Case Studies – Temporary Climate Solutions

Humidity puts peanut production at risk

Clint Williams Co. is one of the nation’s largest processors and exporters of peanuts. At its Oklahoma site, Clint Williams can grade, process, and store up to 18 million pounds of unshelled peanuts or 36 million pounds of shelled peanuts. From the moment the peanuts arrive at the facility to when they are exported their moisture content is highly monitored and vital to their success. When facing high levels of humidity in the summer the quality of millions of peanuts were at risk.

The peanuts arrive at the plant with a moisture content of 10% after field drying in forced hot air wagons. While warehoused at Clint Williams, the moisture content is further reduced to 7% to maximize grade rating at sale. After processing, the peanuts are kept in cold storage -38-42°F until shipped to market. During this period, Clint Williams carefully monitors the moisture content. Peanuts which become too dry lose weight and thus value at sale. Peanuts with greater than a 9% moisture content exceed grading standards and lose value, as well. Should moisture content reach 12%, the inventory becomes threatened by the likelihood of mold and mildew formation - a catastrophic occurrence!

PROBLEM

Orders were up and shipping activity had been constant during the humid summer months, allowing outside air to regularly infiltrate the plant threatening the production and quality of the peanuts. As a result, humidity readings inside the cold storage areas had climbed to 80-90% RH. Ollie Hall, CWC plant manager was alarmed.

“Our grade rating was threatened as moisture content was beginning to exceed the 9% maximum required for trading. Beyond that, increasing moisture content could very well bring with it mold and mildew formation. If the moisture content continued to climb, we would have been forced to reprocess the inventories using heat. This type of reprocessing would have kept us from shipping peanuts for three months and would have cost $800,000 to $1 million.”

The crisis was just days away. It was too late to purchase equipment in time to avert the impending disaster. However, Polygon could offer a unique solution to Ollie- emergency dehumidification services.

SOLUTION

Within the hour, plans were put in place to rush eight HC-4500 dehumidifiers to the Clint Williams site. Along with the equipment, Polygon sent experienced technicians to configure the temporary dehumidification system for optimum performance. In just days, the desiccant industrial dehumidifiers were on site and the temporary system was up and running. “Both the equipment and the Polygon people were first class,” said Ollie. “They worked quickly and left with everything running perfectly.”

Within hours of startup, readings showed that humidity levels were falling in the cold storage areas. The high volume of extremely dry air produced by the dehumidifiers was replacing the high humidity of summer inside the facility, and in turn, drawing the moisture out of the peanuts. The moisture content, which had been regained during several months of storage, would be quickly stabilized and then reduced.

Within four days after the installation, the crisis was over. The environment was stabilized, and moisture content was dropping in the peanuts. “We had calculated that the desired moisture level in the peanuts would be reached in about three to four weeks,” said the Polygon business development specialist. “That’s just about what it took, but the significant change in the conditions, achieved within a few days, was extremely important to prove to the customer just how effective the long-term use of desiccant dehumidification would be. Ollie told me that he considered the effectiveness of the Polygon equipment truly remarkable.” After the moisture content of the peanuts had returned to the desired levels, the fleet of eight rental dehumidifiers was reduced to two HC-4500s. Our equipment-controlled humidity levels in the plant, preventing moisture from again being absorbed by the peanuts.

The total cost of the equipment rental over a four-month period was $75,000. Compared to the prospect of nearly $1 million in reprocessing and significant costs associated with business delays, the rentals proved extremely cost-effective. “We will be eternally indebted to Polygon,” said Ollie Hall. “There is no doubt that without Polygon we would have had to reprocess 16 million pounds of peanuts. Polygon allowed us to ship and sell peanuts.”

RESULTS

No Business Interruption

A major business disruption was avoided. Fast-acting crews arrived promptly and built up a temporary, cost-effective system.

Preserved Product Quality

Valuable inventories of peanuts were saved, and their quality enhanced by desiccant humidity control.

An On-site Test Before Purchase

Polygon allows companies to test dehumidification solutions without capital expenditure. Whether a test or an emergency, companies get “real time” data to evaluate their long-term needs.

Flexible Configurations

Given options for reducing the equipment on-site after initial goals were met. Whether you need to expand or contract your initial configuration, we can work together.

 

By controlling humidity throughout the plant 16 million pounds of peanuts were saved.

"There is no doubt that without Polygon we would have had to reprocess 16 million pounds of peanuts."

Ollie Hall, Plant Manager, Clint Williams Co.

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