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Bags of Performance

08 November 2012

Bradford-based snack foods company Seabrook Crisps recently called on Thorite to help ensure stringent quality standards are maintained

When it was discovered during a routine check that Seabrook Crisps' nitrogen production system was producing nearly five times less output than the capacity of the plant required, Seabrook decided to take action. After all, it has a prestigious reputation to protect.

It all started in 1940 when Charles Brook opened a fish-and-chip shop in Bradford, and was five years' later joined by his son who had been fighting in World War 2. That year father and son created their first bag of crisps; they later moved into a one-up, one-down terraced house, which they transformed into a factory.

In the '50s Seabrook started delivering its crisps door-to-door and later launched the UK's first crinkle-cut crisps. In 1953, at the coronation of Elizabeth II, revellers enjoyed Seabrook crisps as they celebrated. Black-and-white images of that occasion are proudly displayed on the company's website.

In 1956 Charles and Colin converted the old Allerton Liberal Club in Bradford into a new factory, and that year they supplied the crisps for the World Crisp-Eating competition held in Bradford. In 1959 the company started selling crisps from its mobile van shop and by the '60s it was selling its products 'from coast to coast'.

In 1978 Seabrook bought a site in Dunbrook Street, Bradford, and two years later opened its Princeville factory. During the late '70s Seabrook became the first crisp maker to use sunflower oil during the cooking process. In 2007 it reformulated the flavour of its crisps and removed all e-numbers, artificial flavourings and unnecessary ingredients.

One of the most important factors for crisp makers is to ensure that crisps are kept fresh and crunchy once they've been packed. This is achieved by injecting nitrogen gas in each bag, which prevents oxidation and thus potential spoilage of the crisps.

Seabrook Crisps' nitrogen production system had been installed by one of Thorite's competitors but when Thorite's engineers were asked to carry out a routine check of the system their calculations pointed to its output being nearly five times less than the capacity that the plant required.

Thorite suggested installing two Parker Maxigas 112 Nitrogen generators, each fitted with a Parker dryer and filtration unit. Seabrook Crisps gave Thorite the thumbs up, on the condition extremely tight installation and commissioning deadlines could be met.

The generators were installed and working well within the stated timeframe, enabling Seabrook Crisps to continue combining ''only the best ingredients with the latest manufacturing technology''.

"The Parker Maxigas Nitrogen Generators are streets ahead of their rivals in terms of cost and efficiency, culminating in a first class installation and back up services that are second to none!" said Tommy Brown, Seabrook Crisps' site engineering manager.

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