Heat and Control has evolved, expanded over 70-year history
Heat and Control was founded in 1950 for the purpose of building and servicing industrial furnaces in the burgeoning San Francisco Bay Area, where natural gas infrastructure was still in its infancy.
The five partners, led by founder Andy Caridis, saw a need not only for industrial heating, but quickly recognized a correlation between that process and circulating hot oil for cooking. By the 1960s, industrial furnaces were on their way out and Heat and Control was solely keyed in on food processing innovation.
Today, Heat and Control is a global company with factories and regional offices around the world. Its products stretch the entire processing line from weighing and sorting to cooking to packaging.
In June, Heat and Control kicked off its 70th anniversary celebration. We thought it was a good chance to chat with current president Tony Caridis, Andy’s son, on the company’s history and the food processing industry’s future.
Produce Processing: Could you share a little on the company’s early days and how it evolved?
Tony Caridis: My father and his (four) partners started out building industrial furnaces because the San Francisco Bay Area had a large heavy industrial manufacturing sector that needed all types of heat applications. Often, they were replacing burners because natural gas was just coming into the area.
In the 1960s, the heavy industrial furnace requirements were declining. Although the focus was on heavy industrial, we occasionally worked on food processing equipment. We noticed there were many similarities between heating asphalt and circulating hot oil, and we saw an opportunity to redesign fryers. Fryers at that time were just burners under a pan like a frying pan. We recognized the possibility of creating a remote source of heat that circulated hot oil into the fryer, the external heat exchanger. This allowed us to make a fryer which was just 25% the size of the typical unit. That changed our direction. By 1970, we phased out all other industrial heating applications and focused on modernizing the food industry.
PP: What have been the company’s biggest technological advancements over the years?
TC: Our first major breakthrough was the external heat exchanger to heat fryers, as we mentioned earlier. This got us interested in reducing the amount of oil in products, such as potato chips and then later to meat and poultry. We developed the MPO Multipurpose Oven. This oven allowed an operator to control the humidity so products, such as chicken tenders/chicken nuggets and hamburger patties, stay moist and tender. As we grew, we expanded into other areas other than cooking products, such as weighing and conveying.
Ishida Japan, a leader in weighing and packaging technologies, changed the packing industry forever when they introduced their computer combination weigher almost 50 years ago. Heat and Control is honored to be their partner in the Americas and is proud to have helped lead this transformation.
In the 1990s, we introduced new conveying technology with FastBack, bringing horizontal motion conveying to the food industry. We also acquired Mastermatic to expand our portfolio in coating and frying, and we still offer the widest available choices in frying technology.
Moving into the 2000s, we began our partnership with CEIA, the world’s leading metal detection manufacturer. Spray Dynamics also joined our brand family, significantly increasing our seasoning and coating capabilities.
Recently, we revolutionized the corn industry with our Masa Maker that utilizes a unique process of making fresh masa that eliminates corn simmering, soaking, and washing.
Our focus has always been on improving flow and efficiency. We are passionate about transforming production from a manual process to a continuous one, and you can see that reflected in how food production lines operate today.
PP: Aside from globalization and being able to service markets around the world, what has been the biggest change in the way business in the food industry operates?
TC: Automation of manual processes has changed the way the food industry produces its products. Because of high productivity goals and sanitation concerns, coupled with advances in technology, automation continues to expand to meet the processing requirements of food manufacturers.
PP: When it comes to talking with current or prospective clients, is there something that you continually hear from them on challenges they’re facing?
TC: Our clients need to be responsive to the market’s demand to stay competitive, and today’s consumers are interested in having more variety. With new national and regional flavors becoming popular and food allergies and environmental sustainability concerns becoming more common, the food industry is responding by offering more options. This oftentimes means shorter runs and more changeovers, so food manufacturers come to us for solutions that give them more flexibility and efficiency to respond to consumers.
Another challenge our clients face is a shortage of quality labor. For both of these concerns, our solutions integrate automation that help make the various manufacturing processes as integrated and as operator friendly as possible. For example, our controls and information solution gives a more efficient operator and plant experience. We work closely with our clients to make sure that we fully understand their concerns, timelines, and budget and create solutions that optimize the solution. And we stay in communication after the delivery and installation to keep their production lines running smoothly.
PP: Seventy years is a long time to look into the future, so let’s maybe shorten the window to the next 10-15 years: Where do you see food production moving?
TC: We expect to continue modernizing equipment solutions — expanding automation into areas that can benefit from improved quality and efficiency. This has been our focus since our founding 70 years ago, and our passion for advancing the food, non-food, and pharmaceutical industries has remained strong. From the machinery we manufacture and the customers we serve, to the process breakthroughs and the partnerships we develop, we are committed to find new approaches, to believe in bold ideas, and to put people first. That is the essence of who we are and how we lead.
Our ambition is to continue to grow and to be a trusted committed partner with our customers and the industry.
I think our current anniversary tagline best captures the essence of Heat and Control, “Looking Back. Pressing Forward. Always Innovating.” We draw from our past to bring innovative solutions for the future. The results of this process have benefited our products, our partners, and our customers and kept us on the leading edge of the industry.
— By Zeke Jennings, managing editor