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Imagine a Day without Water: Water as a Tool in Manufacturing

In addition to the obvious usage of water in the food manufacturing industry — as an ingredient, cleanser, etc. — water serves as a fundamental tool to transport and protect products throughout the manufacturing process. SSR has a longstanding relationship with a global food processing client which includes the recent design of a new processing line for an existing facility in California. David Cooper, PMP, project manager of the design, said one creative way the facility uses water is in its tomato processing lines for products such as tomato sauce, paste, or Rotel®. As soft, vulnerable produce, tomatoes are easily damaged and punctured when handled by traditional mechanical equipment. Once transported to the plant the trailers of tomatoes are filled with water and deposited into troughs where the current moves the produce along like a conveyor belt, diverting the tomatoes into the correct line to be processed. The water is drained before the tomatoes are manufactured, allowing for smooth production with undamaged ingredients.

Instead of discarding the water in these troughs, it is captured and reused in the plant for other needs. Some of this water may be diluted and used for cleaning the manufacturing equipment. Due to the high acidity of tomatoes, the cleaning water cannot be sent to the water treatment plant as is. Adding the transport water dilutes it enough to be reprocessed and reused. In an industrial setting where advanced machinery is potentially dangerous to fragile products, the creative use of water ensures a smooth manufacturing process and a fresher final product.