Souderton, Pennsylvania (August 11, 2022) – Industrial equipment manufacturer CHL Systems recently partnered with premium poultry producer Bell & Evans to provide equipment and integration services for Bell & Evans’ new Organic-Certified Chicken Harvesting Facility in Fredericksburg, PA.
The new facility, which began operations in December 2021, was named the 2022 Food Plant of the Year by Food Engineering for its innovations, automations and high scores in all categories including team member welfare, animal welfare, food safety, product quality, and sustainability.
At 411,500 square feet, the new facility processes 100% of Bell & Evans chickens from harvest to shipping and serves as Bell & Evans’ new headquarters. The state-of-the-art production floor boasts many innovations which are the first of their kind in the U.S. poultry industry and is equipped with cutting-edge technology that ensures thorough food safety and promotes superior product quality while operating with unprecedented sustainability.
A key infrastructure feature of the new facility is a stainless-steel superstructure that supports a majority of the processing equipment throughout the plant. With this unique hygienic design, equipment is welded and suspended from stainless steel structural members attached to wall plates. The design minimizes the number of required floor-supported columns and results in more open floor space and an increased hygienic quotient.
The superstructure was designed, manufactured and installed by CHL Systems and was a significant undertaking, said CHL Systems General Manager Aaron Lorah. “The magnitude is approximately 140,000 square feet of coverage,” he said. Working closely with Bell & Evans and primary equipment manufacturer Marel, CHL Systems provided 100% of the infrastructure to support the production equipment throughout the facility.
Another major scope for CHL Systems was the concept development, design and delivery of a fully automated case handling system, Lorah said. The case handling system exemplifies the kind of leading-edge technology that sets Bell & Evans apart as a pioneer in the industry. The system, which delivers boxes and totes only when called upon for the actual inventory needed, automates product delivery to the end of the line and returns unused packaging products.
“What you have is an integral product handling system encompassing more than 4,000 feet of conveyance, focusing on robust automation while reducing required manpower and creating a plethora of additional available processing space on the floor,” Lorah said. “The way that we’ve been able to introduce raw material, provide safe passage for that packaged product to leave the facility, and also evacuate unused packaging material is very progressive in thinking.”
In addition to the superstructure and box handling system, CHL Systems provided production equipment, process system transfer piping, and comprehensive equipment installation and commissioning services.
CHL Systems CEO Mike Giagnacova lauded Bell & Evans’ new facility as world class. “It was an honor to be a part of Bell & Evans’ early vision and to play a part in making it a reality. What I find truly amazing is the timeline from first shovel in the ground to day one of production—some 20 months. It’s unheard of!”
Giagnacova attributed the success of the project to the strong partnerships among the Bell & Evans team and their vendors. “Bell & Evans built an environment of local partnerships which was essential to achieve an aggressive timeline,” he said. Early in the project, Bell & Evans identified several of their established vendors, with whom CHL Systems partnered to support their work on the project. “Those partnerships were phenomenal and are still active today,” Giagnacova said. “In all my years, I have never seen a project this size work so cohesively. That is a testament to Bell & Evans.”
About CHL Systems – CHL Systems designs, builds and installs automation equipment and systems that move materials, make products, and pack merchandise, enabling its customers to feed their communities and the nation. Since 1957, CHL Systems has been providing process automation equipment and services to production facilities across the country and beyond. Their experience spans a variety of industries including food and agricultural processing, protein and meat handling, pet food, baking and confectionery, and pharmaceutical.
Today, CHL Systems remains a family-owned corporation and is globally recognized by their partners for manufacturing excellence and highly skilled professionals. Their dedicated staff is driven by helping customers overcome their challenges to build the success they desire.
About Bell & Evans – Bell & Evans is a 5th generation family business and America’s oldest branded chicken company. They are the industry pioneer of all-natural Raised Without Antibiotics chicken and maintain the highest animal welfare standards in poultry. They produce 100% Raised Without Antibiotics chicken and organic-certified chicken with no commodity production. Bell & Evans chicken is sold nationally at high-end retailers and on the menus of America’s finest restaurants.