Processor Uses CAD with Relish

22 Jun, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

Innovative cucumber canner is sweet on Autodesk Inventor and Vault

To honor the arrival of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, we turn our attention to that crispy little hamburger garnish, the pickle. Lest you think no one cares about pickles, consider that Americans eat more than 2.5 billion pounds of pickles a year, which amounts to 20 billion pickles. Divvied up per person, that comes to more than nine pounds per year. But seeing as only 67% of households eat pickles, that means many people are eating more than their share. Dill pickles are tops in popularity, followed by sweet.

Pickles have also played a prominent role in world history, which is understandable because pickling is one of the earliest forms of food preservation. Military figures from Julius Caesar to Napoleon praised the benefits of pickles for pepping up their troops. During World War II, 40% of U.S. pickle production was requisitioned for military meals.

Before setting off to visit the continents that became known by his name, Amerigo Vespucci was a pickle peddler in Seville, Spain. Founding fathers George Washington and John Adams also were pickle partisans.

But pickles are not without disputation. Americans prefer pickles with bumps, while Europeans are partial to the smooth variety. It took the U.S. Supreme Court to proclaim that pickles are technically a fruit, though generally looked upon as vegetables.

What prompted this paean to the pickle, you ask? A recent press release from Autodesk gives us a peek into how pickles end up in the jar. Mt. Olive Pickle Company uses Inventor 11 to design and document the pickle-packing machinery that populates its pickle-processing plant. Mt. Olive occupies about 970,000 square feet of production, office and warehouse space positioned on 110 acres of land in North Carolina. Pickles have been Mt. Olive's bread and butter since 1926. Always an innovator, the company was the first to perfect sweet pickles made with Splenda artificial sweetener instead of sugar.

Pickle production "requires customized conveyors, washing, cutting, pasteurization and filling equipment," explains plant engineer Jimmy Carr. "We use Autodesk Inventor to route piping runs, both high-purity process lines and utility piping such as air, water and steam." The pickle producers also employ Inventor to document the machinery and facilities to help with troubleshooting.

In partnership with Inventor, Mt. Olive uses Autodesk Vault for file management and retrieval of legacy data. "[Vault] makes it much easier to track older design iterations and to reuse designs of older machines," says Carr. "The Copy Design function in Vault is of tremendous value in this endeavor."

Any way you slice it, the story of Mt. Olive Pickle Company provides a plethora of insights into pickle perfection. Nonetheless, we are left with one puzzle to ponder: Why do they call it Mt. Olive?

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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