At a full-service poultry processing facility, there is little to no tolerance for downtime. As Maintenance Manager at Pinty’s Delicious Foods in Port Colborne, ON, Rob McCulligh is challenged continually to balance the busy plant’s production requirements with the ability to accommodate preventive maintenance and emergency repairs alike.
Quite frankly, unscheduled downtime is not considered a viable option at Pinty’s, even though the business itself revolves around a debris-creating product that is prime for clogged drains and overburdened pipes. “We bring in live birds and, when they leave here, they are ready for cooking,” says McCulligh. “We have all our processing pretty much under one roof now.” That urgency is why he has come to rely on Aqua Fast Flush Ltd.
“The crew at Aqua Fast Flush has never let us down,” says McCulligh. “Even though we’re tucked away here in Port Colborne – south of Welland on the northern shore of Lake Erie – we get excellent service from Aqua Fast Flush no matter the situation.”
Bad Break … Good Success Story
Parts of the former Port Colborne Poultry plant date back to the mid-1950s, resulting in an antiquated facility with considerable portions of aged and overburdened infrastructure. This created a recent crisis for Pinty’s … but with a successful result thanks to Aqua Fast Flush.
Hot water had burned and eventually melted a plastic underground pipe at the Port Colborne facility. The issue figuratively and literally came to the surface via a drain in a then-flooding room in an older section of the plant. “The thing in the chicken world is that they cannot just say, ‘OK, we’re not going to process birds today.’ It doesn’t work that way. The chicken farmers are all on schedules and the chickens have to be processed right then,” says Jonathan Heeg, owner of Aqua Fast Flush Ltd. “As a result, we weren’t able to get in there to do the required work until Rob was able to coordinate a weekend shutdown.”
Complicating matters for McCulligh and potentially adding stress to the already tight downtime was the unknown exact location of the break. And, sure enough, once Aqua Fast Flush was able to get access to the job and put its video camera into the pipe to find the break, the location of the problem was identified.
The buildup of grease and other debris in the pipe had reduced the passageway to the point that the camera could not proceed any further. So, Aqua Fast Flush had to remove the camera from the pipe, and vacuum out water and debris, before re-engaging the camera. This time, it traveled the additional distance to where the Aqua Fast Flush team could “see” gravel, thus indicating the proximity of the break.
There’s No Time to Waste
Following the end of plant production on a Friday, the Pinty’s team did a cleanup of the work area before handing it over to Aqua Fast Flush, recalls McCulligh. Defeating the challenge of finding and accessing the break that first night allowed the Aqua Fast Flush team to actually fix the pipe on “a down day” that had been created by McCulligh for the Saturday.
“They came in that morning, repaired the pipe, put the gravel back and were able to get it all cemented back up,” says McCulligh, “and we were able to get back up running without any lost time. They did a really good job.”
Heeg says the Pinty’s project was made even “a little more special” by the location of large water tanks and a massive vacuum pump in the vicinity of the pipe break, again in a sensitive, older part of the plant. “We had to rent specialty equipment in order to lift that pump that weighed approximately 2 tonnes,” says Heeg. “It was just one more factor that made this not your ‘standard’ job of cutting the floor and fixing the line.”
Thanks to the video inspection equipment being able to pinpoint the vicinity of the break, and Aqua Fast Flush subsequently able to facilitate the moving of the large vacuum pump, “we were able to manoeuvre around those water tanks,” says McCulligh.
Once the fix was done, the underground gravel and surface concrete were quickly replaced. Again overcoming a concern of McCulligh, enough time remained for the surface to dry and the room to be returned to form for production to resume on Monday. “We didn’t miss a minute,” he says.
From Problem Solver to Supportive Partner
In addition to extreme situations such as the pipe break, Aqua Fast Flush is called on by Pinty’s to flush pipes as part of an ongoing preventive maintenance at the Port Colborne plant. Then, there are the emergencies bound to arise for a plant dealing with poultry processing.
McCulligh cites a recent incident about a clogged drain. To try to keep production going, he quickly called Heeg, who in turn dispatched a vacuum truck and a flushing truck.
With the trucks en route, “we were actually able to remove the clog, so I didn’t need the vacuum truck after all,” says McCulligh. “Even though it was on its way, I was able to call Jonathan back and he canceled the vacuum truck. But we still had him send in the flush truck, so that we could clean that drain that night just to make sure we didn’t have issues the next day.”
McCulligh appreciated the consideration given by a trusted service provider to what was an evolving situation, if not a “fluid one.”
“The bottom line is that Aqua Fast Flush is very responsive, very flexible and very accommodating,” says McCulligh. “They have been extremely helpful to us.”
Name: Rob McCulligh
Title: Maintenance Manager
Company: Pinty’s Delicious Foods