Challenge/Solution Case Study:

Improving the Rate of Production for a Major Sugar Refiner

EFI Group’s client, a major sugar refiner located in the U.S., had an opportunity to add a new customer, but did not have sufficient granulated sugar conveying capacity to support the required increase in output from their retail packaging machines.

Not only was our client facing turning away immediate new business, but also future prospects and increased business from existing customers. In other words, without process improvements, their growth strategies were limited.

Adding to the problem was the fact that our client believed their existing bulk material handling systems were already running at maximum capacity. They did not see a way to increase packaging output without making a significant capital investment in conveying equipment.

Understanding the imperative of building capacity without a capital investment, we challenged our client’s assumption that they were already at maximum capacity by conducting an in-depth analysis of the company’s extensive network of conveying systems.

Using our client’s process flow diagrams as the basis, we performed field surveys to develop a thorough understanding of the vast network of bins and conveyors used to bring sugar from the refinery to the packaging lines. We also engaged our client’s operations team and maintenance staff to further understand the equipment’s day-to-day requirements and operating constraints.

Using OEM equipment design details, field observations (rpm and amp readings as well as visual observations), and our own team’s experience with bulk material conveying equipment, we then developed analytical models and capacity graphs depicting the current capacity of the systems conveyors and chutes.

Our analysis revealed that our client was not operating at maximum capacity as had been assumed. In fact, we were able not only identify rate-limiting equipment, but also equipment running faster than necessary.

With a simple and straightforward visual indication of system bottlenecks and waste in hand, we developed solutions that would meet two specific criteria: 1) The solution must alleviate a primary constraint; and 2) The solution must be quickly implementable by our client. This criteria ensured our client would be able to move forward with their new customer immediately and without having to make a capital investment.

Within a very short time frame, we increased packaging output by approximately 10%, which exceeded our client’s original goal, and our client had a new customer.

The specific deliverables of this project included:

  • Detailed capacity calculations and graphs depicting the capacity of the current system along with a summary of the primary bottlenecks preventing the necessary increase in production.
  • A detailed list of recommended non-capital solutions in order to achieve the increased production rates. Primarily, these included speed changes (both up and down) of existing equipment and re-design of interconnecting chutes in order to balance the capacity of each individual component.
  • Detailed design and installation support of six different interconnecting chutes.
  • Flow diagrams and a preliminary design for two new conveying systems to further reduce bottlenecks.

Since project completion, equipment reliability has remained high and our sugar refiner client has been able to continue to implement items from our recommendations list thanks to project deliverables we included to address future needs.

Clarity is vital for developing strong growth strategy. This manufacturer was willing to question whether or not they had an accurate view of their capacity and invest in an outside perspective to find out. Always, the key to achieving the next level of success is staying on top of your profitability and ahead of your growth goals.

Take a look at another potential profitability killer with fresh eyes – your cost estimating process.

We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
Previous slide
Next slide

Get Our


Go Inside Industry

Get manufacturing news, resources and updates.


We value the opportunity to talk with you about your manufacturing initiatives and how we can support you in achieving your goals. To schedule a conversation, simply fill out the form and we’ll be in touch to schedule a time that’s convenient for you.

Go Inside Industry

We periodically share manufacturing news and helpful resources. Join our list to receive our updates.

Thank you for your interest in EFI Group.

To download our Capabilities One-Sheeter, simply fill out the form: