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InLine Customer Clemens Food Group Named Food Plant of the Year 2023

A manufacturing plant expansion and InLine project for Clemens Food Group is enjoying the national spotlight for its innovation and excellence in plant design. Clemens Hatfield North—a manufacturing operation on the campus of the company’s longtime headquarters in Hatfield, PA—was recently honored as Food Engineering’s 2023 Plant of the Year. The recognition comes after InLine delivered process & packaging systems design and engineering following Gray’s design and construction of the 308,000 s.f. facility.


In its feature article for the award, Food Engineering noted that the facility’s process design and layout reflected Clemens’ high standards for food safety and employee welfare—top priorities for Clemens and key factors in the judges’ decision to award the facility. 

Innovation in Design


InLine partnered with Gray on the project to introduce state-of-the-art food safety measures and updated process design for the new facility. The design fully segregated raw food processes from ready-to-eat (RTE) aspects of the facility to minimize cross-contamination risks and ensure products are manufactured without chemical or microbial contaminants. Process piping and cure generation tanks were integrated into equipment for easy draining and utilize Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems for fast, safe routine cleanings. This innovative process design also accounted for air circulation, ensuring that air pressurization always flows from higher to lower hygiene areas (from RTE to raw food areas) to prevent the spread of airborne pathogens.


InLine Engineers delivered turnkey process design and engineering services for the facility:  

  • Extensive process and packaging design, engineering, and construction administration to develop process and packaging systems for multiple raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) SKUs 
  • Equipment specification for integrated line layouts and MEP systems, equipment bid evaluations and awards, and field installation support 
  • Design and engineering support on process subsystems including brine making, injection, massaging, stuffing, smoking/cooking, chilling, slicing, cubing, and primary packaging formats
  • Design and construction of an isolated viewing corridor for customers to view RTE product lines
  • Design and integration of a 4,800-ton ammonia refrigeration system to support process systems, including a catwalk in the engine room for increased safety and control of the ammonia system and hand valves 


Additionally, InLine implemented automated packing via robotics and palletizers to promote sanitation and the complete separation of incoming raw ingredients from finished RTE products, as well as color-coded floor coatings and doors to indicate various hygiene zones. Several processing areas for sausage and bacon processing, from raw receiving and sausage formulation to cooking and primary/secondary packaging, were constructed for the seamless transition of materials through product lines, giving Clemens unprecedented efficiency in material movement. 



Award-winning Results


The Hatfield North project was envisioned to increase the manufacturing operation’s production capacity and efficiency to meet growing demand. The completed facility resulted in a 50% increase in annual capacity for all smokehouse and foodservice bacon lines and more than three times the annual capacity for fully cooked sausage. By designing the production floor with additional space at the front and back end of each product line, Clemens is now well-positioned to accommodate leadership’s planned growth strategy, ensure plant workers’ long-term welfare, and maintain the highest standards of food safety for its customers. 

InLine Engineers is a Gray company.

InLine provides engineering, process improvement, and planning services for Food & Beverage leaders. In 2018, InLine joined the Gray family to complement its Food & Beverage offering. As a Gray company, we help customers transform their operations to maximize their ROI.