By Mike Bacidore, Managing Editor
In 1984, the founders of P&L Specialties (www.pnlspecialties.com), a manufacturer of customized machinery in Santa Rosa, Calif., were determined to produce only the finest quality equipment. "This unwavering commitment has remained the cornerstone of our operating principles," says Ed Barr, president. "This achievement has only been possible by employing the finest craftsmen and artisans."
Almost all of P&L's machines are built of the wine and food industry. They include sorting tables such as the LT, bin dumpers, receiving hoppers, catwalks, belt and screw conveyors, rotary screens, mixers and other specialized food equipment. P&L's equipment is designed to integrate seamlessly with product lines from CME, Demoisy and Sutter.
"We import the very best in pumps and destemmers from CME in Italy," says Barr. "Our CME lineup includes the PPC peristaltic, screw-type, elliptical lobe and piston pumps, DPN destemmer-crushers, in both stainless steel and bronze."
P&L offers Swiss-made Sutter pneumatic presses, which come in sizes ranging 1,000-15,000 l, in open or closed styles.
"And we are the exclusive North American representatives for Demoisy winery equipment," explains Barr. "P&L Specialties will be providing the Galeo destemmer, the Mohno Vega pump and the revolutionary multi-cone crusher roller from Demoisy."
With 30 employees at its California facility, P&L primarily builds belted conveyors. "They are stainless steel framed units with roller bed design," explains Barr. "They are outfitted with a motorized drum pulley that we have been using for many years. We also build our patented LT MOG separation machine. It is an oscillating drive powered machine that removes undesirable material from the grape processing stream."
Barr's father is a registered civil engineer who is on staff to provide a reality check on the structural integrity of catwalk and support structures that P&L builds. "The production manager and I are licensed airframe and power plant mechanics," says Barr. "And the vice president/founder is a German-trained machinist. We have a very diverse employee base who have a real understanding of mechanical systems, built-in design redundancy and safe design."
P&L provides a two-year iron-clad warranty on everything it sells, says Barr. "If it breaks and you did not break it, we will fix it free," he explains. "No questions asked." P&L also performs a startup and training session with every delivery, as well as providing operation manuals at the time of delivery. The manuals also are available on the website in case it's lost or another copy is needed.
"We stock all the spare parts one would need including old design parts or retrofit kits in the case of obsolete stock," explains Barr. "Frankly, technology creates levels of obsolete parts as we migrate from one product to the next. We try very hard to keep the same control parts on our equipment for the longest amount of time to reduce the confusion and stocking requirements. If we find a good reliable part, we will use it as long as we can. Price is not the issue; it is reliability and support from the manufacturer."
P&L Specialties uses basic VFD controls with programmable parameters, explains Barr. "Occasionally, we will use relay logic to control systems, and rarely we will use a PLC to control items," he says. "Our controls are preprogrammed VFDs with adjustable parameters and PLCs. Everything is hardwired."
Innovations in P&L's machines are being driven by customers desires to involve less manpower in the operation of its systems and to improve the product quality, which translates into increased adjustability and functionality of the machinery. Barr hopes PLC programming will become even easier and more user-friendly with enhanced Windows or human-interface capabilities.