May 13, 2019

The Epstein-designed, engineered and constructed Prestage Foods of Iowa pork processing plant in Eagle Grove, Iowa officially opened. The nearly 700,000-square-foot facility is one of the most advanced food processing facilities in the world and is designed to process roughly 600 million pounds of pork annually.

Epstein provided DesignBuild services for this facility, which is dedicated to providing the best tasting and most consistent fresh pork products. The Prestage plant has been laid out to provide for the efficient flow of the chain, product, supplies and workers while integrating the high standards of food safety and sanitary design. Expansion to a second shift is embedded into the plant master plan to allow for the expansion of the EQ, distribution, office and parking facilities. The main production building, situated on the east half of the site, has several outbuildings, including a guardhouse, rendering facility, and waste water treatment facility.

Epstein's engineers and architects were fundamental throughout this project, having designed numerous features for the facility that help benefit the environment. Some of the key sustainable design items include:

  • The aforementioned on-site rendering facility, which will process inedible portions into valuable non-edible products
  • Using the heat from the rendering exhaust to make hot water
  • A thermal oxidizer for the rendering cooker and scrubbers for all the exhaust vents in the rendering facility, in order to help eliminate odors
  • Fully covered waste water lagoons to eliminate fumes and to also allow for the capture of methane
  • The methane will then, in turn, be used in Prestage's boilers to lessen the natural gas requirements
  • Bio-filters at the hog barn to minimize livestock smell

The Prestage facility also features temperature control throughout the process areas to heighten food safety and quality, as well as the potential use of advanced water treatment to allow the recycling of water to wash livestock pens and livestock trailers, reducing the water requirements of the plant.

The Prestage plant integrates the use of industrial automation and robotics with intelligent machines so that the manufacturing process can be carried out with minimal human intervention and improved meat quality. At Prestage, the Marel M-Line robots are employed for the following key design features:

  • Robustness, reliability, precision and ease of maintenance
  • Ability to adapt for use in the harsh environment and strict sanitary requirements of a meat processing plant
  • Their end of arm tooling designed for sterilization between each use
  • Advanced 3D vision systems and high speed computers

The M-Line can achieve not only a reduction in labor, but also eliminates dangerous jobs. Installing a full suite of robots on a high-speed processing line can eliminate up to eight very difficult, repetitive and potentially perilous jobs, said Darrin McCormies, Epstein's Director of Industrial Process Engineering.

We were delighted to provide our DesignBuild services, and are proud to see Prestage use the plant and make high quality products for consumption all around the U.S. and the world.