Hints for Tray Assembly Lines

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Cook’s Correctional Tray Assembly Line

Pre-portioning meals on insulated trays for delivery to pods or units is efficient and economical.  Yet it’s amazing how many tray assembly operations end up inefficient because of the order of foods on the line.  Hot foods should go on trays last, not first.  Start with room temperature foods like bread and rolls, and next add cold foods.  Last, add the hot portions.

Ideally, cold food should be kept below 40 degrees F and hot food above 165 degrees F.  Minimize the distance a worker has to move food from well to tray.  Be sure to keep the conveyor line moving fast enough to keep workers busy with no time for mischief.

Here are some easy to follow guidelines for your conveyor line set-up:

  • Allow 30” per worker for adequate shoulder space.
  • Using 16” wide hot and cold steam tables keeps workers close to the conveyor
  • Pitch the conveyor line ¼” per 1’0” from the head of the line to the end.
  • Cover hot food after portioning as quickly as possible to keep heat in or store trays in a heated cabinet.
  • Since cold trays chill hot food fast, keep trays in a warm tray washing or other area.
  • Always strap together for transport to retain temperature.

When planning your line, use this guide to steam table pan portion capacities:

  • 2 ½” D Full Size Pan:  9 Quarts = (72) 4 oz. portions
  • 2 ½” D Half Size Pan: 4 Quarts = (32) 4 oz. portions
  • 4” D Full Size Pan:  15 Quarts = (120) 4 oz. portions
  • 4” D Half Size Pan: 7 Quarts = (56) 4 oz. portions
  • 6” D Full Size Pan:  22 Quarts = (176) 4 oz. portions
  • 6” D Half Size Pan: 10 Quarts = (80) 4 oz. portions

If you’re looking for additional capacity guides you can go to the resource section at the back of the Correctional Buyers Guide (click here to view the catalog online).  You can also contact your Cook’s Correctional Sales Representative for any help you may need with

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

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