Business Overview:

The subject of this case study is one of the largest cocoa processor and ingredient chocolate suppliers in North America. With strategically located manufacturing facilities in North America, the company provides comprehensive business solutions for domestic and international customers of all sizes in the confectionery, baking and dairy industries. The company’s core competencies are cocoa bean processing, chocolate manufacturing, commodity risk management, and product and process research and development.

The Challenge:

Already utilizing many Prater Rota-Sieves, the chocolate company again approached Prater to address a new cocoa processing need for their plant. They had acquired a new customer who required specific sifting and packaging needs. For the typical client, they would fill sifted cocoa powder into 50 lb bags. Their new customer required bulk packaging of sifted cocoa into 2,000 lb bags.

Handling and packaging a large quantity of sifted cocoa created many challenges. Every time the chocolate maker needed to sift and bag for their new customer, the entire cocoa sifting system had to be reconfigured. Reconfiguring the large system was a very time and labor intensive process. An existing packaging machine had to be removed and then a pipe had to be installed below the sifter to package the sifted cocoa into supersacks on a lower floor of the facility.

Each time the system had to be altered it resulted in lost production time, excessive cocoa dust and safety issues arising from heavy portions of the system needing to be moved via forklift. Because the supersack filling process was not a custom design, a substantial amount of the valuable cocoa dust would spill during the bagging process. Weighing and handling of the larger bags also created their own additional issues.

The Solution:

After meeting with Prater Regional Sales Manager, Darrell Malczewski, it was determined that the system would need to be reconfigured permanently to optimize the production line. As a result, Prater provided the chocolate maker with a PAV-8 Airlock, an RS-91 Rotary Sifter and automated controls in a system-wide upgrade including a separate dual bulk bag filling station. This integrated solution was designed and installed by Prater.

The Results:

The new system upgrades allowed the chocolate maker to streamline their production process by integrating two separate sifting systems and two automated bulk bagging stations. Having both stations increased the quantity of sifted cocoa powder the plant could produce and bag simultaneously accommodating all of their customer’s needs in a safe and dust-free environment. The plant also increased its profitability due to fewer man hours and eliminating clean-up from product loss during the bagging operation. The cocoa production line now operates at maximum efficiency with no downtime.


Darrell Malczewski is a Regional Sales Manager for Prater Industries. Darrell has worked for the company since 1998 in several capacities, including field service, customer service and as Airlock Product Manager.

At Prater, results come first. Prater has been providing reliable particle management solutions since 1925. The company specializes in an extensive line of equipment and engineered systems including rotary airlocks, lump breakers, hammermills, fine grinders, classifier mills, air classifiers, compactors, plant-wide automation as well as toll processing.