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New equipment fuels new opportunity

KiZE partnered with Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, a part of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, to implement a new bar extruder at its manufacturing facility.

By Laci Jones, FAPC Communications Services Student

(Stillwater, Okla. – June 10, 2015) With Oklahoma ranking as one of the top states for obesity, KiZE Concepts of Oklahoma City understands the need for good health and nutrition by developing high-energy and high-protein nutrition bars and snacks.

KiZE partnered with Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, a part of the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, to implement a new bar extruder at its manufacturing facility.

Tim Bowser, FAPC food process engineer and biosystems and agricultural engineering faculty member, helped KiZE identify their equipment needs, look at alternatives, make a decision, install the equipment, evaluate product results and make adjustments.

Jeff Ragan, founder of KiZE Concepts, saw a need to introduce new equipment into the production process to keep up with KiZE’s growing demand.

“We kept growing, Ragan said. “We reached a major stall point, where we couldn’t make more any faster by hand.”

KiZE is engaged with exercise centers and promotes best health and nutrition for exercise programs. The products are sold in natural food stores, grocery stores, coffee and juice bars, sport teams and fitness studios.

“None of us have any food or technical background,” Ragan said. “We had to rely heavily on Bowser to help assist us through that process.”

KiZE tested different machines before purchasing a Robot 500 from Reiser, Bowser said.

“The machine works by loading the product in the hopper of the machine,” Bowser said. “The machine mixes the product and extrudes it into the shape desired by the user.”

After the machine was installed, Bowser continued to help KiZE with the process.

A challenge in adding the products was making adjustments to maintain the quality consistency standards from the handmade products, Ragan said. FAPC continued to help KiZE by making adjustments to improve the production process.

“KiZE’s cost of production, specifically labor cost, decreased dramatically because of the bar extruder,” Bowser said.

Before the installation of the new equipment, KiZE could make 28-pound batches by hand. The machine allows KiZE to process 120-pound batches into bars in approximately 45 minutes.

“Current production capabilities at KiZE outstrip sales by about 400 percent,” Bowser said.

KiZE plans to expand the business by adding a new automated packaging system, a horizontal flow wrapper, to the process.

“We can make more, but we now have to package more by hand,” Ragan said. “Not only will automated packaging save us time, but it gives a few flexible ways of how we produce.”

KiZE looked at several automated packaging systems ranging from new, used and rebuilt systems.

The new packaging machine will dramatically reduce labor and packaging material costs, Bowser said. A nitrogen gas flush will extend shelf life and improve product quality.

“The automated packaging machine opens up so many more positive things that are possible,” Ragan said.

KiZE is preparing to launch its product on a larger level. The company is also working on grant applications related to product development and internships.

Because of its partnership with FAPC, KiZE won the Oklahoma State University Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award. The award is designed to further cultivate the higher learning environment through State Regents’ Economic Development Grants.

“It is a very big honor,” Ragan said. “We are privileged and blessed to receive the award.”

The Partnership Recognition Program award will pay for the trade show booth rental at the 2015 Oklahoma Super Trade Show in Oklahoma City.

KiZE attended FAPC’s Basic Training workshop in August 2011. In addition to Bowser’s assistance with equipment, FAPC has supported KiZE with product technical assistance, food safety, shelf life and sensory analysis in comparisons of its products with competitor products.

“We are thankful for all of the assistance through OSU and FAPC,” Ragan said. “We hope we can build a long-term partnership and create really great, healthy food products in the state of Oklahoma.”

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Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant system of interdisciplinary programs that prepares students for success. OSU is America’s Brightest Orange. Through leadership and service, OSU is preparing students for a bright future and building a brighter world for all. As Oklahoma’s only university with a statewide presence, OSU improves the lives of people in Oklahoma, the nation and the world through integrated, high-quality teaching, research and outreach. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 245,000 students to serve Oklahoma, the nation and the world.