Leaning in at a Pea Protein Facility

Processing equipment, motors, and basket tray at a facility.

June 29, 2022

We recently completed a facility overhaul for Minneapolis-based PURIS Proteins in Dawson, MN. In addition to electrical construction and engineering, we provided programming, start-up, and commissioning solutions to maintain important dates and help PURIS achieve speed to market in a competitive environment.

The Race to Get to Market

More and more companies are creating and selling meat alternatives due to growing demand. We helped PURIS ride the forefront of this boom by quickly converting a former dairy facility into a state-of-the-art processing facility that mills yellow peas and processes them to make plant-based protein used in vegan meat alternatives. According to Karl Kratzke, Senior Capital Project Manager at PURIS, Interstates helped PURIS achieve its goals “on multiple fronts,” including building control panels, overall construction, and developing the programming that allows the plant to be operated from a centralized control room as well as remotely.

“The client’s goal was to be making product ahead of their competitors, and we’ve made that possible,” says Jesse Bates, Project Manager at Interstates.

Value Engineering Helps Costs and Constructability

Interstates is always looking for ways to add value to projects. “We put a lot of effort into finding value on this project. We used stainless steel cable tray to reduce the amount of stainless conduit needed for motors, roll-out lighting, and value-engineered alternatives on light fixtures. We used a basket tray for the controls to speed up installation to install the pre-terminated cord ends. We also used battery backup lighting in place of emergency circuits, which reduced the lighting conduit footage in half. All these things saved the project a significant amount of money,” says Bates.

Utilizing prefabrication also saved time and money on this project. Kratzke says, “As a project team, we searched for ways to drive as much work offsite and into a shop as possible. That decision paid off as the pandemic impacted the way we were able to work. Interstates’ ability to prefabricate offsite helped move hours from the field into the shop and reduced the overall on-site manpower.”

Start-up and Commissioning Success Leads to New Role

Interstates programmer Tom Kruger took the role of start-up coordinator and was a key player to the Cargill and PURIS counterparts. According to Ryan Bye, Project Manager at Interstates, “We didn’t bid start-up services initially, but when Tom stepped in to fill a gap, it was clear he was doing a great job. Both the client and Cargill had great feedback about how well the start-up went under Tom’s direction, and now he’s going to transition into that role full-time as a start-up manager.”

Kruger says his approach was all about communication. “It was important to be upfront with the client about what we were working on, but also constantly meeting with our own team to keep everyone on the same page,” he says.

“We were able to use our food and beverage experience to help PURIS finish their design and solve problems, becoming more of a client rep than just a contractor. Our end goal was to give them a good product, and we had the skills to deliver that,” says Bates. Bye adds that the project wouldn’t have been a success without the immense team effort he observed. “No one on our team said, ‘That’s not my problem.’ Instead, they were leaning in and finding a solution to make it happen. It really makes me proud,” says Bye.

By utilizing the entire team’s strengths and leaning into new roles and opportunities, we were able to get PURIS’ plant up and running when they needed it. Kratzke says, “The completion of this facility makes PURIS the largest domestic producer of pea protein and provides us the opportunity to increase our grower network, as well as supply more product to the growing pea protein market.”