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Actually, no. FPSA’s Production Line Program has never consisted of making donuts but it’s a great tagline and sometimes I feel like Fred the Baker (that was his name!), getting up ever earlier to bring these projects to fruition.

Production Lines. I swear, my career over the past 7-8 years has revolved around the Production Lines that we build for Process Expo, or beginning in 2025 –  EATS (the Equipment and Technology Show for Bood & Beverage).

Sliced cheese, kibble, meatballs, summer sausage, frozen pizza, sliced bacon, deli meats, frozen cookies, pet treats, hamburger patties, and empanadas. You might say we’ve done a little of everything since the 2017 show, and our audience has appreciated it. Since the very first year we launched the program, these lines have drawn a majority of show attendees to at least one demonstration that we put on.

In the early years, we would hear from some of our friendly competitors that they too would start building lines in their shows, but it never really seemed to come together for their events. Production lines featured real ingredients and a wide variety of OEM competitors, working together to highlight the technology behind popular food products that we as consumers are buying in the supermarket every day. That’s all good. I believe what keeps other events from copying this idea is the commitment in terms of time and money. Planning for these lines takes over a year and requires the participating companies to have the right equipment available at the time of the show, which is sometimes easier said than done. Nevertheless, we continue with the concept as our customers really seem to enjoy it.

Like I said, I’ve been working on this project since late 2016 so I’m probably guilty of assuming that our customers and all FPSA members are familiar with it. I learned the hard way recently that this is not the case. One member, who actually participated in one of the lines in 2023, advised me they essentially came across this opportunity by chance. If they had found out 3-4 months earlier, they could have built another piece of equipment that was better suited for what we were trying to achieve. Those are their words, not mine. What they contributed to the line seemed to work just great from my point of view, but the comment was valid, nonetheless. In fact, it was soon echoed by another exhibiting member who would have liked to be in the lines but missed out as they learned of the lines far too late.

With this in mind, we are changing the timeline for the production lines at EATS25. Rather than focusing our work within the Councils that decide to host a line, like in previous years, we will work harder to make all members aware of what lines we are creating and the components we are looking for each line. This announcement will come after Labor Day this year so that members can plan accordingly, especially those that have never had this opportunity. This is not just about having a better process, but about attracting great technology to this project. By getting more members engaged, we are confident we can do that. Watch this space for that announcement, and in the meantime, if you want to learn more about participating in these lines, please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Andy Drennan