Filler
      3. Clean Room
      4. Tunnel Warmer
      5. Conveyors and Conveyor Controls to Fill the Space in the line (may include accumulation table)
      6. QC Equipment to Confirm Sterilization
      7. Installation, Freight, and Service
      The team executing the study noted that the analysis is more complex than the cost of the pasteurization equipment. In the end an operation faced with the decision of Tunnel or Flash would need to consider:
      • Is the line cold filling? If so, to bring the product temperature up after filling for packaging requires a warmer is in the operation. This is a significant point in both capital and operating cost. The warmer represents the "non regenerative" (most expensive) portion of the tunnel pasteurizer. The need for a warmer significantly tips the scale on if there will be "savings" on Capital, Operating Costs (including utilities) and Floorspace in the comparison of the two technologies.
      • QC Analysis must be part of the plan. In the Flash scenario we need to ensure and confirm that the filling equipment, containers, and closures will reach and maintain the same state as the pasteurized product arriving to the filler. If the filling operation is not Aseptic there must be a "sanitation" program at the filler in the flash and sterile filtration program. This could have different impacts depending on the product and operation, but needs to be in the numbers. In the scenario above a new "aseptic" filler was budgeted.
      • The budget for the flash pasteurizer included a machine which had "Advanced Alarming and Controls", as well as a sterile buffer tank. Where the tunnel pasteurization process is conclusive and confirmable by use of a travelling recorder. The flash and sterile filtration scenarios require QC testing run on an ongoing basis. The conclusion of QC analysis at the time the product is filled states the condition of the environment where the product was filled. Product would also have to be tested and (in many cases) tested over time to conclude if the sterile filtration and flash processes were conclusive. The flash unit, while not as conclusive and confirmable as the tunnel pasteurization process, relies on sensors to verify the temperature of the product, and the time the product is at temperature would be verified by a time calculation based on the pump speed. The process can be confirmed by sensors and calculation, but the actual experience (in terms of time and temperature) cannot be confirmed at the same level as the tunnel pasteurizer.
      • The cost of installation for a tunnel warmer and a tunnel pasteurizer would not be far off in this case. Assuming the same utility connections, both are single deck and the "scenario" was considering this as a replacement project. In this light the cost of installing either is approximately the same, therefore, the flash unit, sterile buffer tank, and filler all create additional installation costs. If an existing tunnel pasteurizer were to be replaced, it would also require conveyor and controls to close the gap in the line in order that a smaller footprint warmer would fit.
      • A cooling tower was not considered for the warmer scenario, as treated in the assumptions that it already existed for the tunnel pasteurizer. Bear in mind if this were not a machine replacement scenario, this could bring an extra expense into a "flash + warmer" and tunnel pasteurizer scenarios equally.
      In any study of pasteurization, there must be some confirmation that the process is working to kill undesirable organisms from the product.
      •  In the Tunnel Scenario, it was considered to be the machines controls alarming in conjunction with a "traveler" (passes through the machine and records the temperature profile in the bottle) which is downloadable to a PC in the quality lab.
      • In the flash scenario it was assumed that the flash must have the same level of "sensing redundancy" and "PLC Control" as the tunnel pasteurizer. This indicates that several of the "entry level" / lower cost flash units would not be fail safe for the application.
      • It was also assumed in the flash scenario that the packaging operation must have the ability to "SWAB" and confirm the level of sanitation at the filler and capper.
      • It would also require a "hold" period following which samples could be taken of the finished product and confirmed the process was effective.As stated in a previous article, both processes are effective.
      • Properly applied, the flash will pasteurize the product to perfection. Following that the plant needs to ensure that the systems are in place that the product, containers, and closures are kept in the same state.
      The tunnel unit will pasteurize the product and container in the finished state, and is a readily "confirmable" process. It indicates that less QC "maintenance" will be required.
      Part II Comparison of Operating Costs

      Steam energy consumption was considered in total MMBTU per year. The tunnel pasteurizer was the highest, and the steam consumption from the flash unit was quoted by the manufacturer as dramatically lower. The scenarios where a warmer was required added much of the steam savings back into the plants consumption in the other two scenarios. If a warmer is needed the energy savings of the flash pasteurizer is not fully realized.
      The supriting data in this study is the comparison with filtration. The team found that the cost of filters quoted to them was higher than anticipated, indicating that sterile filtration would be the highest of all the options.
      The view on affluent is that it was (in this case) "free". The students at the brewing academy calculated that the flushing of the specified filters would be ongoing as filters were alternated to support continuous production. Based on their calculation the filtration scenario would send significant water to drain. What’s more the water would be heavy in yeast content and require treatment. The warmer was considered to have some incremental water usage. In the event of a stoppage, the flash unit would chase product out of the circuit with water, and would create both beer waste and water waste each time the filler has a meaningful stop. While the tunnel pasteurizer wastewater can be recycled and re-used through the cooling tower loop, water used for the sterile filtration and flash pasteurizer (as it is discharged with beer) would produce more water which is requires treatment.
      The reality is that a cooling tower (to cool and re-use water and avoid effluent) was left out of all three studies but would only serve useful purpose in the tunnel scenarios. In this analysis the cooling tower is existing. In installations where this is not the case (new installations vs. machine replacements) the cost of the cooling tower would need to be considered. In brief, the team concluded that, while not pleased with the amount of water consumption of the tunnel pasteurizer, the tunnel pasteurizer water was a “better water” to have to deal with as opposed to the discharge of the sterile filtration system or the flash.
      Part III Quality, Flavor and QA/QC Considerations

      Process Considerations - Malta

      •  There were concerns about the technical difficulties with the Malta Beer production in Sterile Filtration and Flash Pasteurization. Malta is thick in consistency and there would be slow filtration throughput due to high viscosity (sugar concentration) and multiple stages of filtration would be needed.
      • High sugar/protein concentrations require high PU, and the flash pasteurizer plates may be scorched/baked, reduce pasteurization capacity and allow contamination point – high maintenance cost and potential down time to the flash pasteurizer 
      QA/QC: Sanitation

      Tunnel Pasteurization
      • Minimum changes would be required for Tunnel Pasteurization
      • The whole product (beer, crown, bottle) are pasteurized which the team considered to be the ideal scenario from a bacteriological standpoint. The tunnel pasteurizer would serve as a “catch all” for any stray yeast strains, or other flavor changing organisms which may be resident in the package or product.
      • No new issues to consider
      Sterile Filtration and Flash pasteurization

      •  Sterile Filtration and Flash Pasteurization both require a “Clean room” and Aseptic Filler
      • Maintaining the Aseptic Environment with a positive pressurized (HEPA filter) clean room could be difficult to maintain
      • Sterile bottles and crowns would need to be considered for the full measure of quality in the case of the filtration and flash scenarios
      • Additional QA personnel, equipment, processes, and disciplines would be required
      • The process in the evaluation that sanitation should slip would mean downtime to the line, and product that is put on QC hold while it is examined and (depending on the situation) placed on QC hold. This could be disruptive to the overall operations of the brewery.
       QA/QC: Flavor
      • Whenever there are changes in process, changes in flavor should be considered / controlled
      • Sterile Filtration may strip flavors and large proteins below the 2µ level. This would be lesser of an issue for the Light Lager production, but would affect thicker products.
      • Sensory tests need to be conducted, but it is anticipated that there may be less flavor impact at time of departure from the brewery using flash and sterile filtration as the product has been exposed to less heat treatment than in tunnel. Considering that the distribution of the product is often non refreigerated after the product leaves the brewery, this was considered to be less of an issue.
      Part IV Floorspace

      The team concluded that the entrance of the warmer into the packaging line was a major factor in the amount of floor space required. Floorspace Scenarios:
      1. Pasteurizer, including infeed and discharge conveyor
      2. Flash Pasteurizer + Sterile Buffer Tanks + Warmer + Clean Room Footprint
      3. (2) Filters for alternating during production + Buffer Tanks + Warmer + Clean Room Footprint
      The team concluded that while there may be some slight savings depending on the final pieces of equipment specified, the initial dramatic savings on floorspace that they had anticipated was not going to be realized. It was also noted that scenarios (2) and (3) have utilize a balance of space between the process area and the packaging area, the tunnel confines all the space to the packaging area.
      Part V Conclusions

      The team concluded to purchase a replacement tunnel pasteurizer for the brewery.
      • The tunnel pasteurizer serves as a “catch all” for any bacteria that could find its way to the product at anywhere in the plant
      • The confirmation that the tunnel pasteurizer is performing the right process is readily confirmable. By using a travelling recorder it is possible to see the exact process which is happening to the beer.
      • The tunnel lightens the load on the QC department and allows QC to remain a single shift operation
      • While water usage was higher, the amount of effluent that can was recoverable was high in the situation of the tunnel pasteurizer
      • Impact on flavor in distribution is considered dramatically higher than the impact on flavor in packaging. As such the major consideration on flavor was to product product which was “consistent”, which was also thought to give strength to the tunnel pasteurizer.
      • Energy savings in terms of steam with the flash unit was offset by the warmer. The tunnel and flash pasteurizers are both energy regenerative in nature – heat put into the product on the initial part of the process is replaced at the end of the process. The Flash unit itself would perform better than the tunnel, but the addition of the warmer again offsets the savings.

      Flash Pasteurizer Design Guide

      Monday, June 28, 2010

      The title of this book is "undercover" for a flash pasteurizer design guide.

      Continuous Thermal Processing starts with the the basics of  "how much heat" for "how long" it takes to kill particular bacteria and accomplish a pasteurization or sterilization process, and really doesn't stop from there.

      Everything from flash pasteurizer P&ID diagrams to single heat exchanger and other component specification, its complete with the calculations which derive a number of equations from scratch, and goes on to quick reference tables.

      The book was based on an early version and has expanded its range by new authors in this new edition to include far more than dairy applications. Its found to be extremely thorough including later sections in heat exchanger fouling, and machine CIP.

      This book is available through Amazon.Com by clicking the link below. Note that it is a a part of the "Food Engineering Series" which are all equally as interesting.

      Continuous Thermal Processing of Foods: Pasteurization and UHT Sterilization (Food Engineering Series)

      Pasteurizer Belt Conversions

      Sunday, June 27, 2010

      Conversions from Walking Beam pasteurizers to belt generally do not cost justify until the machine structure has weakened to a point where the machines life extends by putting in belt. Even at that makes a pasteurizer conversion from walking beam to belt justify is not the bed conversion itself, but the energy improvements and other packaging improvements which can be done while you’re in the machine.
      This is an expansion on the previous articles on purchasing used pasteurizers:   Guide to Purchasing a Used Pasteurizer (Tunnel) and, Buying a New (or Used) Tunnel or Flash Pasteurizer.
       This article is slightly different – covering the great opportunities that exist when purchasing and installing a used pasteurizer, used warmer, or used cooler.
      In the process of purchasing and installing a piece of used machinery – or doing a pasteurizer bed conversion - there are innumerable opportunities which can be done for relatively negligible expense while the machine is being relocated and re-installed.
      1.      Full Regeneration – Regeneration is the number one energy saving feature on a pasteurizer and can save more than $100,000 / year. Regeneration is not to be taken lightly and should be studied and optimized.
      2.      Pasteurizer Belt, Shafts, & Bearings – These parts wear and create a significant amount of work to replace after the machine is in service. This is low hanging fruit. After the belts, Shafts, and bearings are in operation, the cost of replacement will double.
      3.      Single Deck Sprays – Access and maintenance to lower deck sprays in the pasteurizer is a challenge after installation. Eliminating lower deck sprays is a positive step that will require the speeds of the decks and other adjustments, including (effectively) re-commissioning the pasteurizer. Chances are this change will not get made after the machine is back into production.
      4.      Electrical Panels – if you can’t bring yourself to demo that panel and replace it with a new one before the machines installed – do you really believe it will happen after its fully wired? If you need it, it’s a good time to get a new electrical panel and drawing package with matching field tags.
      5.      Spray Issues – Broken nozzles, pans, and overhead overspray issues will cause the machine to chew down utilities unnecessarily.
      6.      PU / Process Control Improvements - Ensuring the process is proper and there is no overspray or communication of water between zones.
      7.      Instrumentation Standardization and Replacement – This is your chance to standardize on components that make sense in your plant.
      8.      Condensate RecoverySee Article on Condensate Recovery
      9.      I/C Wedge – great opportunity if you have no round containers on the infeed.
      10.  Insulated Top and Side Covers
      12.  Chemical Dosing System Upgrades - Crude control of dosing can cost chemical spend as well as eat away at the pasteurizers stainless steel.
      14.  Utility Monitoring Package

      Buying a (New or Used) Beverage or Brewery Pasteurizer (Tunnel or Flash)

      Wednesday, January 27, 2010

      Are you purchasing or considering the purchase of a pasteurizer? You have prices on equipment from three suppliers: The "larger" and "reputable" company has a much higher price machine - and you stand to save a significant amount by using a smaller shop that has made a number of warmers and coolers? Did you mention this to the "reputable company" and they don't seem to care? Sound familiar?

      Here's the rub: The smaller company is likley composed of a group of talented welders and designers who have created a product line based on its physical construction but not based on "thermodynamics" or "process specific" engineering. Here's what your missing:

      ENERGY MATTERS: Remember that this equipment is moving the temperature of every package produced, day in-day out. Your utility bill for adding pasteurization to a packaging line can be from $20,000 to $250,000 per year. Machines that are not "optimally" designed will simply correct the engineering deficiencies by utilizing extraordinary levels of water and steam. This is why the "big boys" don't really care about your quote from Bob's metal shop - they understand the carrying cost of having the talent on staff, and your competitors have told them with their dollars over the years that it makes sense.

      QUALITY MATTERS: No one will care how much you saved on capital costs during a product recall. There are scenarios on the packaging line - e-stop, power outage, boiler failure, air loss, stoppages, unbalanced loads through the machine, skippers, etc. which play havoc with the process. You need to rely on the process that it can handle these conditions appropriately, and many of them are difficult. In some cases, the machines are just not designed to get the right amounts of heating and cooling where needed internally to handle these situations.

      What can you do?
      1. Demand a utility monitoring system is included in the Base Price of every quote you recieve. Get data on steam and water consumption. Electrical usage generally stable on all machines. Steam and water will constitute the bulk of your utility spend, and will be variable.
      2. Ask for a utility guarantee linked to final payment. The guarantee is useless without the monitoring equipment. Be sure to qualify the requirements of water usage on "product run in", the time and energy required to "heat up" the machine from a set temperature, and the amount of steam on "run out".
      3. Ask for a quality guarantee linked to final payment. Will the supplier warrant that under all conditions your process will be held to specification? If they understand the process, they have the on-staff capabilities to model the process. This is a sign to you of the "depth" of process knowledge.
      4. Make your evaluation based on the "cost of ownership" over a period of years. For a baseline, consider the IRS depreciation length on the purchase - generally 15 years. The period for which you can ensure that equipment will be in production is an important factor. Include:
          • Spare Parts Costs
          • Belt Replacements
          • Service Visits
          • Energy Consumption
          • Chemical Usage
          • Cooling Tower
          • Cost of Cash
          • Capital Costs
          • Installation Costs
          • Installation Length (downtime)
      At the end of this exercise; if a supplier is advising against utility monitoring equipment or cannot give you a clear statement of usage and consumption of utilities - it is likely because they are not able. They do not have the capabilities to calculate the usage. This is the reason why many of the more advanced customers elect to stick with the larger more reputable companies.

      Any supplier who cannot provide a clear estimate of utility consumption - in hard numbers - should be disqualified from your equipment selection process. Your superior will understand that. By not providing those numbers on utility consumption and gaurantees on quality - that leaves your company with the risk. The big savings on your upfront purchase will likely get paid back through your utility bills over 3-6 quarters.