Keep your cool

A new screw compressor helps a Texas baker from baking its products

Made with rich chocolate cream and studded with nuts, chocolate chips and turtle cheesecake topped with chocolate curls and caramel, Chocolate Eruption is just one of 182 frozen desserts manufactured by Lawler Foods Ltd. in Humble, Texas.


Key to keeping all of those pies, cheesecakes, bars and brownies at a constant 40 degrees F. on hot Texas days is a new Cool Compression Screw Compressor Unit supplied by Vilter.


The Lawler/Vilter connection dates back 15 years, when Bruce Fowler, Lawler's Plant/Engineering Manager, worked for a division of Schwans Ice Cream in the Texas region.  During his time there, Fowler increased plant capacity from 900 tons to 3,000 tons of refrigeration. "All of the compressors were Vilter," recalls Fowler.


The family-owned and operated Lawler Foods started in a small space with one employee, one mixer and a small oven.  In 1984, the company moved to a 9,600-sq.-ft. facility and has continued expanding ever since. When Fowler began working at Lawler eight years ago, the plant was equipped with compressors from other suppliers.  Most recently, when it came time to expand the plant again, Fowler turned to Vilter.


Size, horsepower and savings


"Vilter was introducing a new oil cooling concept at that time -- Cool Compression -- which we chose for three reasons," Fowler recalls. First, he explains, the VSM Single Screw Cool Compression unit is lighter than most compressors.  Since the engine room was located on the second floor of the Lawler plant, weight was no small consideration.


The second deciding factor was oil separation efficiency and low operating oil charge.  Fowler explains that competitive compressors with the same horsepower as the VSM system use 30 gallons of oil, as compared to the 7 gallons used by the latter.


In addition to oil savings, VSM Cool Compression unit runs cooler, Fowler says.  "Heat decreases the life of mechanical equipment, so getting lower discharge temperatures is important," he elaborates. According to Vilter, the Cool Compression unit is tested to operate 50 percent longer than competing compressors with the same horsepower.


Although it was primarily size, horsepower and savings that prompted Lawler to install the Cool Compression system, Fowler says Vilter's engineering expertise and customer service also figured into the final decision. "They have first-class engineers that are just a phone call away," Fowler says.


Petro-Chem Refrigeration, a local Authorized Vilter Distributor, worked with Bill Goggins, Vilter District Manager, to engineer the Cool Compression installation for the Lawler plant.  Petro-Chem and Lawler representatives flew to the Vilter plant in Cudahy, Wis., to tour the facility's manufacturing and lab operations as well as view a working demo of the Cool Compression unit.


 "Lawler's has a unique application [in that it] requires a lot of capacity in a very small footprint, which gave the competition an advantage in the past," Goggins says  "But the VSM new Cool Compression had all the features required for this expansion."


The compressors and spiral freezers work together to chill their product down to ,40 degrees F just before the desserts are sliced and packaged.  The colossal New York Cheesecakes, Chocolate Eruption, Tiramisu and Bananas Foster are then shipped to restaurants and retail outlets in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Europe, Canada and Mexico, all under the Lawler's brand name.


The VSM Cool Compression is part of the Vilter line of Single Screw Compressors.  The slides allow operation at extremely low ratios, which permits the compressors to operate more efficiently and reliably with higher suction pressures and lower ratios than other screw compressor types.


Since the dual slides operate in parallel rather than in series, the Single Screw Compressor can operate with optimum efficiency even at part-load conditions. By comparison, when screw compressor have dual slides that operate in series, one of the slides is apt to block off some of the porting behind the other slide, creating a restriction and performance penalty at part-load conditions.


Lawler's products are distributed to national restaurant chains, wholesale clubs and retail outlets.

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