GEA Beats Deadline to Install Cargill Poultry Lines in PRC
GEA Food Solutions has delivered, installed and commissioned two 1,000mm-wide processing lines for the new Cargill integrated poultry operation in Lai’an, Anhui province, China, in just nine months – eight weeks ahead of schedule.
Cargill recently delivered its first shipment of chicken nuggets from one of the lines to McDonald’s China, helping satisfy a sudden and unexpected increase in demand from the world’s leading quick service restaurant chain. The first line processes chicken nuggets at a rate of 30 tons per day, while the second line is dedicated to boneless and bone-in poultry products.
Christopher Langholz, president of the Cargill Animal Protein China business unit, commented: “This operation is strategically important to us, meaning the timing was critical. So when an opportunity arose to start supplying McDonald’s earlier than originally planned, we appreciated GEA’s commitment and ability to move things forward by eight weeks.”
The lines represent a EUR 10 million order for Bakel, Holland-based GEA Food Solutions, which worked closely with Bochum, Germany-headquartered GEA Refrigeration Technology for the deep freezing and cooling part of the project (worth an additional EUR 7 million). Installation in such a short time frame required working closely with partners, among them Dutch logistics and rigging specialist Convoy of Eindhoven, and fellow Dutch integrated packaging solutions provider Hellings Machinebouw of Sint Oedenrode, which handled the transport belt automation around GEA SmartPacker vertical packaging machines.
“Unusually for a project of this size, the customer also asked us to organize and oversee lifting the equipment into place (rigging) and to install utilities,” said Christian van Grinsven, project leader. “This involved using local contractors, who were carefully selected with the help of our Chinese sales and customer support personnel. Local GEA people were also vital for overcoming language issues.”
The project manager for GEA Food Solutions, Mikhail Volynkin, added: “China is an important region for both GEA and Cargill, and the success of this project has strengthened the long-standing relationship between our two companies. GEA Food Solutions has built up experience in many different countries already. By using the experience gained in Europe, Russia and similar projects in Thailand, we were able to shave eight weeks off the original deadline.”
Discussions with GEA for the processing lines started in late 2012, and on-site installation began in January of 2014. Nine months later, the first kilogram of nuggets was produced, and the line is now capable of running at an even higher capacity than originally specified. The project covers the full scope of GEA Food Solutions’ equipment, including preparation, marination, processing, freezing and packaging machines. Line one features partial frying (‘par fry’) for nugget production, while line two has a GEA spiral oven for various fully cooked poultry parts.
Cargill officially inaugurated its world-class vertically integrated poultry operation in China during September of 2013. The project covers each stage of the poultry supply chain, including chicken breeding, raising, feed production, hatching, slaughtering and processing. The facility has enough capacity to process as many as 65 million chickens per year, as well as 176,000 metric tons of poultry products annually, and is part of Cargill’s support for the modernization of agriculture and food safety in China.
Founded in 1865 and headquartered in Wayzata, Minnesota, USA, Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. The privately held company employs 139,000 people in 65 countries. Its business in the PRC dates back to the early 1970s, and today Cargill is present in virtually every part of mainland China with 52 locations and over 9,000 employees. The Lai’an project, which was initiated in 2009 on a green field site, is expected to employ approximately 4,000 people in the coming years.