World’s largest ice-cream cone manufacturer makes first move into chocolate with PTL.
When Joycone decided to add enrobed cookies to their product line, it was with PTL’s melter and enrober.
Although Joycone had been producing millions of pounds of cookie for many years, this was their first time enrobing cookies, and they wanted to invest in quality machinery that would ensure the new product met their high standards.
The purchase of PTL’s melter and enrober has started Joycone on a successful journey for enrobing their cookie product.
Because of the superior quality of both the equipment and the support from PTL, Joycone can not only add a new item to their product range, but they can add value to existing products going forward.
“It was a great experience. The quality of the equipment is superior, as was the support.”
– Jeff Hull, Director, Research & Development
Over four billion cones a year
Joycone are a household name, familiar to anyone who likes a good ice-cream. They’ve been producing ice-cream cones since 1918, using a time-tested family recipe that has been passed from one generation to the next. It started out as a family-owned business, and is now an independent, 100% employee-owned company. Their CEO David George is a member of the original, founding family.
Headquartered in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, they operate from four additional locations across the US and Mexico, and employ over 1100 staff. Their portfolio of products includes the staples of cake cones, sugar cones, waffle cones, and waffle bowls.
When Joycone acquired a new customer that wanted cookies that were enrobed on the bottom, they realised it was time to invest in new equipment – a melter and an enrober. “It was an opportunity to produce a new item,” said Jeff Hull, Director of R&D. “And the new equipment would mean we could add value to products going forward.”
The first foray into compound chocolate
The new cookie product required enrobing on one side. Although they had produced chocolate-dipped cake cones previously, this was the company’s first real entry into using compound chocolate, especially enrobing. Their commitment to producing high quality products meant investing in equipment that would meet their standards.
Jeff first heard of PTL through a supplier’s recommendation. “Over the years we’ve looked into enrobing products,” he explains. “PTL was recommended to us by a company we purchase oven equipment from. They had a strong relationship with PTL, so they came highly recommended.”
Jeff’s decision to go with PTL amongst other options he was weighing, was based on the quality and value of PTL’s equipment
The new normal of remote equipment installation
Until 2020, PTL met geographical challenges with ease, with staff spending a significant amount of time in the US, visiting and supporting customers. Covid-19 put paid to that, and presented some logistical challenges in terms of equipment installation.
“Although we ordered the equipment before the pandemic hit, we did have some concerns about how we were going to commission this,” Jeff recalls. “Especially since this was our first venture using this type of equipment.” By the time the melter and enrober were ready to be installed, PTL staff were no longer able to travel to the US.
“PTL’s solution was to contract with a US-based, PTL in-market partner they’d worked with before, to come in and assist with the installation,” Jeff says. “PTL staff provided assistance remotely from New Zealand.”
Ernie Papays, Joycone’s Maintenance Co-ordinator, headed up the team that installed the enrober and the melter. “We have a lot of talented individuals in the cookie plant,” he explains. “Combined with the instructions from PTL, the installation went as smoothly as we could have hoped.”
Back in New Zealand, PTL staff were on hand to provide support and assistance remotely. “Emails, WhatsApp, Zoom – they communicated with us through several methods,” Ernie explains. “It worked great for us. Any questions we had, they were on to it.”
A technician from PTL’s in-market partner was on hand the first time the enrober was run, but for the second run, Joycone were on their own. “We were a little bit nervous, so we requested an online tech from PTL,” Ernie recalls. “Differences in time zones didn’t bother them, they were more than happy to help. They were there for the whole run, start to finish, and right there responding to any hiccups, answering questions as fast as I could ask them. It was a pretty positive day!”
On a learning curve with an encouraging beginning
Although it’s still early days, Ernie and his team are confident of the equipment’s on-going success. “We’re on a bit of a learning curve, we haven’t had a lot of experience with it yet,” he explains. “So far, so good. In terms of functionality the equipment has been working very well, and we’ve seen improvements in the product from the first to the second run.”
Working together – remotely
The new equipment needed to be installed in the middle of an existing line, which necessitated portions of that line being removed, and conveyors inserted. “PTL really worked well with our engineering team, sharing the equipment drawings and doing 3-D modelling,” says Jeff. “One of the reasons the physical installation went so well was the collaboration between our engineering team and PTL – they spent a lot of time upfront doing the modelling so that problems could be avoided.”
Jeff goes on to explain that the teams shared ideas in terms of equipment placement, such as the optimum location for the melter. They also collaborated on other aspects such as piping and layout.
Looking ahead, both Jeff and Ernie have no hesitation in working with PTL in the future. “It was a great experience,” Jeff says. “The quality of the equipment is superior, as was the support.”
“It’s always good when you can build a relationship with an equipment manufacturer,” says Ernie. “The fact that we were able to do that with PTL all the way in New Zealand says a lot, I think.”