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Scotch Whisky Association and Scottish Craft Distillers Association Launch Partnership

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and the Scottish Craft Distillers Association (SCDA) have made a commitment to work in partnership to support the continued success of the entire Scotch whisky industry and its supply chain. The agreement recognises the record expansion of the Scotch whisky industry with 14 distilleries starting production since 2013 and a further 8 set to open this year. There are currently up to 40 new distilleries at various stages of planning and development across Scotland.

Industry trade body, the SWA, and the SCDA, an association representing only newer, smaller producers, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Scotch whisky is vital to the Scottish and UK economies, adding £5 billion in value each year, supporting more than 40,000 jobs and exporting £4 billion of Scotch annually to almost 200 markets.

The SWA and SCDA will support each other, while remaining distinct organisations with their own memberships, to build on Scotch whisky’s long-term, global reputation for provenance and high quality products. The agreement, signed at the new Glasgow Distillery in Hillington, recognises that Scotch Whisky is: “a significant Scottish and British cultural asset based on authentic and unvarying local methods of production, with distilleries and brands supporting the communities with which they work; creating jobs and boosting growth.”

The MoU makes it easier for well-established Scotch whisky companies to share their experience of building brands and opening up overseas markets with newer entrants to the industry. Newer companies can, in turn, offer fresh approaches and ideas to drive continued vitality across the industry.

The main commitments of the MoU are to:

* work together to grow understanding of the rules surrounding Scotch Whisky, its production, handling and marketing within the industry and through the supply chain, recognising shared interest in the public good of the Scotch Whisky industry;

* encourage shared approaches to stakeholder engagement, including around raising awareness of best practice on responsible marketing and promotion of Scotch Whisky;

* work together to ensure the Scotch Whisky workforce is appropriately skilled;

* improve industry information;

* collaborate amongst existing memberships.

There are currently 119 distilleries producing Scotch whisky. The Scotch whisky distilleries opened since 2013 are: Annandale, Arbikie, Ardnamurchan, Ballindalloch, Dalmunach, Eden Mill, Glasgow, Isle of Harris, Kingsbarns, Inchdairnie, Strathearn, Torabhaig (Skye), and Wolfburn.

Distilleries understood to be set to open in 2017 – Bladnoch (re-opening), Borders (Hawick), Clydeside, Dornoch, Drimnin, Isle of Raasay, Lindores Abbey, Toulvaddie and Lone Wolf (Ellon).

CAPTION:

Picture shows (left to right): Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing; SWA head of communications, Rosemary Gallagher; Alan Wolstenholme, Scottish Craft Distillers Association chairman.

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Fundamental Changes Ahead For Global Wine Industry

Following a bump in the road, China is once more expected to drive global grape wine consumption between now and 2020, according to the IWSR Vinexpo Report 2017, the most comprehensive survey of the global wine market. Asia-Pacific will thus supplant the Americas as the main engine for wine growth over the coming period. At current rates, China will overtake the UK to become the second most-valuable still wine market by the end of the forecast period.

For 2017, premium wines (above $10.00) are forecast to grow the most. Winemakers in Australia, France and Italy will perform particularly well on the international stage. Each is expected to see an additional 1m nine-litre cases this year alone. New Zealand’s rise will continue, particularly in North West Europe. However, by virtue of their expansive and developing home market, premium US winemakers will enjoy the most volume gains.

Premium, pale dry rosé may have dominated the headlines in recent years, but rosé’s main driver remains offdry varieties. According to IWSR analyst Giles Gough, this is where the category is expected to continue to see the most gains over the coming period. “Emerging wine markets will be a key driver – especially South Africa – where ‘natural sweet’ rosé has captured the imagination of emerging middle-class drinkers,” says Gough. “Even in developed markets, the sweeter rosé style has an important role to play in talking to younger drinkers, who otherwise may defer entry to the category, or not at all.”

The biggest innovation remains low-alcohol and flavoured wines. These products have been one of the major success stories in the UK, while Germany has led the way in flavoured low-alcohol and/or alcohol-free sparkling wines. Elsewhere in Europe, low-alcohol and flavoured wines are gaining traction, in part to fight category blur – the tendency among consumers to switch between beers, ciders and wines – and in part in response to evergrowing levels of health awareness. Prosecco’s boom is set to continue worldwide as the trend spreads geographically. In 2010 prosecco was 10% the size of Champagne in the UK; by 2020 it is forecast to be three times bigger.

The report comprises a global summary with detailed market and consumer insights for an additional 20 key countries, forecasts for 2016 to 2020, and historical data from 2010. It offers breakdowns by market, volume, colour, value and price point. Additional data on international trade, production and area under vine is also supplied. The final section places wine in the context of the global alcohol market and examines how it is affected by category blur, thereby assessing potential growth threats and opportunities across three key global regions.

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Irish Whiskey Association Meets Scotch Whisky Association

Representatives from the Irish Whiskey Association and the Scotch Whisky Association have held their annual meeting to discuss products, new opportunities and the challenges posed by Brexit. Irish whiskey exports now represent more than a third of all drinks exports and were valued at €505 million in 2016. The industry has experienced huge growth over the last 10 years and recently saw plans for two new distilleries in Derry and Dublin move another step closer, bringing the total number of distilleries to 16 in production and a further 14 in planning with many other projects at other stages of development.

With 118 distilleries in operation in Scotland and exports of Scotch whisky valued at £4 billion a year, the sector is considerably bigger than the Irish whiskey sector.

Miriam Mooney, head of the Irish Whiskey Association, says: “Whilst Irish whiskey is the fastest growing premium spirit in the world, the Scotch whisky industry is more established and is the largest net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods, creating £5 billion annually for the economy. As the Irish whiskey sector continues to prosper we only have to look at Scotland to see what’s possible for the industry in terms of growth and potential. The sector is a significant contributor to rural employment, supporting often fragile local economies including 7,000 jobs in rural Scotland alone.”
She adds: “Irish whiskey is undergoing a renaissance which is being driven by both existing and new players alike and global recognition for high quality Irish whiskey has never been higher. We look forward to working together with our counterparts in Scotland to promote further growth and to discuss the challenges facing both sectors including the uncertainty around Brexit.”

Irish Whiskey vs Scotch Whisky League Table

Irish Whiskey Scotch Whisky
Employees (direct and indirect) 5,000 40,000
Number of distilleries 16 in production and 14 in planning 118
Number of Markets sold in world 135 200
Export value €505m £4bn

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SCAE+SCAA = Specialty Coffee Association

As of January 2017, the Specialty Coffee Association of America, established in 1982, and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe, established in 1998, have officially become one organization. The unified organization, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), has launched this website to house information around key activities, events, and offerings. This is meant to be a temporary site while we work on combining our resources and updating our materials. To visit the previous SCAA or SCAE websites, please click the links below:

Specialty Coffee Association
of America

Speciality Coffee Association
of Europe

The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is a membership-based association built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge. From coffee farmers to baristas and roasters, our membership spans the globe, encompassing every element of the coffee value chain. SCA acts as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry and works to make coffee better by raising standards worldwide through a collaborative and progressive approach. Dedicated to building an industry that is fair, sustainable, and nurturing for all, SCA draws on years of insights and inspiration from the specialty coffee community.

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Seafood Scotland Nets a New Leader

Patrick Hughes has been appointed as the new head of Seafood Scotland, the organisation set up ‘by the industry for the industry’ in 1999 to increase the value of return to the Scottish seafood sector.  He joins from SAC Consulting, the consulting arm of the Scotland’s Rural College, where he was Senior Food and Drink consultant.  He worked closely with emerging and established food & drink businesses across Scotland to highlight best practice, identify collaborative opportunities and facilitate key learnings that would affect growth, profitability and greater commercialisation of the sector.

As part of his previous role, Patrick led the Scottish Government funded Think Local programme followed by Connect Local, Scotland’s local food and drink marketing advisory service launched in July 2016, comprising SAC Consulting, Scotland Food & Drink, SAOS (the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) and Seafood Scotland.

Having graduated from The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Patrick then spent just over 20 years working in the seafood sector across the North-East, and it is this combination – of food and drink experience, first-hand seafood knowledge and direct experience as a seafood producer and supplier, that he will bring to the role as Head of Seafood Scotland.

Patrick Hughes.

On his ambitions for the role, and Seafood Scotland, Patrick comments: “I am particularly looking forward to tackling some of the significant challenges facing the seafood sector over the next couple of years.  In an ever-changing landscape, we don’t yet know what form these challenges will take, so we will need to be adaptable, nimble and receptive to the opportunities that change could bring.

“My remit is to transform Seafood Scotland into a sustainable organisation that will continue to support and grow the sector whilst working closely with the wider food and drink industry and I relish the opportunity to be at the head of the organisation at such a transformative time.”

Seafood Scotland operates worldwide, alongside Government agencies such as Scottish Development International, to promote the wealth of Scottish seafood to a global trade market, which increasingly values the quality and provenance that Scottish seafood is famed for.  Focusing on restaurant and catering trade deals, the organisation targets trade buyers, wholesalers, industry influencers and chefs in the US, Europe (including the rest of the UK), the Middle-East and Asia – acting as the conduit between in-country trade markets and Scottish suppliers.

Iain Macsween, Chairman of Seafood Scotland, says: “Patrick’s knowledge of the Seafood sector, alongside his experience of helping businesses develop and grow, made him the natural choice for the role.  The Seafood Scotland board looks forward to working with Patrick not only to develop further international opportunities for Scotland’s seafood industry, but also to grow the home market – encouraging chefs and trade suppliers in the UK to source top quality seafood from domestic shores.”

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Edrington Awards Key Contract to Elite Control Systems

Elite Control Systems Ltd, a leading provider of systems integration and engineering support services, has been awarded a major contract by Scotland’s leading premium spirits company Edrington for its new distillery and visitor centre for The Macallan whisky, one of the world’s leading luxury Scotch malt whiskies.
 
Nestled in the parklands of The Macallan Estate in Speyside, the contemporary distillery promises to be, according to Edrington, “a site of major architectural significance,” as well as a huge boost to tourism and the local economy.  With architects Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, designers of the Millennium Dome and Pompidou Centre, commissioned to design and build it, the new facility will not only “complement the natural beauty of the area,” but be highly innovative and environmentally sound.
 
Edrington is relying on Elite Control Systems to write the full process software control package, and provide ongoing support services following commissioning. This combination of technology and 24-hour technical support will ensure that the automated control systems that Edrington uses to operate the new plant function properly, so that production remains on track and the visitor centre remains open to welcome thousands of visitors all year-round.
 
edringtonnewdistillery2Whisky Distillery Project From ‘Ground Up’
For Elite Control Systems, the project represents the challenge of providing a fully operational software control system for a distillery from the ‘ground up’.  “It’s very exciting that a brand new distillery of this size, sophistication and calibre is being built in Scotland,” says Ewan McAllister, Technical Director for Elite Control Systems. 
 
“The fact that Elite Control Systems were selected by Edrington to provide a full software control system for the entire facility illustrates that we have earned our reputation as a recognised leader in providing control systems for the whisky industry.  Clearly, Edrington are confident that we will deliver the large, complex system that this high profile facility demands.  It’s an honour to have been given this opportunity to contribute to what is certain to become a testament to the quality and craftsmanship of The Macallan brand, and an outstanding experience that will attract visitors from around the world,” adds McAllister.
 
Prior to installing the software control system on-site in Speyside, Elite will make certain that it conforms with Edrington’s specific requirements.  Initially, the control software will be simulated, tested and fully documented at Elite’s facility in Livingston to ensure a smooth commissioning period, with minimal programming required on-site.
 
After the facility is up and running, Elite’s dedicated Support Services division will provide around-the-clock support of the new distillery’s state-of-the-art control system. Should any hardware or network problems arise, Elite Control Systems engineers will be on standby to respond immediately to rectify the situation so that operations will resume as soon as possible.  To make certain that the system functions properly, Elite will also conduct regular preventative maintenance checks, minor system modifications and training of Edrington technical staff.
 
Improving Efficiencies For Edrington
For the past six years, Elite Control Systems has worked alongside Edrington to ensure that its process control systems operate reliably, so that production continues at optimum levels. For example, last year Elite Control Systems helped Edrington improve efficiencies at a large tank farm located at its Great Western Road facility in Glasgow, Scotland.  Elite carried out an upgrade to the control system that was being used andby doing so, eliminated the need for operators to manually route batches for blending and preparation.  These functions are now carried out within the new SCADA & PLC control platform, which also allows for real-time monitoring via an internal web portal. This effectively allows management to view tank levels, transfers, final product and routes, as required.

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Pacepacker Services Leads the Way With Automation Awareness Workshops

Pacepacker Services is teaming up with renowned equipment manufacturer and training provider Festo, to offer Automation Awareness Workshops for its customers, involving all those with a stake in the automation process in smoothing the journey, while maximising the benefits and, ultimately, ROI. The workshops will focus on how customers can integrate systems and extract full benefit from them quickly and efficiently. The half-day events will be free to a given number of attendees from each company.

Increasing numbers of manufacturers in sectors such as food and drink are recognising the benefits of automation, whether in terms of output, yield, reliability, product quality or traceability. However fewer are aware of the less obvious factors influencing how readily that desired result can be fully achieved.

“From upstream machines, which affect the efficiency of the rest of the line, to missed opportunities in enlisting the positive support of the workforce, it is important that we educate our customers and increase overall awareness as part of the process of integrating automation,” explains Pacepacker’s Business Development Manager, Paul Wilkinson.

Each workshop is specifically crafted to be extremely useful and relevant to the specifics of each company’s operations, with full engagement from key company stakeholders, from operators and line supervisors, to engineering team members and directors.

Other opportunities the workshops will highlight include practical preparations for installation and how to manage training or recruitment to ensure customers have the correct in-house expertise to meet the needs of automation.

“This is about smoothing the process of automation inside the factory, it’s about you and your team being ready, and it is about external factors which may affect how the overall system performs,” says Paul. “The end result may be all to do with speed, product quality, reduced wastage and rejects or a combination of all of these and more. Ultimately, this is about maximising return on investment (ROI), in the shortest possible time.”

pacepacker2october2016In practical terms, this new approach to automation awareness could well reduce the period when the line is either not running at all, or running below its optimal performance.

Paul adds: “From Pacepacker’s point of view, we want satisfied customers. This is yet another way we can demonstrate the high levels of support we consistently provide our customers with.”

Festo, though known principally as a manufacturer of automation systems and components, has a strong track record in training and consultancy rooted in its real-world experience. In fact, the company runs 2,900 courses worldwide every year, training no fewer than 42,000 individuals.

The Festo-designed workshops will bring together attendees from different companies at Pacepacker’s head office in Essex. For larger customers, there will be the opportunity for cross-site events where representatives of different operations will be able to pool their experiences and observations.

“Pacepacker is in alignment with our objective to look beyond the supply of components and solutions and to help our customers not just succeed, but to excel in their markets,” explains Neil Lewin, Senior Consultant for Festo Training & Consultancy. “The course will raise awareness of the complete approach required when engaging in automation projects, and provide customers with a strategic plan for implementation of automation in to their plant. The end result being a solution that meets its promises on ROI and sustainability.”

A white paper and ‘automation checklist’ will perform a similar function for businesses installing smaller systems. For further information contact Pacepacker Services on +44 (0)1371 811544, or visit www.pacepacker.com.

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Egemin to Build High-bay Warehouse For Belgium Snack Food Producer Poco Loco

Egemin Automation will soon start with the construction of a new automated high-bay warehouse for Belgian snack food producer Poco Loco. The company has been experiencing steady growth and needs more capacity. To achieve this, the company recently bought seven hectares of industrial area across the street from the company’s existing production facility. The new warehouse is part of a Eur50 million project that will allow Poco Loco to centralize its storage in one location, giving it even more control over its logistics process. For Egemin the project represents a confirmation of its competencies in automated warehouses for the food industry. The new warehouse is to go operational by early 2018.

Poco Loco produces tortilla wraps, crisps, dinner kits, Tex Mex spices and sauces. Approximately 96% of everything made in the Roeselare facility is destined for foreign markets. Until now, the products have been stored at different sites and with external suppliers. “By centralizing a major part of our warehouse, we will cut 25,000 truck trips,” says Peter Denolf, Managing Director at Poco Loco. “We will, therefore, not only save money but will also acquire more control over our own logistics. This will help us respond more flexibly to the demand of our customers.”

The new fully automated high-bay warehouse will be able to store 42,000 pallets. A 100-metre-long conveyor bridge over the public road between the production facility and automated warehouse will connect both locations. Conveyors on the bridge will transport finished pallets to the warehouse and supply raw materials from the warehouse to the production site. Finished products for customers will be picked in the warehouse and then automatically transferred to the loading zone.

Egemin Automation will deliver the complete design and delivery of the system, including all warehouse equipment and the automation of all logistics processes within this project. “We have succeeded in separating all the logistics processes and  properly aligning them,” says Joris Van Hoye, System and Concept Engineer at Egemin Automation. “The cooperation with logistics consultant Logflow, who was responsible for mapping the logistics flows of goods and the feasibility study, went very well. The warehouse, at 43 metres high and with a surface area of 8,000 sqm, makes it an impressive project. The warehouse is equipped with 11 stacker cranes and 910 metres of pallet conveyor, which ensure that 304 pallets can be moved in and out per hour. We managed to come up with a fairly simple solution to the myriad of complex logistics processes. That’s one reason why Poco Loco chose Egemin.”

The construction of the project will start soon and run for 18 months. The new warehouse is to go operational by early 2018. For Egemin, this project is an additional confirmation of its growth in warehousing and distribution solutions and its expertise in automated high-bay warehouses for the food industry.

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Less Hard Work on the Sausage Packing Line

With an automated solution from Cabinplant, the future of sausage packing is flexible, gentle and precise. Tales of manufacturers that pay to transport workers to their factory are well known in the food industry. Faced with a shortage of labour and rising labour costs, opportunities for automated packaging are increasingly attractive to many.

“We know that the standard of living is going up in many parts of the world. This makes it less attractive to work on the shop floor in a food factory,” says Morten Dissing, area sales manager at Cabinplant, a leading supplier of food processing and packing solutions. “It was this that inspired us to develop our automated sausage depositor.”

Sausage packing has traditionally been carried out on highly labour-intensive machines, where operators ensure sausages are arranged in orderly layers ready for packaging. The Cabinplant sausage depositor takes over this role, quickly adapting to a wide variety of sausage and pack sizes.

Future-secure Flexibility

In the sausage business, such flexibility is a key word. This is why each Cabinplant solution is sold with a series of depositor tools to cater for present and future packaging needs.

cabinplant2october2016“Our design means it takes less than 15 minutes to change over to a new sausage type or pack size, so there is very little production downtime. One operator can easily manage the task,” Dissing explains.

Reducing Damage and Give-away

For manufacturers, gentle handling is essential to minimise product damage on the line and rework. Another key issue is ‘give-away’ – the extra grams of product that manufacturers allow in each pack to ensure the actual weight is never below the weight stated on the pack label.

The Cabinplant sausage depositor overcomes these challenges through two exclusive features.

One is the vibrating action used to transport and align sausages on the machine. While conventional mechanical conveyors cause up to 5% product damage, this is virtually eliminated by the vibrating mechanism.

Optimising Pack Weight

The other is the multi-head weighing machine that not only ensures the right number of sausages in each packaging, but also accounts for small variations in the weight of each sausage. In this way, sausages are selected from the weighing channels and combined in portions of optimum weight.

cabinplant3october2016“Through the use of an accurate weighing system, the average sausage weight can be reduced without risk of failing to meet the stated pack weight,” says Dissing. He gives a real-life example: “If the average weight is reduced by, say, 1.5g per sausage, then give-away for a pack of six is reduced by 9g. Over a year, the total product saving is close to 30 tonnes.”

In other words, 30 tonnes are no longer given away for free.

Capacity – A Positive Surprise

Cabinplant project manager Allan Hansen Nissen has focused on developing an adaptable, layout-friendly solution that can satisfy most customers’ needs for a tailor-made solution. In his experience, customers are positively surprised by the high efficiency and throughput compared to the number of operators on the line.

“Most sausage manufacturers talk about capacity in terms of kilos per hour. Our system can achieve a similar capacity to traditional labour-intensive lines – in some applications, even higher. And they need only a few operators to run at this high capacity,” he comments.

With less downtime, give-away and waste on the line, manufacturers can look forward to a flexible and future-proof sausage-packing operation with a fast return on investment. That’s an automation opportunity worth exploring.

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SSI SCHAEFER – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

The SSI Schaefer Group is the world’s leading provider of modular warehousing and logistics solutions. It employs over 8,500 people at its group headquarters in Neunkirchen, Germany, at its domestic and international production sites, and at its 60 foreign subsidiaries, which includes the United Kingdom. Across six continents, SSI Schaefer develops and implements innovative industry-specific answers to its customers’ unique challenges. As a result, it plays a key role in shaping the future of intralogistics.

SSI Schaefer designs, develops and manufactures systems for warehouses, industrial plants, workshops and offices. Its portfolio includes manual and automated solutions for warehousing, conveying, picking and sorting, plus technologies for waste management and recycling. In addition, SSI Schaefer is now a leading provider of modular, regularly updated software for in-house material flows. Its IT team, with a headcount in excess of 900, develops high-performance applications, and provides customers with in-depth advice on the intelligent combination of software with intralogistics equipment. SSI Schaefer’s broad IT offering, including its own WAMAS® and SAP products, delivers seamless support for all warehouse and material flow management processes. Solutions from SSI Schaefer improve the productivity and efficiency of customer organisations – not least through the highly precise monitoring, visualisation and analysis of operational metrics for proactive intralogistics management.

SSI Schaefer offers highly sophisticated, turnkey systems. As an international player, it can deliver one-stop solutions to all four corners of the earth. Its comprehensive portfolio encompasses design, planning, consulting, and customer-specific aftersales services and maintenance.

The company’s enhanced stand presence at the IMHX will reflect the breadth and depth of its experience, showcasing a broad spectrum of products and solutions within the sphere of intralogistics. Live demonstrations of two new products – the fully updated 2016 LogiMat SLL vertical lift storage system and the innovative, new, IFOY Award-winning Weasel Automated Guided Vehicle – will be continually running, while up-to-date case studies and material covering IT and Customer Services and Support systems will also be available.

IMHX is the largest meeting place for the UK’s logistics industry. Next month over 20,000 logistics and supply chain professionals will gather to evaluate cutting edge technologies, explore the latest industry solutions and discuss how to increase efficiencies within supply chain operations.

IMHX 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 13th-16th September. Demand for stand space has been exceptional and IMHX 2016 will be the biggest and most comprehensive in the show’s history with over 400 exhibitors!

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Au2mate Delivers the Fully Integrated Factory Automation System For the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Factory

By Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S

This article gives an overview of the design and implementation process for the highly advanced factory automation system at the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates factory opened in June 2016.

The project has been implemented in close cooperation with AFI as the end user and Process Engineering as the main engineering contractor and with Au2mate as the supplier of the factory control system.

The Hydrolysates plant is complex both in terms of processes and applied automation technology and at the same time the performance requirements are set very high; this includes user friendliness, process optimization, waste, energy consumption, detergents and plant uptime.

The plant automation solution is based upon the latest yet proven technologies and equipment from leading manufacturers, ensuring the investment and future development of the plant.

The engineering standards applied as the basis for the solution are leading international standards ensuring the quality today as well as flexibility with regard to future support and development. The project is fully documented accordingly.

The software solution is designed according to S88/S95 which forms a robust platform supporting superior management of the dairy inclusive of fully integrated manufacturing order execution.

Extended use of well proven software modules in accordance with Arla Foods standards, guidelines and best practices ensures straightforward future development, extensions and maintenance.

AFI Hydrolysates factory situated in Nr. Vium in the Western Part of Jutland, Denmark.

AFI Hydrolysates factory situated in Nr. Vium in the Western Part of Jutland, Denmark.

The solution designed and implemented at the AFI Hydrolysates factory is embedding the joint Au2mate expertise and good automation practice gained from conducting major automation projects over more than 3 decades.

To future proof the plant it is most important to recognise that the plant automation system is designed in a flexible manner in order to facilitate that the process can be optimised concurrently during the life time of the plant aligned with changes in production requirements, process requirements and on-going changing and upgrading of production standards.

From an automation perspective the key to achieve this is to design the hardware as well as the software in a modular, standardised and well documented way. And further that the applied technology for the plant automation system is transferred to the operational organisation of the AFI Hydrolysates factory.

Below in this article there is a more detailed description of the design and functionality of the control system as well as the implementation and project management of the project. Please refer to below photo showing a part of the process area.

Design and Functionality of the AFI Hydrolysates Factory Control System

Part of the process area.

Part of the process area.

The plant is equipped with a comprehensive automation system comprising I/O, PLC, SCADA, MES as well as communication networks.

Operation of the plant takes place from 10 pcs. Wonderware InTouch operator stations located in the central control room as well as in the field for operation and monitoring of the plant.

The control system is based upon 20 pcs Siemens S7-414 PLCs for the process. Interface to the plant items takes place via ET200 modules located in I/O boxes in the plant process area. The interface boxes are connected to the PLCs via Profinet. Interface to the MCC takes place via ET200 modules located in the MCC panel connected to the PLCs via Profibus. Interface to selected process instruments also takes place via Profibus.

The server part of the control system is based on Wonderware System Platform and includes 4 servers running a Historian server and a redundant pair of Application Servers. For more information please refer to the below figure 1 showing the Automation Architecture.

Figure 1: Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Automation Architecture.

Figure 1: Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Automation Architecture.

The software part of the system is designed according to Arla Foods standards for PLC, HMI, Data collection, Recipe management, OEE and reporting. The control system structure follows the basic principles in the ISA S88 Batch Model. The MES application is S95 structured and designed according the latest international standards.

The plant is fully automatic and requires a minimum of operator interaction and the automatic sequences will control the process under full control system monitoring and supervision.

The PLC software is developed for control and monitoring of the individual plant units forming the entire Hydrolysates process. The software comprises modules for automatic control, regulation and monitoring of the plant as well as handling of operator interaction. The software is structured according to S88 and extensively tested and simulated to obtain optimal commissioning of the plant.

The software for automatic control of the process energises actuators, valves and pumps in a predetermined sequence hereby initiating the individual processes. The key components and process parameters are carefully monitored during process operation, including e.g. monitoring of states, pressures and temperatures. Alarm handling and logging includes alarm state, date and time. For quality purposes, process events are logged in a database inclusive of e.g. date, time, material, recipe number and production order.

The application software for the HMI/SCADA system is based on Arla Foods standards. The software is developed as user friendly graphics based operator pictures ensuring an efficient operator dialogue during operation as well as monitoring of the plant. Please refer to photo below showing the central control room.

The central control room.

The central control room.

The MES solution is based upon the platforms from SAP, Microsoft, Wonderware and Arla Foods, providing a fully documented and open standard platform, safeguarding the investment and ensuring straightforward future development of the plant. The SQL database is designed according to S95 forming the backbone for the required MES applications and reports.

The plant is running recipe controlled production based upon the use of Arla Foods recipe system RMS as well as integration with SAP production orders.

The collection of production data and associated reporting is based on the Arla Foods modules for data collection and reporting via MII.

The OEE functionality is based on the Arla Foods standard. The plant status is registered continuously e.g. machine error, line error, etc. and OEE reports are implemented via MII.

Implementation and Project Management of the AFI Hydrolysates Project

Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S.

Klaus Dam, Managing Director of Au2mate A/S.

The project was generally executed according to Au2mate QA manual complying with leading international standards and methodologies inclusive of development of test sheets for quality assurance.

The planning and coordination of the project was performed by an appointed project manager in close cooperation with the AFI organisation and the process contractors. The project manager also coordinated and organised the work in the dedicated Au2mate project group.

The software programming of the AFI Hydrolysates plant control and MES system was carried out on the basis of Functional Design Specifications (FDS) prepared by Au2mate and approved by the process contractors. The FDSs describe all sequences and Unit operations in detail.

The detailed software Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was carried out on the Au2mate premises prior to on-site tests. The FAT is introduced in order to ensure that as regards control, the plant operates according to the program description (FDS). The test was conducted in corporation with AFI, their representatives and the process contractors.

Training of the AFI staff was done in parallel with the project execution, in order to develop the skills required to operate, run and execute maintenance of the plant independently of external support.

Au2mateLogoJuly2016A simulation concept of the plant was created as part of the project. The concept was applied as a helping tool for the FAT as well as a training tool for training of plant operators and maintenance staff.

Key Project Learning Points

It has been a pleasure for Au2mate to act as a proactive automation supplier in the delivery of the control system for the AFI Hydrolysates factory. The project was successfully delivered on target for time, budget as well as quality.

From our perspective the goals were achieved due to clear project targets and project management by AFI, sufficient knowledgeable resources allocated to the project and excellent teamwork during the whole duration of the project between AFI and the vendors involved in the project.

 

 

 

Posted in Control & Automation, Ingredients, ProcessingComments Off on Au2mate Delivers the Fully Integrated Factory Automation System For the Arla Foods Ingredients Hydrolysates Factory

Hörmann UK – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

In the market for construction components, more and more gates, doors, frames and operators carry the Hörmann name, making Hörmann Europe’s leading provider of such products. This leadership of the family company has been attained through decades of continuous growth as a result of innovation, ensured quality and proximity to the customer.

Today, the Hörmann Group is run by the third and fourth generation, i.e. the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of company founder August Hörmann. Thomas J. Hörmann, Martin J. Hörmann, and Christoph Hörmann are the personally liable general partners. Hörmann (UK) Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hörmann KG.

First established in 1979 from a small industrial unit in Leicester. Hörmann UK’s continual growth meant that in 1993 we moved to new premises at Whetstone in Leicester. In 2000, due to increased growth, we moved into purpose built offices at our current location in Coalville, Leicestershire, giving us a footprint of 8000 square metres. In 2006 we built on remaining land, adding a further 3800 square metres of assembly/warehouse space and 200 square metres of office space. Providing a total building footprint of 12,000 square metres.

IMHX is the largest meeting place for the UK’s logistics industry. Next month over 20,000 logistics and supply chain professionals will gather to evaluate cutting edge technologies, explore the latest industry solutions and discuss how to increase efficiencies within supply chain operations.

IMHX 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 13th-16th September. Demand for stand space has been exceptional and IMHX 2016 will be the biggest and most comprehensive in the show’s history with over 400 exhibitors!

Posted in Control & Automation, End of Line, Industry, Logistics, Supply chain, Video, Video InterviewsComments Off on Hörmann UK – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Conveyor Systems Ltd – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Conveyor Systems Ltd offer an array of engineering expertise and a wealth of experience in materials handling solutions however complex, tailored to suit customer’s individual requirements in a wide range of industries.

At CSL we have a comprehensive range of conveyor equipment to provide complete automated turnkey materials handling systems, including design, installation and commissioning conveyors with integrated controls and software. We also incorporate full project management to co-ordinate our mechanical and electrical conveyor installation teams in-line with the customers overall project program.

CSL offer simple, high quality modular conveyors to integrate and interface with other OEM machinery such as packaging and label application machines, wrappers, palletisers and other associated equipment. This is often coupled with state of the art PLC/Computer based systems to integrate the operation whilst providing management data for traceability/logistics etc.

IMHX is the largest meeting place for the UK’s logistics industry. Next month over 20,000 logistics and supply chain professionals will gather to evaluate cutting edge technologies, explore the latest industry solutions and discuss how to increase efficiencies within supply chain operations.

IMHX 2016 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 13th-16th September. Demand for stand space has been exceptional and IMHX 2016 will be the biggest and most comprehensive in the show’s history with over 400 exhibitors!

Posted in Automation, Control & Automation, End of Line, Industry, Logistics, Materials Handling, Processing, Processing Equipment, Supply chain, Video, Video InterviewsComments Off on Conveyor Systems Ltd – IMHX 2016 – Exhibitor Profile

Road Map to the Smart Meat Factory

The key steps meat companies need to take to achieve a smart factory in line with Industry 4.0 will be the major focus of a series of Meat Business Days being held by food IT software specialist CSB-System in Karlsruhe, Germany from 12th – 16th September.

As well a series of presentations from industry experts from Fraunhofer IAO, Multivac and CSB-System, the event will also include tours of state-of-the art meat producers in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, each of whom has already taken great strides in becoming a smart meat factory.

The Meat Business Days event is dedicated to innovative technologies and solutions for meat production of the future.  The focus will be on software, automation and image processing solutions to make the digital transformation a successful one.

With business models, value-added chains, processes and consumer behaviour all becoming increasingly digitally connected, more efficient and more transparent, the event will examine which investments in digitalisation and automation are necessary to fully exploit the potential of the intelligent factory and the benefits these will bring to the meat industry.

For the factory tours, participants can choose to visit Wolf Wurstspezialitäten GmbH, EDEKA Südwest Fleisch GmbH or Fleischhof Rasting GmbH in Germany, ProMessa BV in the Netherlands; or Veviba S.A. in Belgium.

Detailed information on the Meat Business Days can be found at www.csb.com/meatbusinessdays.

Posted in Control & Automation, IT, ProcessingComments Off on Road Map to the Smart Meat Factory

Brexit – What Now For Scotch Whisky?

Since UK voters decided that the UK should leave the European Union, the Scotch Whisky Association has been busy consulting members on what that means for one of the country’s most significant industries and exporters. More than 90% of Scotch Whisky produced is sold outside the UK. Indeed, Scotch Whisky is the biggest single net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade in goods, and without this contribution the UK’s trade deficit would be over 10% larger.  Moreover, of the £3.8 billion worth of Scotch exported last year, £1.2 billion – almost a third of the total – was shipped to the EU.

So, as global traders, the industry is taking a very close interest in the arrangements for trade after Brexit.  The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has a wealth of knowledge and experience of EU and global trade and legal issues, built up over many years. It is ideally placed to advise on the post-Brexit options that will be best for the UK economy and its position on the world stage.Here the SWA sets out the potential consequences of Brexit for Scotch – including challenges and opportunities – and what action the industry wants to see from governments.1.  Certain things will not change, whatever the future arrangements:

  • Scotch Whisky will not face a tariff on exports to the EU.  0% is the current EU tariff and World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules mean it won’t change.
  • In many markets Scotch will also continue to benefit from existing zero tariffs, for example in the US, Canada, and Mexico, as these are offered to all countries already.  In many other markets that already demand high tariffs, for example India, Brexit will not make the situation any worse.
  • We will be able to protect Scotch Whisky across the EU and globally to the extent we can now, although the precise mechanisms for some markets will have to change, and we will have to put other measures in place to ensure continuity.

2.  Other things will definitely change:

  • As for other UK goods, there will be new administrative requirements (rules of origin) for exports to the EU.
  • The UK will eventually lose access to the EU’s Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Unless there are transitional arrangements, Scotch will lose significant tariff reductions in certain markets, notably Korea, South Africa, and Colombia and Peru. The UK will eventually need to negotiate its own FTAs or rely, as the EU largely does with most countries, on WTO rules.  This will take a major upgrade of capacity within the UK Government and can’t be done quickly.
  • We will no longer be subject to EU rules on excise duty or VAT.

3.  There are some major uncertainties:

  • The Government has not yet been clear whether it is looking for the UK to have EEA status, like Norway, or a more distant relationship based on a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, like Canada or Switzerland.  The key difference is that EEA status keeps most EU single market laws in force in the UK, at the price of accepting free movement and a budget contribution.   An FTA relationship means Britain would need its own rules in these areas.
  • The difference is crucial because many laws setting out the rules for Scotch and the food and drink sector generally are made at European level – for example rules on the definition of whisky, food labelling, bottle sizes, and so on.  If these laws are to be rewritten it will make Brexit more complicated and the industry will need to start planning now.
David Frost, chief executive of SWA.

David Frost, chief executive of SWA.

4.  So the Scotch Whisky industry priorities are as follows:

  • a UK trade policy that is as open and free trading as possible;
  • Broad clarity on the nature of the future arrangement that is sought with the EU, so we know how much new legislation to expect;
  • agreement with the EU on practical arrangements enabling us to export Scotch Whisky to and across Europe as simply as possible.  We will also need new UK legislation for customs enforcement and interception of counterfeit goods;
  • Existing FTAs’ provisions to be subject to transitional arrangements, or to be ‘grandfathered’ (ie continue application to the UK after Brexit). This will need an understanding with the EU and with the third countries concerned;
  • Over the medium term, UK development of its own network of trade agreements with non-EU countries;
  • reflection on a new excise duty regime that is fairer to Scotch Whisky and taxes alcohol more rationally across categories; and
  • No further burdens on business at such a sensitive time.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, says: “Scotch Whisky is one of the UK’s most successful exports. We are calling on the UK Government to bring clarity to the transition to Brexit as soon as possible, and to negotiate to ensure that the current open trading environment is not affected.  Finding practical ways forward on export practicalities and on free trade agreements should be high on the agenda as negotiations begin in the coming months. We plan to play an active role in influencing this whole process to ensure that Scotch remains a product enjoyed across the globe.”

Posted in Industry, News, RegulationsComments Off on Brexit – What Now For Scotch Whisky?

PA Helps Arthur Mallon Foods Increase Production Speeds

Arthur Mallon Foods is one of the leading Irish sausage producers, who have been creating award winning sausages since 1942 from County Monaghan.

The company needed to upgrade their top seal tray sealer and were looking for a machine that would offer an increase in output in line with their production target. Since the introduction of a PA tray sealer, Mallon Foods have been able to increase their production speeds by approximately 40%.

Apart from the increased production speeds, the PA tray sealer is a user friendly machine with much quicker tool changeovers.

Mallon Foods purchased a fully electric eclipse SL4 tray sealer which has been designed to address the environmental impact of packaging operations by reducing the user’s power consumption by up to 90%. The in-line, fully electric SL4 is a small footprint machine capable of sealing 75 packs per minute.

Featuring PA’s Powerdrive™ technology, the SL4 is a fully electric machine and operates without using any compressed air, therefore offering savings of up to 98% of the running costs of conventional pneumatically operated tray sealers. This enables food producers to demonstrate a real commitment to environmental issues, whilst delivering a competitive operating cost.

John Fyfe, Production Manager at Arthur Mallon Foods, comments: “The team at PA have been very easy to deal with, their response times and communication was excellent. PA actually installed the machine ahead of schedule. Since it`s installation, we have found the machine very easy to operate, very reliable with tool changeovers being achieved quickly.”

PA can offer customers a tray sealer or pot filler for a wide range of applications in the food industry including fresh produce packing such as salad, tomato, strawberry and soft fruit packing, fish, seafood, meat and chicken packing (including vacuum packing and skin packing), ready meal sealing and packing, and pot or tub denesting, filling and sealing for puddings and sauces.

Full packing lines can be specified and installed to include tray denesting, conveyoring, tray filling, film sealing including modified atmosphere packing (MAP) facilities. Foil tray sealing as well as plastic tray sealing can be accommodated on all machines as standard.

For further information Packaging Automation Ltd on Tel +44 (0)1565 755000 or visit www.pal.co.uk.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on PA Helps Arthur Mallon Foods Increase Production Speeds

Bakkavor Master Porridge Production with OAL Steam Infusion

OAL Steam Infusion Retrofit LanceBakkavor is using OAL’s Steam Infusion technology to manufacture porridge following the successful installation of the advanced heating and mixing process.

Research under a £1million Innovate UK project identified grain hydration as a hot spot for Steam Infusion due to the unique homogenising effect and elimination of burn-on contamination. Following successful trials, Steam Infusion was retrofitted to existing kettles; Janet Prescott, Manufacturing Manager at Bakkavor Meals, Spalding explains the benefits of Steam Infusion for manufacturing porridge:

“We are very happy with the retrofit of OAL’s Steam Infusion technology to manufacture porridge. We have been able to quickly master how to maximise the benefits of the Steam Infusion system and we’re confident that the technology offers the flexibility to cook a wide variety of products to delight our customers.”

“The system is very fast and has reduced our cooking energy consumption by 15%. It’s a quality piece of equipment that’s definitely “cook proof”. Since the installation, our engineering team haven’t had to touch the system.”

Steam Infusion is a form of direct steam injection whereby culinary grade steam is directly introduced into a liquid product, with or without particulates. A Vaction™ unit, mounted on a lance located within the vessel introduces steam into the product. Lances can be retrofitted to existing vessels dependant on the type of agitation in the vessel.

Steam is accelerated within the Vaction unit using a unique nozzle design that accelerates the steam to Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound). As this steam comes into contact with the product, it creates a large dispersion zone and partial vacuum due to the Venturi effect. The steam then condenses and flows out as a uniform product. The partial vacuum means the unit acts like a pump, so product is pushed out of the unit and replaced with product to be heated.

The technology’s ability to heat product quickly is demonstrated in a whitepaper comparing traditional technologies ability to heat water against Steam Infusion. The study found that Steam Infusion can be up to 3 times faster at heating 1,000kg of water from 20C to 70C, taking just under 4 minutes.

The partial vacuum and short residence time within the Vaction™ unit prevent the exposure of ingredients to excess temperatures in turn preventing product in contact with the kettle surface being burnt and affecting finished product flavour and visual quality. Traditionally easy to burn dairy based products taste fresher and are visually clearer.

Grain hydration and porridge manufacture is just one area that the technology has been scientifically proven to offer advantages to traditional processing. Other areas of interest include soups, sauces and ready meals. Trials can be conducted at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach UK. At the site OAL are also conducting research into cryogenic cooling and robotic chefs.

Posted in Engineering, Processing EquipmentComments Off on Bakkavor Master Porridge Production with OAL Steam Infusion

New Chief For British Frozen Food Federation

John Hyman (pictured right) has been selected to succeed Brian Young (pictured left) as chief executive of the British Frozen Food Federation. John Hyman, a highly experienced food industry professional, was previously UK group commercial director at Adelie Foods and has held senior roles at First Drinks, Dairy Crest, Heinz and Arla.

John Hyman comments: “I’m delighted to be joining such a dynamic and successful federation. The frozen food industry is a real success story. Every day of the week our members provide delicious, nutritious and affordable food to millions of consumers and diners in households and catering establishments across the UK. In the last decade, Brian and the BFFF team have developed the federation to become one of the leading trade associations in the food industry. I’m looking forward to building on that success and representing our members as effectively as possible.”

John Hyman will start on August 17 and work alongside Brian Young until he formally retires towards the end of 2016.

The search for a new chief executive was announced last November by BFFF president, Peter Allan, at the federation’s annual lunch.

Brian Young has been chief executive of the trade body for almost 10 years. In that time BFFF has increased its membership, modernised its structure and launched a range of new services including an annual business conference.

Posted in Appointments, IndustryComments Off on New Chief For British Frozen Food Federation

Prakash K. Iyengar appointed CEO of Ammeraal Beltech Group

Ammeraal Beltech, headquartered in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, is proud to announce the appointment of Mr. Prakash K. Iyengar as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 28th 2016.  Mr. Iyengar replaces interim CEO Sven Ruder.

Ammeraal has a proud tradition of innovation, service and customer intimacy established over 65 years serving customers in different markets globally. Mr. Iyengar will lead the company through its next phase of development,  driving growth and operating efficiency by further strengthening customer intimacy, deploying LEAN conversion and acquiring, retaining and developing organisational talent to deliver superior solutions and services to customers.

Prakash brings extensive leadership experiences to the role, having worked in various senior executive positions for some of the best global diversified companies in the world such as Danaher Corporation, Ingersoll Rand and 3M. He has a strong track record in driving growth and operating efficiency across diverse manufacturing businesses globally and has established a reputation as a catalyst for growth and organizational transformation by defining winning strategies, aligning talent, improving processes and driving execution.

Ammeraal Beltech is a global leader in the conveyor belting industry, with its products available in 150 countries.  It has 2400 employees worldwide and production plants in seven countries.

Posted in Industry, UncategorizedComments Off on Prakash K. Iyengar appointed CEO of Ammeraal Beltech Group

Prevent Burn-on Contamination with Steam Infusion

Image 1Burn-On is a term used in the food industry when a product sticks and subsequently starts to burn onto the side of the vessel. This is a constant issue for food manufacturers as it can affect the product taste, quality and appearance.

Steam Infusion from OAL can make burn-on a thing of the past, as it is designed to sit inside the vessel and cook by injecting high pressure food grade steam into the product. The solution has no moving parts or direct heat therefore burn-on is eliminated from the process.

Unlike most cooking vessels, which have large heated surface areas, Steam Infusion can ensure that the product is not tainted or contaminated. With the conventional method, surfaces that are usually scraped with an agitator can blend in the burnt area, producing contamination of brown specs. This can affecting the product taste and quality causing costly production wastage.

The OAL Steam Infusion unit produces high turbulence within the product which also acts as an agitator, homogeniser, heater, hydrator and pump. Heating speeds up the cooking process without the need to increase the heat.

Image 2The images shown represent the same cheese sauce, one made with Steam Infusion and the other without and it is clear to see the difference. The image to the left was made using a convention steam jacketed vessel and a scrape surface agitator which took 60 minutes to cook. The image on the right was made using Steam Infusion from OAL and took 20 minutes to cook with the agitator turned off. Both sauces were emptied from the vessel and an image immediately captured to show the variations between the methods.

It is not only the cooking that is positively affected by Steam Infusion but also the clean down after the product has left the vessel. The conventional steam jacketed vessel took 2 hours to clean with harsh chemicals whereas the Steam Infusion method was washed down with water in 15 minutes.

Posted in EngineeringComments Off on Prevent Burn-on Contamination with Steam Infusion

APRIL Robotic Chef to launch at University of Lincoln

APRIL robot with food basketRobotics and automation has prospered in many manufacturing industries but there has been limited progress in food production because of a lack of enabling technologies leading to islands of automation. When focusing on ready meal manufacturing, the finished product can often be over-processed and costly due to the inefficiencies of traditional cooking and processing methods.

OAL and the University of Lincoln and are delighted to announce the launch event for APRIL, a robotics and automation development set to change the way we manufacture food. The patented APRIL robotic chef developed by OAL, uses state of the art cooking and material handling technologies to process ingredients with real care on an industrial scale.

The event will be held on Thursday 28th April 2016 at the University of Lincoln’s Holbeach campus, the National Centre for Food Manufacturing.  Speakers include OAL, University of Lincoln and Kuka on the use of robotics in food manufacturing. The day will also include a full scale demonstration of the APRIL system, which includes a 5 tonne industrial robot recently installed at the test centre.

APRIL allows users to scale up how chefs prepare restaurant food using flexible robotic cells. Analysis of existing chilled food plants indicates a 7-14% bottom line improvement following adoption of the technology. The flexibility of the systems is critical in allowing soft reconfiguration to accommodate evolving consumer tastes. Previous attempts at achieving automation have often missed this key component resulting in costly white elephants.

For a real £19million turnover chilled food production business, in-depth modelling demonstrates annual savings of 8% savings (£1.5million) achieved (by order of importance) through labour, product losses, asset return, footprint reduction and energy. Upscaling the technology to the UK £10 Billion turnover convenience market would realise huge savings with further upsides of varying markets/ global opportunities.

Manufacturers will be able to improve product quality based on the ability to better emulate a chef. The APRIL robot chef doesn’t pump or pass product through pipework enhancing taste, flavour and particulate integrity.

Posted in Automation, IndustryComments Off on APRIL Robotic Chef to launch at University of Lincoln

Starch Europe Statement on EU-Vietnam FTA Negotiations

Starch Europe, the trade association which represents the interests of the EU starch industry both at European and international level, has welcomed the fact that the Commission has taken into account the sensitivities of EU starch producers in its negotiations with Vietnam.

“We particularly welcome the fact that the quota for all sensitive starch products, except native tapioca starch, has been kept to 2,000 tonnes,” says Jamie Fortescue, Managing Director of Starch Europe. “We are concerned however about the 30,000 tonnes duty free quota which has been agreed for native tapioca starch.”

StarchEuropeLogoNative tapioca starch is a direct competitor to EU native potato starch. The EU market for native potato starch is approximately 400,000 tonnes. The quota allowed for Vietnamese native tapioca starch therefore represents approximately 8% of the market. This quota is on top of the TRQ of 10 000 tonnes for native tapioca starch from Thailand and the TRQ of 10 500 tonnes for native tapioca starch from the rest of the world.

Jamie Fortescue continues: “As the Commission is well aware, the EU potato starch sector is going through a difficult transition period since the end of coupled support in 2012. We very much hope that this draft agreement with Vietnam will not act as a precedent for ongoing FTA negotiations with other tapioca starch producing third countries (notably Thailand).”

Posted in Agriculture, Industry, NewsComments Off on Starch Europe Statement on EU-Vietnam FTA Negotiations

APRIL robotic system to transform food manufacturing

APRIL robotic system to transform food manufacturingA Peterborough based engineering business is transforming the food manufacturing industry thanks to further funding from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

OAL has received a £60,000 grant to develop an automated food manufacturing processes using robotic ‘chefs’ to boost production, efficiency, and improve the quality of food produced.

OAL identified a gap in the market to make food production more efficient by introducing robotics into the manufacturing process; to date there has been little progress in automating food manufacturing in this area due to the lack of enabling technology.

With the funding, OAL will design and manufacture APRIL (Automated Processing Robotic Ingredient Loading) patented technology; a fully automated robotic system that can mix, load and cook ingredients in a manner similar to professional chefs yet on an industrial scale.

Not only will the technology be more efficient than traditional, manual cooking processes, the automated production will help to lower costs and reduce food wastage, and free up space on the factory floor.

APRIL will enable OAL to become UK leader in food manufacturing, increasing growth and job opportunities for the company; reinforcing the East of England’s reputation for innovation.

Mark Reeve, Chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “OAL is transforming the food manufacturing industry through their technology. The APRIL system will kick-start the industry’s move towards fully automated production lines, allowing food to be produced quicker, with less waste and greater precision.

“I’m pleased to be able to support OAL with additional funding from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and look forward to seeing the business grow further thanks to the help from the LEP.”

Harry Norman, Managing Director of OAL, said: “Winning the grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative involved presenting to an expert panel who assessed our revolutionary robotic technology. The expert’s feedback, encouragement and 100% backing was really appreciated by the OAL team and gave us all a big lift.”

The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative is run by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.

Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the application and commercialisation of Research and Development.

Posted in Food equipment, IndustryComments Off on APRIL robotic system to transform food manufacturing

Leveraging Public R&D for the Benefit of Industry: The Case of Food – Tuesday, 24th November, 2015

Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority, is holding a symposium on technology transfer on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 at the Round Room at the Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland. The aim of this event is to highlight how important science-based innovation is to the growth of the food sector.

The symposium will explore international best practice in technology transfer, challenges and opportunities including organisational structures, processes, and policies related to technology transfer, and the application of these learnings to the food sector.

It will provide an opportunity for all interested stakeholders to engage with one another to ensure that technology transfer within Ireland is progressed and applied successfully for the development of innovation within the Irish Food Sector.

PROGRAMME

9.00 am – Registration and Tea/Coffee
10.00 am – Opening
RDI as a key driver for growth in the Irish food sector
Dr. Frank O’Mara, Director of Research, Teagasc, Ireland

Challenges in commercialising public sector research
Prof. James Cunningham, Professor of Strategic Management, Newcastle Business School, United Kingdom

11.00 am – International Examples of Best Practice: Lessons to be Learned for the Food Sector
Commercialising RPO research and innovation: A US university perspective
Lesley Millar-Nicholson, Director of the Office of Technology Management, University of Illinois, United States

European Key Enabling Technologies (KETs): Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP)
Dr. Lieve Hoflack, Project Manager, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plan, Belgium

Identifying opportunities and building cooperation between innovation leaders
Rhonda Smith, Strategist and Trainer External Relations & Media Communications, Minerva Communications UK Ltd., United Kingdom

12.30 pm – Lunch

1.15 pm – Enhancing Framework Conditions for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
The framework conditions conducive to effective technology transfer
Dr. Mario Cervantes, Senior Economist and Head of Secretariat for the OECD’s Working Party on Innovation and Technology Policy, OECD, France

Strengthening Ireland’s market insights-driven research capacity
Dr. Christian Stafford, Research & Innovation Division, Enterprise Ireland, Ireland

Combined innovation policy: Linking scientific and practical knowledge in innovation systems
Prof. Magnus Nilsson, Associate Professor at the Department of Business Administration and Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), Lund University, Sweden

2.15 pm – Challenges, Appropriate Channels and Food Industry Innovation Needs
Knowledge transfer channels most appropriate for the food sector
Dr. Kerstin Lienemann, Head of the Brussels’ Office of the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL), Belgium

Building effective public and private collaborations
Dr. Ann Schmierer, Director for Industry Partnering, Oregon State University, United States

Technology transfer in the Irish food sector: The Teagasc story
Declan Troy, Director of Technology and Knowledge Transfer for the Food Programme, Teagasc, Ireland

Innovation needs of the food sector
Declan McDonnell, R&D Manager, ABP Food Group, Ireland

3.35 pm – Panel Discussion: Lessons for the Irish Food Sector
Panellists: Richard Howell (Head of Research & Codex Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine), Dr. Mary Shire (Vice President Research, University of Limerick), Colin Gordon, Chair of Food and Drink Industries Ireland and member of the Consumer Foods Board of Bord Bia
4.30pm – Conference Close

Posted in Agriculture, Industry, Research & DevelopmentComments Off on Leveraging Public R&D for the Benefit of Industry: The Case of Food – Tuesday, 24th November, 2015

JBT Corporation to showcase Stork additions at Gulfood Manufacturing 2015

JBT@Gulfood_ManufacturingJBT, the global specialist in innovative technologies for food and beverage manufacturers will bring its most complete range yet of solutions for fruit, juice and dairy processors to this year’s Gulfood Manufacturing show, including new additions to its range.

As well as showcasing all its business units active in food processing – including in-container filling, closing, sterilization, and fruit and juice processing – JBT will be using the event, which takes place in Dubai’s World Trade Centre from 27-29 October, to feature its latest acquisitions.

Prominent among these is Netherlands-based Stork Food & Dairy Systems, which officially became
part of JBT on August 3 this year.

A major European filling and sterilization solutions specialist, Stork Food & Dairy Systems designs,
manufactures and supplies market-leading integrated aseptic processing and sterilization technologies, and filling systems, to beverage and food processing companies worldwide.

Stork specializes in extending the shelf life of packaged foods found in supermarkets and restaurants
around the world, including standard and flavored milk, coffee drinks, cream, yogurt, desserts, fruit
juices, soups and sauces.

Complete processing solution

Already having a considerable installed base in the Middle East region, JBT will be using its presence
at Gulfood Manufacturing to both meet existing clients to hear about ongoing developments and meet
potential new contacts, said JBT’s MarCom Coordinator for the EMEA region, Patrick Schoenaers.
He said: “JBT is offering an ever more complete processing solution for a broad range of applications.
“JBT equipment is perfectly geared to specific products, production facilities and regional market
requirements, allowing food processors to stay ahead of their competition.

“With the Stork Food & Dairy acquisition, JBT has broadened its offer to a complete aseptic line for
dairy and juices from primary processing, in flow sterilization over aseptic bottle blow molder to
aseptic filling.”

About JBT Corporation

JBT Corporation is a leading global technology solutions provider to the food processing and air
transportation industries. The company designs, manufactures, tests and services technologically sophisticated systems and products for regional and multi-national industrial food processing customers through its JBT FoodTech segment and for domestic and international air transportation customers through its JBT AeroTech segment.

JBT Corporation employs approximately 3,600 people worldwide and operates sales, service,
manufacturing and sourcing operations located in over 25 countries.

Posted in EngineeringComments Off on JBT Corporation to showcase Stork additions at Gulfood Manufacturing 2015

British Poultry Industry Continues Strong Growth

The British poultry meat industry’s contribution to UK GDP has increased by 9% over the last year, up from £3.3 billion to £3.6 billion, according to a new analysis by Oxford Economics. ‘Economic Impact of the British Poultry Meat Industry 2015’, commissioned by the British Poultry Council, tracks the growth of the industry over the past year. Compared to last year, UK sales have increased in value by 13%, up from £6.1bn to £6.9bn, with exports also up 6.6% from £286m to £305m.

The increase in production is good news for UK plc. Contribution to UK GDP is up, and tax receipts are up by 10%, £1.1 billion compared to £1billion. The number of jobs the industry supports has also increased by more than 8%. The industry now employs 79,300, compared to just 73,200 a year ago, both directly and through its wider supply chain.

BritishPoultryCouncilLogoBPC chief executive Andrew Large comments: “Our annual report is a timely reminder of the importance of the poultry meat industry to UK plc, supporting tens of thousands of jobs and contributing £ billions to UK GDP. We are delighted the industry keeps going from strength to strength.”

He continues: “There are significant opportunities in both domestic and export markets and we look forward to working with government to realise these potential opportunities. Key to catering to this demand will be the industry’s ability to upgrade its capital assets. That’s why we have written to the Chancellor and asked him to consider maintaining the annual capital investment allowance in plant and machinery at its current level as part of his Summer Budget next week. We appreciate there are many demands on public finances, but this would make a huge difference to the industry and help it increase its contribution to UK GDP even further.”

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Bosch Launches New Robotic Packaging Portfolio

Bosch Packaging Technology, a leading supplier of robotic technology for primary and secondary packaging solutions, has fully redesigned its Delta robotic packaging portfolio to give food producers more versatility and performance. Based on an open frame platform featuring the latest GD series Delta robot, the new portfolio offers modular and standardized robotic solutions with application-specific options. Bosch’s enhanced D3 robotic platform handles higher payloads up to three kilograms and ensures faster speeds to increase pick rates. Designed for quick changeovers, simplified use and maintenance, it allows manufacturers to achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a shorter return on investment (ROI) period.

“With the launch of the D3 robotic platform we offer a highly versatile portfolio of primary and secondary packaging solutions. The new modular and scalable design enables multiple robot solutions by combining standard machine modules. Through increased modularity Bosch demonstrates its commitment to engineering customer-focused technologies that enhance productivity, reduce TCO and enable a faster time to market,” says Marc de Vries, sales director, Bosch Packaging Technology. “Combined with added flexibility, the platform helps our customers leverage robotic automation to generate competitive advantage.”

Broader application range enhances versatility

The D3 platform includes several features that improve packaging efficiency and enable manufacturers to meet the growing demand for diverse products, such as biscuits, cereal bars, chocolate, confectionery treats, baked goods and vertically packaged products. “Many customers look for robotic packaging equipment that can handle a great variety of products on the same machine,” says Marc de Vries. “By increasing performance, payload capability and working volume height as well as offering optional fourth and fifth axes for improved product rotation, we have significantly extended the application range.”

With the industry-leading Gemini 4.0 Delta robot controller and software new product formats can be simulated offline without the need for physical products, reducing set-up and installation times. The simplified platform design also promotes faster changeovers and ease of use.

Easier cleaning leads to greater food safety

Another advantage of the D3 platform is the hygienic and open frame design with fewer parts and better visibility of moving elements which helps manufacturers comply with increasingly stringent food safety regulations. The control cabinets are positioned on top of the machines, enabling operator access from both the front and rear, which reduces cleaning and maintenance times.

Fully modular to increase manufacturing flexibility

Being a part of Bosch’s Module++ single-source provider concept for simple and modular line automation, D3 robotic solutions can be easily integrated with both Bosch and third-party primary or secondary packaging machines. The D3 platform has been designed to increase flexibility for small- and medium-sized as well as multinational companies. The new portfolio offers flexible and scalable robotic solutions that allow customers to adjust quickly to current production needs and to reach future manufacturing goals.

Bosch Packaging Technology, a leading supplier of robotic technology for primary and secondary packaging solutions, has fully redesigned its Delta robotic packaging portfolio to give food producers more versatility and performance. Based on an open frame platform featuring the latest GD series Delta robot, the new portfolio offers modular and standardized robotic solutions with application-specific options. Bosch’s enhanced D3 robotic platform handles higher payloads up to three kilograms and ensures faster speeds to increase pick rates. Designed for quick changeovers, simplified use and maintenance, it allows manufacturers to achieve a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and a shorter return on investment (ROI) period.

“With the launch of the D3 robotic platform we offer a highly versatile portfolio of primary and secondary packaging solutions. The new modular and scalable design enables multiple robot solutions by combining standard machine modules. Through increased modularity Bosch demonstrates its commitment to engineering customer-focused technologies that enhance productivity, reduce TCO and enable a faster time to market,” says Marc de Vries, sales director, Bosch Packaging Technology. “Combined with added flexibility, the platform helps our customers leverage robotic automation to generate competitive advantage.”

Broader application range enhances versatility

The D3 platform includes several features that improve packaging efficiency and enable manufacturers to meet the growing demand for diverse products, such as biscuits, cereal bars, chocolate, confectionery treats, baked goods and vertically packaged products. “Many customers look for robotic packaging equipment that can handle a great variety of products on the same machine,” says Marc de Vries. “By increasing performance, payload capability and working volume height as well as offering optional fourth and fifth axes for improved product rotation, we have significantly extended the application range.”

With the industry-leading Gemini 4.0 Delta robot controller and software new product formats can be simulated offline without the need for physical products, reducing set-up and installation times. The simplified platform design also promotes faster changeovers and ease of use.

Easier cleaning leads to greater food safety

Another advantage of the D3 platform is the hygienic and open frame design with fewer parts and better visibility of moving elements which helps manufacturers comply with increasingly stringent food safety regulations. The control cabinets are positioned on top of the machines, enabling operator access from both the front and rear, which reduces cleaning and maintenance times.

Fully modular to increase manufacturing flexibility

Being a part of Bosch’s Module++ single-source provider concept for simple and modular line automation, D3 robotic solutions can be easily integrated with both Bosch and third-party primary or secondary packaging machines. The D3 platform has been designed to increase flexibility for small- and medium-sized as well as multinational companies. The new portfolio offers flexible and scalable robotic solutions that allow customers to adjust quickly to current production needs and to reach future manufacturing goals.

Posted in Control & Automation, PackagingComments Off on Bosch Launches New Robotic Packaging Portfolio

Exhibitors Quick to Sign Up for Lab Innovations 2015

More than 100 industry leading suppliers have already booked stands for Lab Innovations 2015, which returns to Birmingham’s NEC on 4 & 5 November 2015. These suppliers have been quick to show support for the UK’s only show dedicated to the latest laboratory technology and consumables, analytics and biotech equipment.

Those registered for the show include an array of first time exhibitors, including Scientific Laboratory Supplies, Bambi Air Compressors, Falcon Scientific, Radleys, Ohaus and Zinsser Analytic. These will  join major returning names such as Anton Paar, Buchi UK, Mettler Toledo, Oxford Biosystems Cadama, Retsch UK, Sympatec and Vacuubrand.

Innovation will take centre stage, with numerous exhibitors using the show to launch new products and services to the laboratory market. For instance Asynt will be showcasing its Asynt CondenSyn, which is its new high performance air condenser. It is designed specifically for synthetic chemistry experiments and requires no cooling water. The robust design uses a new borosilicate glass manufacturing technique, together with a proprietary multiple hyperbolic profile, ensuring optimum heat removal as vapours pass along its length.

Bosch Packaging Technology will be presenting its Manesty Xpress 100, which is a compact and mobile rotary tablet press, designed for research, development and small clinical batches. Mounted on castors, it permits mobility throughout different laboratory rooms with its ‘plug and play’ capability. The optional data acquisition software provides the opportunity to evaluate new tablet formulations, whilst its range of flexible turret options ensures the production of clinical trial batches.

LabInnovationsLogoJune2015The QCL Scientific stand will feature two new products. It will be presenting its new FoodLab Touch range of benchtop analysers, which provide a fast, simple and reliable analysis of multiple parameters in a variety of food and beverage products. It will also be showcasing its Zeutec SpectraAlyzer 2.0, which is its latest range of benchtop NIR analysers, delivering cost effective measurements of major quality parameters in food, beverage and agricultural products. The range is easy to operate and features a touch screen interface, which is compact and robust, so it can be used close to the production line, in environments with fluctuating temperatures, vibration and dust.

Bibby Scientific will be using the show to highlight its range of benchtop equipment and lab products. It will be showcasing its Stuart range of heating blocks, which have been developed to provide the best possible solution for heating round bottom flasks. These will run alongside its ranges of electromantles, conductivity meters and spectrophotometers.

Spectronic Camspec will be displaying its analytical instruments including its Food Texture Analysers, UV/VIS Spectrophotometers, FTIR Spectrophotometers, Mercury Analysers, Polarimeters, Refractometers, Flame Photometers and its comprehensive range of Electrochemical instrumentation for all laboratories.

Industry leaders, Anton Paar, will be using the show to demonstrate its Abbemat, which is a digital refractometer, allowing fast and non-destructive refractive index measurements. Also on display will be its automatic Cleveland Open Cup (COC), a solution for investigating oxidation stability – RapidOxy and its Modular Compact Rheometer Series.

Katie Crocombe, Lab Innovations Event Manager comments: “We are pleased to have so many exhibitors already signed up for the 2015 show. With over 100 suppliers getting behind the show, we can feel the momentum really starting to build, even though we still have five months to go! We have more innovation on the show floor than ever; I would say we are going to be bursting at the seams when it comes time to open the doors.”

More than just an exhibition, Lab Innovations 2015 will boast a packed conference programme, with two theatres providing valuable, educational and inspirational content. The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Campden BRI will once again both be running top flight conference programmes, with big name speakers to be unveiled closer to the show.

Lab Innovations 2015 will be held on the 4 & 5 November 2015 at Birmingham’s NEC. For more information please visit www.lab-innovations.com or to find out about exhibiting contact please contact Mauricio Montes on 020 8843 8829 or email mauricio.montes@easyfairs.com.

Posted in Conferences & Exhibitions, Food Safety, Laboratory EquipmentComments Off on Exhibitors Quick to Sign Up for Lab Innovations 2015

Load This in One Shot in 7 Minutes!

Joloda International have recently installed a new fully automatic loading system for food giant PepsiCo to move 42 pallets of potato crisps, into a 25.25m road train in 1 load and also loads 26 pallets into a 13.6m vehicle. Where this loading process was completed by forklift truck, the automatic loading process now creates a time saving of 30 minutes per vehicle, down to 7 minutes for the road train and 6 minutes for the 13.6m vehicle.

In the world of fast-moving consumer goods, speed is the most important factor. This drives the continued pursuit of ever-increasing business process automation. In the area of logistics, Joloda helps customers, including those in the food and drink industry, achieve the full potential of the just-in-time philosophy. Sales director Wouter Satijn, explains: “We develop complete loading and unloading systems for our customers. We not only have the knowledge to bring together and install the technology, we also have our own production facilities in Liverpool and North Wales.”

Prestigious Project

One of the most prestigious projects Joloda have delivered is the fully automated loading and unloading system at PepsiCo in Broek op Langedijk (NL).

The 25m road train consists of an 8.2 metre long trailer in front and a 13.3 metre long trailer at the rear. The bi-folding doors at the back of the front trailer are swung open, as are the doors at the front and back ends of the long trailer. The front trailer is then backed up tight against the rear trailer. This results in a cargo tunnel 21.5 metres long, capable of holding 42 pallets. “Now all the driver has to do is attach a cable to his truck to establish a connection with the control system,” explains Wouter Satijn. “Then he can take a coffee break, because our automatic loading system does the rest.”

Joloda1June2015Wouter Satijn explains how it works: “On the roller conveyor we group the pallets in three sections of 16, 10 and then another 16 pallets. As soon as the overhead door on the dock opens, a platform with two laser scanners is lowered from above. We use these scanners to make sure the truck is not positioned at too much of an angle and to measure the depth of the trailer. This distance measurement is necessary because the dock is not only used for road trains but also for ordinary 13.6 metre trailers. The reason for this is that Kuehne + Nagel want to be able to decide up to the last moment whether, by chance, they have an empty trailer in the neighbourhood that can pick up a load from Broek op Langedijk.”

Wouter Satijn continues: “If the laser scanners measure a distance of 13.3 metres, then 16 plus 10 pallets can be slid into the trailer. At 21.5 metres, all 42 pallets can be placed in the cargo tunnel of the road train, both loaded from the same dock!”

Wouter Satijn says that the logistic case at PepsiCo is exceptional in terms of more than just technology: “Just looking at the ROI you can see that the investment pays for itself in less than 18 months! And keep in mind: the system will still be operational in twenty years.” Another benefit Wouter Satijn points out is the achieved space savings: “There is no way around it: forklifts simply require a lot of space. Our system is significantly more compact. The customer can use the remaining space for other purposes. And don’t forget the safety aspect: our fully automatic system significantly improves occupational health and safety. After all, there are no longer any hands or forklifts involved in the logistic process.”

Green Aspect

The green aspect of the system also played a role in the choice for the Joloda system, stresses Wouter Satijn: “Many automatic loading and unloading systems make use of chains. That makes the trailers even heavier. Our solution, utilizing a pneumatic riser-plate system, keeps the trailers light. An additional advantage of the trailers is that they are also easily accessible for forklifts. All you have to do is ensure the riser-plates are raised, and the forklifts can drive in and out of the trailer as if it had a flat floor. This means the trailers are suitable for multi-purpose use, which is important to the carrier.”

This system has to be seen to be believed! – watch on YouTube –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj9XHKDsqD8.

Posted in Control & Automation, LogisticsComments Off on Load This in One Shot in 7 Minutes!

Rocla’s Automation Solution For Valio

Valio, Finland’s biggest milk processor and the national market leader in dairy products, has chosen Rocla’s automated guided vehicles for its cheese factories in Finland. In these locations, more than 250 million litres of milk are processed annually. The AGVs handle the routine pallet transfers from production to preparation for shipping.

The Rocla AGVs feature Valio’s product brands as design covers. These AGVs have been in full action for more than a year now. Valio logistics manager Tiina Kujala is very pleased with the new way of working.

Work Safety

“Before, same pallet transfers were handled by human-operated trucks. The premises are often very confined, and distances are not that great. The work itself caused stress to employees and a challenge in work safety,” recalls Tiina Kujala.

Rocla1May2015Pallets are loaded with products at intervals of only a few minutes. In order to keep the production line running smoothly, the full pallets need to be transported right away for shipment. In the past, the drivers had to be ready all the time to move the full pallets to shipment preparation. “We were wondering why a good employee should have to handle this kind of boring work phase. We wanted to find a new solution for this,” explains factory manager Heikki Makela.

The Challenge

Heikki Makela contacted Rocla, who took up this challenge. Rocla’s professionals examined the situation and the customer needs, coming up with an optimal automation solution to replace the old way of working. The vehicles are equipped with tilting forks. This makes it possible to load and unload from gravity conveyors.

In addition, the vehicles are equipped with barcode scanners that can later be updated to operate as RFID readers. The delivery also includes the Rocla MetRo warehouse management system (WMS), which controls the warehouse and gets deliveries to the right place at the right time. The inventories are always up to date.

Rocla2May2015Fulfilled Expectations

The Rocla AGVs have fulfilled expectations. Personnel have been very positive about the automation. It has increased work safety at the factory: thanks to the safety equipment and sensors, there are no collisions or damaged products anymore. Using the AGVs is also easy.

“All of the production personnel participated in the basic training, and a few people were trained as main users. In the beginning, Rocla’s 24/7 help desk was in use, but for quite some time the automation system has been running on its own very nicely,” compliments Tiina Kujala.

The factory manager is proud of the added image value with the Rocla AGVs. “For example, our American colleagues and other visitors have noticed the new AGVs right away – many of them are still using old technology for these transfers,” Heikki Makela says.

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End-of-line Productivity With Some Extra Flavour

Manna Foods is a producer of savoury sauces and employs 70 people. It is a family owned business, and although relatively small, they are extremely successful in what they do with a no-nonsense approach to business. Manna Foods choose carefully which products in the market most suit their production methods to ensure what they produce, is produced in the most efficient way. However this business philosophy requires flexibility, particularly at the end of the packing line.

Manna Foods chose CSi’s i-Pal for their end of line palletising and achieved a 9 month payback! This helped them to stay ahead of their competitors, and due to the good experience they had with their first palletiser, they decided to buy a second one for one of their other lines.

CSI1November2014The i-Pal, although a sophisticated robot palletising system, is a low cost solution with the following significant benefits:

  1. A flexible multi-use unit which fits into many environments. Almost 150 i-Pals have been installed already in a wide variety of businesses. Having achieved significant sales volume of the i-Pal CSi are constantly lowering their prices.
  2. The i-Pal is easy to install and commission allowing the benefits of automatic palletising to be achieved within a very short time period.
  3. The i-Pal is assembled and tested in Romania, and is installed and commissioned by Romanian CSi specialists making it possible to keep the i-Pal as low cost as possible whilst maintaining CSi’s extremely high quality standards.

CSIForkliftNovember2014One of the challenges CSi faced on this project is that Manna Foods have a large range of pallets. The i-Pal is flexible enough to overcome these challenges. Empty and full pallets are transported to and from the i-Pal with a forklift truck. Manna Foods has up to 12 different pallet patterns which was no problem for the i-Pal as some additional software programming solved this. Manna Foods are also able to adjust pallet patterns themselves.

Due to the short payback period predicted, Manna Foods decided to purchase the i-Pal.  However the i-Pal is also available for lease, or even on short-term rent. This spreads the investment load and enables the financial benefit of automatic palletising to be realised almost immediately. Manna Foods have a skilled and pragmatic maintenance department who after a short period of training were operating and supporting the i-Pal without any interruptions or stoppages. Manna Foods decided not to purchase any spare parts as they were so confident in the technology they had purchased.

Benefits

  • High stacks (2.5 m); not possible by hand
  • Pay-back time was shorter than 9 months
  • Unwrapped pallets in container because of high stacking accuracy and stable stacks.

It is important not to forget the operators who play a vital role in the success of any automated project. Once trained, the operators quickly gained the confidence to put the i-Pal robot cell into full production. The simplicity of the i-Pal machine and its intuitive operator panel makes the job a lot easier.

For more information contact CSi industries BV – Raamsdonksveer, the Netherlands – www.CSiportal.com, E-mail: info@CSiportal.com, Tel +31 (0)162 575 000.

Posted in Control & Automation, End of LineComments Off on End-of-line Productivity With Some Extra Flavour

Chocs Away at Barry Callebaut

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest manufacturer of cocoa and chocolate products, recognised that a significant increase in operational efficiencies could be achieved through the installation of a robotic palletising system at its Banbury plant in England.

The company had recently initiated a major investment programme, in line with its ‘cost leadership’ strategy pillar, across all areas of its manufacturing process to deliver an increase in capacity and optimise production flow. To further improve efficiencies, a three phase investment over two years was now planned for the palletising area with the implementation of a fully integrated robotic solution to an existing line.

The new system was required to provide greater flexibility and reliability, utilise limited floor area, simplify operational procedures and reduce maintenance costs. In addition, it would have to overcome the challenges of picking up multiple sizes of boxes (between 10kg and 25kg), increased cycle rates and be fully compliant with the company’s stringent health and safety disciplines.

Barry Callebaut commissioned CKF Systems of Gloucester as its project partner to design, build and install an integrated robotic palletising system within its manufacturing plant.

“We were impressed by work CKF had recently undertaken for a major confectionary brand,” explains Barnz Parkin, Project Management Engineer, Barry Callebaut. “We spoke to the project manager, who has a wealth of experience and we regard highly and he provided a sound endorsement; a good partner, talented, flexible and reliable. We looked at nine different organisations, only CKF demonstrated a complete understanding of our situation and submitted a working solution that would improve our capabilities in line with budget and expectations. It was a major undertaking for the business and therefore essential that we made the right decision.”

The initial project is designed around a single robot cell but with the ability to palletise three different SKU’s at the same time. The cell, incorporating an ABB IRB 660 with a bespoke gripper, has been designed by CKF. It utilises 3D Inventor and Robot Studio simulation to ensure the full range of case sizes, weights and configurations can be handled and are able to pick layer sheets. The case feed system comprises a high level interface complete with divert station and bar code detection, to direct the flow of designated cases to the robot cell and separate in to three defined collation stations. Each station incorporates an identical conditioning section to orientate and collate the cases into defined rows and counts for the robot pick to create the pallet pattern. A dedicated pallet load station is positioned at the end of each collation station and the cell also includes two separate layer sheet feed sections to handle both Chep and Euro pallet sized sheets.

The overall system includes two dedicated pallet denesters, i.e. Chep and Euro, loaded pallet discharge station and twin shuttle car. The shuttle car arrangement is designed to receive individual pallets, on demand, from the designated denester and deliver to the relevant pallet load station at start of production. The shuttle is also designed to receive and exchange both loaded and empty pallets, with the loaded pallets delivered to the unload station before the car returns to the denester stations to collect the next pallet. The final configuration of the system includes provision for the introduction of a second robot cell and a fully automatic spiral wrapping machine.

The complete operation is fully contained within a guard enclosure incorporating strategically positioned light beams, roller shutter door and interlocks to meet the very highest safety standards with zoned safety areas to maximise overall system efficiency.

Posted in Control & Automation, End of LineComments Off on Chocs Away at Barry Callebaut

Fast Response from UK Company to Help Save Lives in Iraq

2 days ago UK based engineering firm Olympus Automation (OAL) were approached by the president of Azersun, the leading food producer in Azerbaijan, for a rapid cooking system to feed refugees in Northern Iraq. The president was so appalled by the plight of the refugees stuck on mount Sinjar he has chosen to fund the equipment himself.
Time is clearly of the essence and managing director, Harry Norman, of OAL has been quick to respond and a system will be shipped in record time next week. Norman, states:
“Normally systems take 24 weeks to manufacture, but this is clearly not a normal situation, lives are at stake and we will be able to deliver a Steam Infusion cooking system in a week. Steam Infusion is 4 times faster than traditional processes making the equipment ideal for feeding lots of people, hence the call from the president.”
OAL will be flying application specialist Stuart Rigby to an undisclosed location in Turkey to provide training on the system before it is deployed in Northern Iraq.
OAL are supplying a simple cooking system based on its revolutionary Steam Infusion technology to make lentil soups, rice and provide a clean source for drinking and washing water. The cooking system uses will use Steam Infusion, OAL’s revolutionary heating and mixing process to make 4,000 portions of hot food an hour.
Follow us on Twitter, @OALgroup

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FANUC to Showcases Widest Range of Food Handling Robots – PPMA Show, Hall 5, Stand C50

Showcasing five different food handling robots, FANUC will present their biggest selection ever at a PPMA show this year. IP67 and IP69K certified robots, will perform palletising and food packing assembly tasks. Delta and articulated arm robots will show high levels of dexterity when handling unpackaged and packaged foods at speeds of up to 180 picks per minute. As well as the robot arms, attendees will see a variety of end-effector tools including vacuum and gripper style which will effectively pick and place the most delicate of products.

Robots in action include a cell combining two robots, an M3 delta style system and a M430 articulated arm robot, which will pick biscuits and place them into blister packs. Following on from this an articulated arm LR Mate 200iD will pack the blister packs into retail trays. To represent packing further down the production line, two palletising robots, a FANUC M710iC/50 and an M410-iC/185, will demonstrate palletising of both trays and bulk bags.

Worker safety is a prime consideration so FANUC will also demonstrate its Dual Check Safety (DCS) Position & Speed Check software – a package of safety options integrated into FANUC’s R30iA and R30iB robot controllers to ensure safe monitoring of robot position and speed.

CAPTION:

FANUC’s M430 articulated arm robot will load biscuits into blister trays with repeatable accuracy at the PPMA Show.

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Making baked products manufacturing fit for the future: Productivity and efficiency through data transparency

Pressure on prices is rising in the bakery market. Of particular concern is the increasing pressure from the discounters who are competing with cheap products baked freshly in store. At the same time, productivity and profit margins are low in the food processing industry in comparison to other producing industries. Above all small and medium-sized operations are facing the challenge of competing in price terms with the discounter and supermarket offers manufactured largely on automated monolines. To stay competitive in the long term, operations are increasingly looking for opportunities to increase efficiency in production while at the same time reducing energy consumption. Reliable characteristics and the collection and accurate analysis of process and production-related data provide the necessary transparency.

Status quo with potential
Small-scale operations or franchise bakeries which supply up to 200 outlets in their vicinity produce several products on one line. The automation potential of such bakeries is high, but is frequently underestimated or considered too expensive. However to increase productivity and minimise manufacturing costs, it is necessary to exploit precisely this potential. Those wishing to hold onto market access must act to modernise production. Sticking conservatively to old methods and ignoring automation technology is a mistake if an operation intends to remain viable in the long term. The intelligent use of automation components can make a decisive contribution to securing the competitiveness of a company. Automation suppliers and machine builders therefore need to appeal to end customers for technical understanding and an open attitude toward technological innovations. 
Historically, small- and medium-sized operations perform the different process steps of bread making, such as kneading, proving and baking, independently. However, Overall Equipment Effectiveness can be significantly increased simply by networking various isolated solutions with the help of effective and cost-effective standard automation technologies. Bottlenecks, weaknesses, cost drivers, waiting times or item costs can be precisely defined and energy consumptions precisely assigned. The data from a networked, integrated system can be used to optimise processes such as oven-loading schedules or determine varieties and quantities per unit of time. This information can then be used to process and define processes and procedures.

Transparent production
Bakeries frequently suffer from significant discrepancies between financial planning and reality. Transparency is contributed to by collecting actual production data including changeover times and other manual processes and producing realistic form factors. Transparency is also a prerequisite for continuous improvement in terms of the Kaizen philosophy. One aspect of this is Total Productive Maintenance, i.e. carefully interlocking production and maintenance through constant monitoring of the production line. With the help of data transparency, processes can be constantly optimised to reduce costs, increase quality assurance and, something which is limited in scope in the food and drinks industry, achieve greater time efficiencies. Data transparency is easy to create even in existing systems using specialist technologies.

Two initial scenarios
In a very few cases systems are ordered for a Greenfield project, i.e. a brand-new system in a brand-new environment. In a new-build project, the latest technological structures can be established from the outset. Components can be networked with the help of the latest communications standards or using automation platforms such as the iQ Platform from Mitsubishi Electric. These provide seamless communication within the system with a high degree of transparency.

Generally, however, existing plants are modernised (Brownfield projects). Within structures which have grown organically over time, companies need to retrospectively link isolated solutions from different manufacturers and of different ages in order to collect all relevant data for the higher-level management system, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or SCM (Supply Chain Management) at field level. With the help of standard automation components such as the MES-IT interface module from Mitsubishi Electric the necessary transparency can be achieved quickly and cost efficiently here as well. Wholly in terms of Industry 4.0, the module detects production data and test results from every manufacturing step and transfers them in real-time to higher-level systems. These then produce transparent and reliable analyses of processes and procedures using Excel, SAP or pre-produced reports. Such equipment is quick to connect to existing systems with no interruption to machinery processes.

Preventative maintenance
The optimising of machine running times by preventative maintenance is a major issue in the food processing industry. If a machine suddenly fails, an entire batch is usually lost. This is expensive and damaging to productivity. Modern control platforms, touchscreen operating devices and sensors with comprehensive, integrated functionalities as well as flexible maintenance and repair concepts such as the FAG SmartCheck from Schaeffler FAG or the MAPS Life-Cycle-Software tool from Mitsubishi Electric provide the necessary data transparency for simple implementation of preventative maintenance concepts.

The FAG SmartCheck for example recognises and reports the first vibrations of a system long before any noise is generated. The reaction time before machine failure is therefore substantially longer. The maintenance cycle can be adjusted to production at an equally early stage. Machines can be easily retrofitted with the FAG SmartCheck. In bakery systems, for instance, it could be retrofitted to the loading system, mixer or conveyor belts.

Robots in the production area
The installation of robots may also be worthwhile to increase system flexibility and availability. If several products are manufactured, packed or manipulated on one line, production cycles can be designed to be substantially faster and more cost efficient with space-saving robotic and camera systems. At the same time the high hygiene requirements of the food and drinks industry are met.

Robots can be ideal, for instance, in Pick-and-Place applications. In one biscuit production line in the USA, daily production was increased from 12 tons to 20 tonnes of biscuits with the help of robotic technology. Gentle handling by the robots reduced waste and increased quality by 20%.

A pioneering example of robotic technology in bakeries was the interactive application presented by Mitsubishi Electric in 2012 at iba in Munich. Stand visitors were able to apply personalised messages to a virtual cake via an iPad. The script data recorded via the tablet is transferred to a PC. A laser scans the contour via the PC monitor and this information is then sent to the robot controller. With this kind of solution it would be possible to transmit a greeting in one’s own handwriting online and to collect the respectively decorated cake from one’s own local baker.

Interface standards
Developed in close cooperation with automation companies, systems engineers and users, the University of Weihenstephan is currently developing a universal standard for the bakery industry. The Weihenstephan standards define an interface for the connection between machinery and software. It will enable the full connectivity of all systems via a universal IT interface, which will bring significant commercial benefits. This is because the connection of machinery to an MES is the basis for the efficiency calculation of individual lines and their accurate cost calculation. The interface is already established in the brewery and beverage industry and is being introduced into the meat processing industry. Under the name “WS Bake” it is now being refined for the bakery industry to enable the capture of the relevant information for this industry for quality assurance, weakness analysis, efficiency evaluation and energy consumption.

Industry 4.0 in the bakery
Industry 4.0 is also being introduced into the food and drinks industry. The focus is on new automation technologies, intelligent production processes and not least the assurance of Germany as a production centre. Smaller and medium-sized operations need to set themselves apart from the competition. New sales concepts, greater flexibility in production and greater responsiveness to customer requirements up to and including personalisation of products are all essential. With the help of automating concepts in terms of Industry 4.0 – the Internet of Things – these targets are in sight.

So-called Cyber-physical Systems together with state-of-the-art technologies deliver faster, more flexible and more complex production processes, permit personalisation from one unit to a whole batch and increase the transparency of all processes by storing data in the cloud. For this, production processes must be robust, stable and reliably equipped with artificial intelligence. Information must be exchanged and made available on secure networks in real-time. Research and development, including with the aid of model and simulation methods for risk assessment are required in all relevant areas. Any companies which ignore this technological revolution place their futures at risk.

Here is a simple example of Industry 4.0 in the production process: At the batch kneading stage the system calculates which compartment of the deck oven will be free for the next batch and at what temperature. Local I/Os, RFID- and fieldbus systems may be considered for better tracking of products at the individual process stages.

Stay future-proof
The baked products manufacturer faces major challenges. These are increasing product diversity, increasingly rapid new developments and product change-overs on the line, increasingly fluctuating order quantities, shorter product life cycles, stricter statutory regulations particularly with respect to hygiene directives and increasing cost pressure. The technological requirements in the baking industry are particularly high due to the range of possible variations in manufacturing processes and product specifications. Continuous improvement of production processes and efficiency increases cost savings, optimises profit margins and above all guarantee competitiveness in the long term. The basis of this is data transparency within networked production, which is easily achieved with standard automation technology. Automation can substantially contribute to the long-term sustainability of new systems, as well as systems which have been expanded over the years.

Posted in EngineeringComments Off on Making baked products manufacturing fit for the future: Productivity and efficiency through data transparency

Ice age – small inverter, big impact

Ratingen, Germany 24th April 2014

Mitsubishi Electric frequency inverter with stall prevention ensures improved efficiency and performance in traditional ice cream production.

 

Whatever the flavour – a classic such as vanilla, strawberry or chocolate or an experimental flavour such as orange-basil, lime blossom-caramel or sour cream-cress – the important thing is that the ice cream parlour will always be able to serve creamy, firm ice cream. It should melt delicately on the tongue without being watery and it should have an intense yet natural flavour. The traditional method of production used by ice cream manufacturers demonstrates true craftsmanship. Special machines are used to ensure the automated production of ice cream of correspondingly high quality. Under no circumstances should an unscheduled stop of the ice cream production process be allowed. If the paddle motor were to stop working and disrupt the kneading and freezing process, the dairy product would no longer be fit for use. Additives such as milk and flavourings as well as water and electricity would then be wasted. In order to eliminate this risk, Kälte-Rudi – the market leader in the manufacture of ice cream machines – installed the compact Mitsubishi Electric FR-E700 series frequency inverter in its Diagonal-Freezer®, first of all on a trial basis. The powerful reliable inverter was a great success and not just on account of its integrated stall protection. Following this experience, the company decided to use the Mitsubishi Electric components in its ice cream machine as standard. In addition, the company plans to use the inverter in other machines as well. 

High-end drive power

 

Founded half a century ago, Kälte-Rudi’s wide range extends from ice cream machines up to pasteurisers and cream pasteurisers. Its mobile machines are mainly used by ice cream parlours, bakeries, confectioners and commercial kitchens. The medium-sized company from Baden-Württemberg markets its “Quality made in Germany” all over the world.

The Diagonal-Freezer® – an ice cream machine from Kälte-Rudi – is characterised by its patented design featuring a diagonally installed production cylinder and agitator with kneading function. The machine produces creamy ice cream with optimum volume, storage stability and shelf life as well as minimal residual water and no recrystallisation. The Diagonal Freezer® can process between four and 16 litres of liquid ice cream mixture per production process, depending on the model. Markus Moosmann, Technical Director Electrical Engineering at Kälte-Rudi, describes the process: “The first step as part of thetraditional method of producing ice cream involves pasteurising the additives. It would, of course, also be possible to use an already pasteurised finished mixture as a base for adding flavouring. However, for most of our customers it is important to produce their own ice cream mix, as it is an essential part of their craftsmanship. Afterwards the liquid is poured into the ice cream machine. During the process, air is bound into the liquid in order to give the ice cream its creamy consistency as well as more volume. Larger machines with a four-cylinder compressor can process up to 16 litres of mix, producing 20 to 25 litres of ready-to-eat ice cream.”

The drive can often be pushed to the limit as ice cream is difficult to handle. Compared with supermarket ice cream, traditionally produced ice cream is considerably firmer and ideally contains a lot less water. When the machine is mixing several litres of ice cream, it is only the movement of the ice cream that keeps it “liquid”. If the paddle should stop working, the viscous mass would turn into a solid block of ice that would have to be defrosted in order to remove it from the machine. Like any dairy product, you can’t refreeze ice cream that has melted as otherwise there would be a risk of salmonella forming, for example. So if the motor has stopped unexpectedly during the mixing process, the product would be rendered useless. Besides this the ice cream maker would also have wasted all the additives used, as well as the power for the drive and water for cleaning.

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Getting to Grips With Robot End-effectors – A Beginner’s Guide

For perfectly understandable reasons, when it comes to pick and place installations for consumer goods, the robotic arm tends to attract the most attention. Although there is less of a focus on the end tooling at the tip of the arm, it is these end effectors that, when working in unison with a robotic arm, determine the precise operation that the unit performs.  Pacepacker Services, an automation integrator who can provide a robotic solution to handle any food assembly or packing scenario, explores the different types of end effectors available.

“In the strict definition the end-effector means the ‘last link’, or end, of a robot arm and is the part of a robot which interacts with the work environment”. Explains Paul Wilkinson, Pacepacker’s Business Development Manager.  “In a wider sense, the robotic arm resembles that of a human’s, which controls hand movements as its job is to move an end-effector from place to place.”

The selection of a specific robot model, which there are many to choose from including articulated arm, delta style or Cartesian robots, is of critical importance from both a cost and performance perspective. However, the quality of that performance will stand or fall on the choice of end effector. As Mike Wilson, Chairman of the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) explains: “Most problems which occur in production are caused by badly-designed tooling, and not by faults in the robots.”

To put this more positively: get the design and specification of end effector right first time, and you are avoiding the majority of production problems before they materialise.

What are the Options?

Most of the end tooling for pick and place falls into one of four categories: vacuum systems, magnets, grippers and clamshell style. Each variety has particular benefits and target applications.

Vacuum gripping is the most popular form of pick and place solution. Within this range of options, compressed air is typically the most common way of generating vacuum, given that the amount of suction and configuration of valves can be tailored to the product being picked. Where more vacuum is required, a pump or even a high air-flow pump can be specified. The latter is likely to be required where, for instance, a good seal between valve and product cannot be guaranteed. [*]

When it comes to picking and placing tinplate products (including board-multipacked cans), designers can choose from electro-magnets or earth magnets.

‘Gripper’ systems probably sound more aggressive than they really are. The effect is typically one of cradling product rather than gripping it. As ever with end-effectors, the key is to strike the right balance between secure and gentle handling. If product is dented, bruised or scuffed, consumers will reject it. [**]

Clamshell-type picking tends to be used for more easily-damaged and irregularly-shaped product. A compressed air system controls the opening and closing, with bodies often tailored to the shape of the item and lined with a cushioning material such as foam. Pacepacker has designed and installed clamshell systems for small flexible packs of produce, such as peppers and onions.

The technical capabilities available for end effectors are evolving all the time. Pacepacker is an integrator of Festo Mechatronics who recently introduced a system of ‘adaptive fingers’, with ‘prehensile’ abilities not unlike an elephant’s trunk. This exciting development makes it possible to pick up delicate but irregular-shaped objects such as eggs or avocados.

Finding the Right Robot Hand For the Job 

Experience tells us that there is no substitute for trialling the specific pack and product with different robot and end effector options,” explains Paul “At Pacepacker, we have formalised this philosophy in our ‘Try Before You Buy’ commitment. Such an approach is an essential step in de-risking innovation, not only when designing customised clamshell tooling, for instance, but also when specifying the most appropriate vacuum system. Even where an apparently similar item has been matched with a particular solution in the past, those apparent similarities may prove to be deceptive in practice.”

In terms of how the specific design of an end effector is integrated into robotic pick and place, the key priority for most packers will be speed. In addition, the amount of product that can be picked in a single operation will determine cycle times. Once these are established, the payload can be determined, and the robot requirements deduced.

Pacepacker has worked as a strategic partner of FANUC for 15 years, an international supplier of a wide range of articulated-arm robots. Since June 2013, Pacepacker has also been working closely with Festo on twin-axis Cartesian-style pick and place. Both these partners offer options in the third category of robot – ‘delta’-style picking systems – where Pacepacker, too, has a proprietary system.

If more businesses are recognising the return on investment offered by robotic pick and place, this is in part because the installation cost of the robots themselves has reduced over the years. But it is also thanks to improved processes of design and specification: ensuring you have the right tooling for the product, and the right robot for the output and payload you require. 

On the other hand, it can be easy to get carried away by the ‘newest’ technical developments and over specify either the robot itself or other elements in the system. “Take vision systems.” Paul explains.  “There is a place in today’s market for them particularly where there is a growing number of products’ being presented to robots in erratic formats or variable positions.  However where products are all in a uniform line often a simple sensor is all that’s required. By paying special attention to how the product is presented to the pick and place devise an experienced integrator will often avoid any need for over complicated vision systems.”

On many pick & place lines, tooling change will not be a major requirement. But where it is, this has to be factored in. In fact, compressed air vacuum systems can often be designed with a single coupling, and substitution times of less than a minute are likely to be dwarfed by upstream changeover requirements.  “As specialists in the design of end effectors we can eliminate the need for change overs by making the end effectors multifunctional.  Where interchangeability is required compressed air vacuum electronics can be quickly disconnected and re-attached using quick release couplings. These changeover times are likely to be quicker than upstream or downstream equipment.” Paul explains.

Further considerations when designing a bespoke system include the possible use of height compensators, sprung loaded features which are mounted onto suction cups to pick up items with height irregularity, such as packs of meat or blocks of cheese.   These, like other options in the long list available to pick and place systems designers, need to be assessed at an early stage to ensure that the end effector combines with the robot itself to create a cost-effective, longlasting, reliable and trouble-free solution.

“Robotic devises are common place today and anyone can buy a robot arm,” concludes Paul, “however it’s the applications knowledge and ability to design the best possible solution for each application which is key and as always our philosophy is to be able to demonstrate the ability of robotics and end effectors at our ‘Try before You Buy’ facility.

Food manufacturers can attend a free educational event in June at Pacepacker’s Essex-based facility on robotics and automation where they will learn the differences between Cartesian, articulated arm and delta-style robots and their application capability.

Food manufacturers can use Pacepacker’s EEF award winning ‘Try Before You Buy’ facility to run product tests and trials. They are also hosting a free educational event in June, in Essex. For details contact Email events@pacepacker.com, Tel (0)1371 811544 or visit www.pacepacker.com.

*In the dairy category, vacuum handling can provide a great solution for product such as pots of yogurt, since it minimises contact and potential damage. But at the same time, the pack provides a secure seal with the gripper.

**One widespread application of clamp systems is in loading bags of root vegetables and other produce into bulk bins or trays. In this case, even high-suction vacuum tooling would not grip the product securely.

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Olympus Automation’s Steam Infusion Awarded £30,000 by Shell Springboard

Olympus Automation has been awarded a £30,000 prize as part of the Springboard competition sponsored by industry giant Shell. The expert panel of judges recognised the potential for Steam Infusion to significantly reduce carbon emissions due to a more efficient industrial heating and mixing process.

 

The Shell Springboard programme is a nationwide search for the next breakthrough in low carbon enterprise, part of a strategy of collaborating externally to fast track solutions to the energy challenge. Since 2005, Shell has awarded £2.58million to 71 companies exploring new ways to cut carbon emissions.

Steam Infusion allows food product to be cooked, mixed and pumped within a single unit, often removing the need for multiple stages of processing. Carbon reductions are generated from the significant reduction in system footprint and 99.7% energy transfer in the steam infusion chamber. To date steam Infusion is being used at more than 30 sites globally, producing sauces, soups and meat products to great effect.

“Steam infusion has allowed us to nearly double our previous throughput rates, furthermore our meat sauce quality and consistency has improved dramatically.”

Mark Carnaghan, Factory Manager, Greencore

Steam Infusion is believed to be the fastest growing food processing solution in the UK with annual sales up 10 fold to £6 million. It has been dubbed low risk by commentators because of the ease with which manufacturers can easily match existing products.  The PDX™ steam infusion unit can be run in steam injector mode cutting production times but with no change to final product.

 “Since purchasing the PDX™ system we have reduced the production time of our soups and sauces by more than 50% as well as reducing energy whilst still maintaining our exceptional product quality.”

Jan Kusters, Manufacturing Director, Larco Foods

Manufacturers can then modify recipes at a later date to enable the powerful taste and texture benefits of steam infusion.

“When running in steam infusion mode we have seen an increase in the flavour profile of our product which will lead us to the possibility of reducing ingredients such as salt, spices and flavour enhancers making our product healthier for our customers.”

Jan Kusters, Manufacturing Director, Larco Foods

Website: www.olympus-automation.co.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1733 394 700

Twitter : https://twitter.com/Olympuspdx

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RSSL Clarify Food Labelling Requirements as Countdown to Compliance Begins

With just 9 months to go until the EU Food Information to Consumer Regulation (FIC) comes onto the UK statute books as the Food Information Regulation (FIR), the countdown to compliance has begun in earnest. Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) has received numerous enquiries from food business operators about the new regulations, focusing on the changes to food labelling requirements and how the new regulations will be policed by enforcement officers. We address some of these enquiries here.

Concern about correctly meeting the labelling requirements that come into force on the 13th of December is understandable, and RSSL has advised early action to ensure compliance. The FIC requirements will mean significant change for manufacturers, food businesses and consumers alike: among other requirements allergens must be highlighted in the ingredients list and this information cannot be repeated in a separate allergy advice box; loose, unpackaged and takeaway food must declare the 14 EU allergens if used as deliberate ingredients; and allergy information must be available regarding served food in any venue. To assist food manufacturers with the complexities of the new regulations, RSSL will shortly be releasing a whitepaper covering in detail the implications of FIC for the industry.

The question of enforcement is of obvious interest to food business operators, who naturally wish to know how their compliance with the FIR is likely to be assessed. Enforcement lies with the UK Unitary Authorities, broadening the responsibilities of Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) and Trading Standards Officers (TSOs).

Whilst some areas such as labelling present few difficulties in enforcement, other areas are less well defined. Small businesses serving food, for example, may choose to provide mandatory allergen information verbally; whilst this information must be “accurate, consistent and verifiable,” how would this be checked? Businesses should be able to demonstrate that there is a consistent process in place to supply information to consumers and that they have recorded information about ingredient traceability available.

The obvious follow-on from enquiries about enforcement is the question of what consequences will ensue for those who are not in compliance. Initially, we believe breaches will result in Improvement Notices and First Tier Tribunals in the case of appeals, but there is the possibility of criminal sanctions for non-compliance as this may endanger consumers.

As the clock is ticking on the Countdown to Compliance, the industry needs to prepare so as to be fully ready for the new regulations in December, and enter 2015 with better, clearer and more consistent labelling across the board.

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Sheffield’s Burgeoning Independent Real Ale Sector Boosted by City’s Newest Brewery

Knight Frank has boosted Sheffield’s burgeoning independent real ale sector by finding a perfect home for the city’s newest brewery.

The Stancill Brewery, which uses equipment bought from the historic Oakwell Brewery, needed a base and the Knight Frank Sheffield office found the ideal spot – complete with high quality water for the finest beer.

Kane Yeardley, founder of the fast-expanding Forum Café Bar group, is one of four investors in the new venture at Parkwood Industrial Estate in Neepsend, along with business partners Adam Hague, Thomas Gill and the brewer Johnny Stancill.

Within six months of visiting the site, and after set-up, the inaugural pint was pulled and it has already earned plaudits from real ale fans. The Stancill Barnsley Bitter brewed on the site won the Champion Bitter of Yorkshire award at the Rotherham Camra Magna Real Ale Festival last week against tough competition from 250 beers from around the UK.

Kane says Knight Frank was crucial in making the right deal happen in a tight time-frame. Kane says: “We had to move quickly to find a unit to move the brewing kit into. I looked at a number of units then Rebecca Schofield from Knight Frank, showed me Parkwood and it fitted our requirements. It was not just about the water, but the right deal at Parkwood which Rebecca offered.

“The landlord, Aviva Investors, had a simple, fast legal department to first sort out a licence to occupy, and then the lease.”

The unit on Parkwood Industrial Estate on Rutland Way in Sheffield is close to the former Stones Cannon Brewery at Neepsend, an area known for its high quality H20 and the centre of Sheffield’s brewery renaissance, which is receiving global acclaim.

Kane adds: “The unit was exactly the right size and height to house the brewing equipment. Most importantly, the water is of very good quality. It’s why many other distinguished breweries are located in the area.”

Rebecca Schofield, partner at the Sheffield office of Knight Frank, who acted on behalf of Aviva, says: “The ongoing refurbishment of the units means they offer flexible manufacturing and warehousing space which is proving attractive to a variety of businesses. Let’s all raise a glass to the success of the brewery on the site.”

The brewery joins a variety of local and national companies located at Parkwood Industrial estate following the success of recent lettings including Steel City Cars, GB Eye, Plumbase, Tool Station and Antiquity, where Knight Frank and Campbell and Co have advised the landlord. – See more at: http://www.fdiforum.net/en/fdi/production/911#sthash.rk9vjfJV.dpuf

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GEA Group Invests in Production Capacity for Confectionery Equipment

The GEA Group is setting the standard – with a multi-million euro investment in a new technology center and the production capacity for vertical packaging and confectionery equipment (in Weert, NL). Goal: To create further growth for the Group and the Segment by expanding the production site and increasing its capacity.

The focus lies on the construction of a new technology and training center, taking the GEA Group one step further towards expanding its leading position as a system provider in the food industry.

“We have experienced strong growth over the last few years,” explains Harrie Neijnens, Vice President of Technology and Site Manager. “We’d reached the limits of our capacity. At the same time, our technologies for the food industry hold a substantial growth potential. To be able to grow further as a company we needed to create more space at our site, too.” The GEA Group has defined the food industry as a strategic area of growth. As these plans are in accordance with this direction, GEA Group enabled the investment of around two million euros for these expansions. It wasn’t long until the project moved from the planning stages in August 2013 to the commencement of building operations at the end of 2013. At the heart of building operations was the construction of a new technology center with modern facilities, all of which can be shown to the customer as part of a live demonstration, incorporating flow packers as well as lollipop production equipment and sugar cube lines that make up the core business of this plant.

“The technology center is an integral part of our work,” says Harrie Neijnens. “It’s important to us that our customers can learn about and profit from our wealth of experience by coming into direct contact with our products. We allow them to get hands on with our machines and see them live in action – not simply on paper – so that they can get to know what equipment suits their needs before ordering. This is embodied by our motto: Test before you invest.” A fantastic way to fuse the GEA values of responsibility and excellence.

The GEA SmartPacker will play a central role in the technology center and is targeting optimal results in the area of Vertical Flow Packaging. “Demand in this area is particularly strong,” explains Carla Verheijen, Product Manager for the GEA SmartPacker. “Initial requests came from the Benelux countries, then from across Europe and now they’re coming in from across the globe. The market has grown considerably, given that the GEA SmartPacker can be used to pack a wide range of products such as fresh and deep-frozen meat, fish, vegetables and potatoes, cheese, salad and even confectionery.”

As well as the GEA SmartPacker, the new technology center will also display machines that mould and package lollipops. “This wasn’t possible in the old technology center due to limited space,” says Carla Verheijen. “Now the range of products we manufacture on-site has become much more diverse, meaning that we can reach a larger client base, whose members can take the opportunity to come and let our products win them over.”

The technology center will be supplemented by a new training center, with enough space for 50 square metres of state-of-the-art training rooms. The training center is affiliated with the GEA Academy, which holds training sessions for employees, customers and service providers of the segment and trains them to use GEA products.

Besides the building of a new technology center, other areas of the plant are also being expanded. “Looking to the future, we’ll be structuring renovation work in such a way that streamlines the production process – meaning we can produce higher quantities at a greater pace,” explains Harrie Neijnens. “What’s more, everything happens under one roof now – from the development of a product right through its assembly – meaning we can make better use of our capacities. We’d like to pass on this efficiency to our customers by delivering products to them faster than ever before.”

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OPTIMA at Interpack: Flexibility and Diversity for Packaging Processes

Optima will be exhibiting its intelligent process and packaging solutions at the upcoming Interpack trade fair, where the focus will be on flexibility, high outputs and line solutions to offer users the best possible return on investment. A number of important new developments will be showcased.

OPTIMA consumer
Being able to fill and close both bottles and tubes is the advantage of the flexible new Moduline machine type. The installed robot removes the supplied packaging materials from boxes and inserts them into special transport pucks. Although the exhibited version of the filling and closing machine has been designed to process shampoo, shower gel and lotion (cold and warm filling), the complete range of cosmetic products can also be filled using the same equipment. The machine can accommodate PE and laminate tubes up to 60 mm in diameter and glass and plastic bottles up to 100 mm in diameter. Other dimensions can be integrated. The unit has impressive performance even for large volumes, with an output of up to 12,000 units per hour. Format changes, including between tubes and bottles, do not require any tools. Changeover time including CIP is approximately 20 minutes, depending on the product being processed. Modules can be exchanged or added later to the compact monoblock Moduline machine.

The new high-performance cartoner OPTIMA CBF is closing the gap between primary and secondary packaging thanks to seamless line integration. The products are oriented and positioned within the cartoner. Flexibility is once again the keyword here: Product grouping devices or a second alignment module can be integrated. The cartoner offers a number of advantages for the customer, including a cassette for blanks that can be removed as a unit when formats are changed. Other benefits include gentle processing (finished boxes are transported in a puck), a large format range, operator ergonomics and hygienic properties.

The OPTIMA MPS is another new modular machine designed specifically for food and chemicals. It can flexibly process cylindrical containers including canisters in the filling range of 500 ml to 30 l. The version shown at the fair is for filling liquids, but a filling system for powders could also be installed. The mass flow filling system is located on a trolley, which makes switching products fast while reliably avoiding cross contamination. Additional functions such as handling processes, sealing, flushing, inspection and more can be integrated. The highly accessible machine with explosion protection can also be equipped with a CIP unit. Outputs of up to 160 products/min are reached.

For portion packages such as coffee capsules or soft pods, Optima Consumer achieves outputs of up to 1,500 products/min, a level unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Furthermore, the OPTIMA CFL2-8 model shown at Interpack comes with individual weight measurement and feedback to the dosing system for unrivalled filling accuracy when processing ground coffee. The sealing station utilizes ultrasonic welding.

In order to dose high-quality, expensive products such as powdered milk with absolute weight accuracy while still achieving high outputs, the OPTIMA FS machine comes with an optional integrated continuous topping-up system. This option is ideal for countries with compulsory minimum volumes, to minimize the amount of giveaway. The two integrated pre-dosing units fill the primary filling quantity, after which the topping-up system adds the rest to reach the nominal weight. The calibratable dynamic gross / tare weigher completes the integrated system. An output of 160 containers/min for 900g filling weight is possible with the topping-up function. Additional standard solutions up to 300 containers/min are also available.

OPTIMA pharma
Modular systems are becoming increasingly important in special machinery manufacture. The INOVA SV125 exhibited has been further developed into a proven, modular filling and closing machine system. The INOVA SV is suitable for the range from pilot testing to medium outputs. A maximum output of 18,000 containers/hour is achieved via ten filling points, with a dosing range of 0.1 to 50 ml. The system boasts impressive flexibility. The operator can implement up to three difference filling systems in a single machine while also processing three different container types: nested syringes, carpules and vials (for more information, please refer to page YX in this issue of O-com). Numerous additional modules and functions can be integrated, including filling under vacuum, pre- and post-flushing with gas, and up to 100% in-process control. Upstream, the pre-sterilized containers are manually to fully automatically unpacked and fed to the process. The post-processing section features such modules as backstop locks and safety devices, optical and sensor controls, labelers and track & trace systems. RAB systems and isolators can be deployed for containment.

The company will also be presenting the KUGLER LINOLINE, a monoblock filling and closing machine with an extended format range of 5 ml to 1,000 ml dosed via a peristaltic pump system, allowing for a high output of up to 7,200 products/hour. Up to 4,800 containers/hour can be processed in the 500-ml format. The compact machine also comes equipped with a sophisticated closing system consisting of a stopper insertion station, a sealing station, a screw capper with a final torquing station and a station for attaching a secondary cap and a measuring cup. Optical inspections and integrated in-process control with tendency control of dosing ensure outstanding product quality and filling accuracy.

The Klee freeze dryer to be presented at Interpack is a pilot unit capable of being retrofitted for production as needed. It can be manually loaded and unloaded under an isolator with VHP-sterilization. A special stopper closure mechanism on the back of the machine makes it possible to close individual vials of a test batch in order to assess how the process is progressing. With countless years of experience, Klee offers a comprehensive portfolio of freeze drying technologies in all capacity ranges, including with automatic loading and unloading.

Metall + Plastic will exhibit one of its models to showcase the advantages of its isolator technology for fair visitors, including highly effective, reliable pneumatic sealing systems and catalytic aeration techniques that massively reduce cycle times. Metall + Plastic will also present e-beam decontamination tunnels and isolators for specific requirements.

In addition to its filling and closing technologies, Optima Pharma will be showing the rest of its product range at Interpack, including washing machines, sterilization tunnels, containment and process technologies, and robotics.

OPTIMA nonwovens
The innovative Optima transport system exhibited at the trade fair combines linear transport with the principle of magnetic levitation for a wealth of advantages. Cartridges containing rows of disposable paper products such as diapers can be discharged from the previously closed stacking system, making it possible to distribute product stacks to different packaging machines, to interlink machines or to discharge to quality control. In addition to this new flexibility, the system makes possible higher outputs for small package sizes in particular, as well as more careful product handling. The transport system is installed in Red Dot Design Award-winning housing from Optima. Major advantages here are excellent sound insulation, a design without edges and corners, and a clear view of the machine status.

The AMOTEK R168 demonstrated at the fair is an example of the diverse portfolio of the Italian manufacturer in the semi- and fully automated range. The machine is used to process disposable paper products in a wide range of film packaging, which can be produced on the same machine. Products such as garbage bags or other solid, flexible articles can likewise be processed. A delta robot can be integrated as needed for product handling.

OPTIMA life science
Medicon systems from Optima Life Science are at the cutting edge of modularity. The MEDICON MDC 300 Vario converting unit is ideal for manufacturing and developing advanced wound care products. The process can be very easily changed or expanded. Operators can configure the modules via “plug & play” – no programming skills required. Within a very short time, a new manufacturing process under cleanroom conditions has also been brought to production readiness. The machines are thus ideal for developing new products as well as for flexible series production. The biggest advantage: the time to market for new wound care products is massively reduced.

Optima Life Science will also demonstrate the MEDICON ImmuCoat® production line, a modular, scalable system for the automatic coating of microplates for the production of ELISA test kits. The key feature: all base modules can also be combined as desired for true “plug & play” convenience. MEDICON ImmuCoat® allows parallel administration and processing of a practically unlimited number of product batches without mixing them up.

The purpose of the OPAL software solution developed by Optima Life Science and presented at Interpack is to analyze machines in terms of outputs and potential clusters of errors and to identify potential for improvement, in turn making operational efficiency transparent. OPAL also performs planning and process optimization tasks. The software communicates with other IT systems that are typically installed in companies, including ERP software such as SAP. A number of the machines demonstrated at Interpack will be networked using OPAL.

Optima at Interpack, 8-14 May, 2014 in Düsseldorf: Hall 16, Booth F25-F26

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Jump Ahead of the Competition with Accelerated Oxidative Stability Testing

A new accelerated stability testing service for oils, fats and finished products will provide invaluable support to the food industry, says Reading Scientific Services Ltd. Accelerated testing allows oxidative stability to be evaluated in a fraction of the standard time, so more stable products with longer shelf-life can be developed quicker.

The RSSL Lipids Team uses Rancimat and Oxipres equipment to study the oxidation of oils, fats and lipids in raw materials and finished products that leads to rancidity and off flavours in food over time. Conditions within the instruments are set to accelerate the oxidation process, therefore allowing evaluation of stability in a shorter timeframe. This can provide guidance to performance throughout shelf-life, as results can be interpreted to predict real-life behaviour.

The accelerated oxidative stability testing service will assist in product development by allowing a range of formulations to be quickly tested and narrowed down to the most promising, which can then be taken through real-time shelf-life testing using the bench chemistry techniques commonly used to assess oxidation. The accelerated testing can also be used to rapidly assess the impact of different processing conditions and product format on product stability.

A significantly shorter timeframe for developing products with the desired shelf-life provides numerous benefits to manufacturers: the route to market for new products is shortened, costs reduced and quality maintained.

RSSL’s new service launches at Nutraformulate in March.

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New CEO for CO2 Technology Manufacturers Union Engineering a/s

A unanimous Board of Directors has appointed Kim Dalum for the position as new CEO of CO2 technology Union Engineering a/s.
Kim Dalum comes from a position as General Manager, Market Unit Brewery at Alfa -Laval A/S, and has previously among other things, been co-owner and CEO of Sander Hansen A/S.

Current CEO Peter Kriklywi will continue to contribute to Union Engineering’s development, and as a board member of subsidiary AircoDIET, and will not later than the next annual general meeting in 2015 join the Board of Union Engineering a/s.

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Solid Performance puts Origin Enterprises on Positive Footing

Agri-services group Origin Enterprises has upgraded its full-year guidance as it reported a “solid” operating and financial performance in the first half of the year.

The firm said operating profit in its key agri-services division rose by 68.1 per cent in the six months to the end of January 2014, rising to €4 million from €2.4 million a year earlier.

Analysts noted more favourable weather conditions in this period compared with the previous year.

Although the first half of the financial year typically represents less than 10 per cent of the company’s earnings, analysts saw the interim results as a good start.

“While it is seasonally an insignificant period, the bounce in agri-services operating profit in H1 gets the year off to a good start,” Davy Stockbrokers’ John O’Reilly said, adding that extended acreage and good crop conditions provided good visibility for the more critical second half of the year.

Earnings per share were down almost 22 per cent, but that was impacted by the disposal of Welcon. Excluding that and the effect of currency, EPS was 12.1 per cent higher year on year.

Chief executive Tom O’Mahony said the firm would raise its full year guidance in adjusted diluted earnings per share by 3 per cent to 53.5 cent.

“The requirement of primary food producers for greater crop productivity whilst managing the environmental sustainability of their production systems underscores the urgent priority to reliably close the gap between optimum crop potential and what is credibly achievable,” he said in a statement. “The Group, through its comprehensive co-ordinated growing systems and knowledge translation capability, is committed to delivering practical and relevant information on-farm that can positively influence the competitiveness, profitability and sustainability of primary arable, vegetable and fruit enterprises.”

Posted in Industry, IngredientsComments Off on Solid Performance puts Origin Enterprises on Positive Footing

Kerry Group Posts Revenues of €5.8 Billion for 2013

Kerry Group has reported revenues of €5.8 billion for 2013, despite “highly competitive” consumer food markets in the UK and Ireland.

The company reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) growth of 10.2 per cent to 257.9 cent, while continuing business volumes increased by 3 per cent.

Group trading profit increased by 9.4 per cent to €611 million, while adjusted profit after tax increased by 10.3 per cent to €453 million.

Expenditure on research and development at €186 million was similar to the prior year level.

The board recommended a final dividend of 28 cent per share, an increase of 12 per cent on the 2012 final dividend. Together with the interim dividend of 12 cent per share, this brings the total dividend for the year to 40 cent, an increase of 11.7 per cent on 2012.

Kerry Group chief executive Stan McCarthy said the company’s performance reflected continued business margin improvement and strong cash generation.

“Based on current exchange rates, the group expects to achieve 6 per cent to 10 per cent growth in adjusted earnings per share in 2014,” he said.

Posted in Industry, NewsComments Off on Kerry Group Posts Revenues of €5.8 Billion for 2013

Taste Ireland Sign Distribution Deal With Australian Retail Giant Coles

Irish entrepreneur Eamon Eastwood has secured a major coup for his Taste Ireland business, signing a deal with Autralian retail giant Coles to stock Irish products in 600 stores.

Coles supermarkets will have a new dedicated Irish section selling Tayto crisps, Barry’s Tea, Club Orange and other favourites.

The contract will represent retail turnover of more than €2 million in year one, and will see Taste Ireland turnover increase by 60 per cent.

“What started as a niche boutique style operation in 2004 has now flourished into a scalable and thriving enterprise. On the supply side we have worked hand in hand with the Irish manufactures who now see a potentially new market opening for them whilst on the demand side there is 600,000 Irish passport holders in Australia”, Mr Eastwood said.

In October 2011, Taste Ireland agreed a contract to supply Woolworths, which controls around 30 per cent of Australia’s supermarket business. This latest Coles deal will bring the number of Australian stores now stocking the company’s Irish food brands to 1,000.

Mr Eastwood was recently named by Enterprise Ireland as a ‘start-up ambassador’ for Australia, as part of a strategy to encourage overseas entrepreneurs to locate their export focused start-up businesses in Ireland.

Posted in IndustryComments Off on Taste Ireland Sign Distribution Deal With Australian Retail Giant Coles

Business Angel Food Syndicate Invests €700k in Elivar

Sports nutrition company Elivar has raised €700,000 from multiple sources, including the HBAN Food Syndicate, Enterprise Ireland and other private investors.

Elivar develops a range of sports nutrition products, specifically formulated and tailored for the over-35 age group.

On the back of this investment, Elivar will create 10 new jobs by the end of 2014. The positions will be in the areas of food science, production, e-commerce, marketing and finance.

HBAN’s new business angel Food Syndicate will support export-focused food, drink and nutraceutical start-ups.

HBAN director Michael Culligan said the Irish food industry, North and South, continues to grow. In the Republic of Ireland, the industry now accounts for 8.6pc of total employment and 11pc of all Ireland’s exports, with exports having surpassed the €9bn mark.

Elivar’s main markets are the UK and Ireland, from where 90pc of its current sales emanate. It also exports to Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands, and is looking to expand its sales channels across Europe in the coming year.
Food science

Donal Hanrahan and Len Dunne founded Elivar in Dublin in 2012. The duo trained and rowed at an international level in their 20s and now, in their 40s, are active in endurance sports.

They found that while there is an abundance of sports nutrition products that support endurance and recovery for young and elite athletes, there was nothing tailored for the needs of their specific age group, despite having different nutritional needs.

“While our initial funding was required to bring Elivar to market, the HBAN Food Syndicate investment also provides us with the active support of some of Ireland’s leading food entrepreneurs,” Hanrahan explained.

“In the long term it is their combined experience which will help us develop Elivar to its fullest potential, as a successful Irish food company operating in a global marketplace.

“The HBAN syndicate model was perfect for us. An issue for companies seeking investment is the time it takes to get in front of the right investors. The Food Syndicate gave us the unique opportunity to address a group of engaged investors, with a specific interest in food investments.”

Elivar’s core products have been developed with nutritionists and food scientists to deliver a full nutrition system, providing the correct levels of energy, protein and micronutrients to athletes who are over 35.

Alison Cowzer is managing director of The Company of Food and is also a founding member of the HBAN Food Syndicate.

“We are a very new business angel syndicate, founded under the auspices of HBAN,” she said. “The syndicate chose Elivar as our first investment as its founders really impressed us. They had clearly researched their market and the growth potential for this business. The clear niche they have identified in the expanding over 35s sports market shows the innovative nature of this product and we see this as a long-term sustainable market.

“As a new syndicate, we are seeking further business angels to join our group and thereby add to the levels of funding we have available for Irish businesses and the expertise and market insights we can share,” Cowzer said.

Posted in IndustryComments Off on Business Angel Food Syndicate Invests €700k in Elivar

Robot Uptake Increases by 60% in Food and Drink Sectors

UK robot sales figures for 2013 from the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) reveal a 60% increase in robot uptake within the food sector, compared to 2000 results.

With an install base of 2,685,000 products worldwide, FANUC Robotics’ Managing Director Chris Sumner comments: “Our hope is that robots will improve the competitive edge of firms operating within the UK food industry.

The latest pick and place robots from FANUC – ideal for the toughest production environments.

While speed, accuracy and agility are all key benefits, recent demands from producers relate to food safety and the use of robots to improve hygiene levels during the manufacturing process.”

In direct response, FANUC has recently launched two IP69K certified assembly and handling robots for use in high pressure wash-down environments. Where high speed is the critical factor, the new M-2iA delta style pick and place robot, with four axis capability, can pick wrapped or unwrapped goods from one conveyor and place them into product trays or cartons at up to 220 cycles per minute.

Where dexterity is the main requirement, FANUC’s new six axis LR Mate 200iD/7C articulated arm can tilt, twist and rotate single or multiple products with ease.

Capable of 180 cycles per minute, this compact system can be mounted on the floor, upside down, on a wall or at an angle.

For more information on FANUC’s food-grade robots please contact T: +44(0) 24 7663 9669 E: uksales@fanuc.eu  or visit www.fanuc.co.uk.

Posted in Control & Automation, End of LineComments Off on Robot Uptake Increases by 60% in Food and Drink Sectors

Premier Foods Buys Ngwane’s Flour Milling Operation in Swaziland

UK-based Premier Foods has taken over the wheat and flour milling operation of Swaziland-based Ngwane Group for ZAR100m.

The Swaziland Competition Commission (SCC) has approved the transaction, subject to certain conditions.

The acquisition is part of the company’s efforts to foray into food manufacturing sector throughout Africa.

Premier Foods CEO Wayne Levendale said, “We are happy that the transaction has come through and we are definitely sure of the benefits for both consumers and the entire Swazi market.

“There is a lot that Premier Foods can bring to the table. In South Africa we are one of the top millers. We have the Iwisa brand of maize, and Snowflake brand of flour.”

The company owns one maize milling facility, five wheat mills and 11 bakeries as well as brands such as Blue Ribbon bread.

Premier Swazi Bakers was formed after acquiring a stake in local bakeries Mister Bread and Swaziland United Bakeries.

Established in 1991, Ngwane Mills is headquartered at the Matsapha industrial park outside Manzini, and produces wheat and maize products for the domestic market.

Posted in Industry, ProcessingComments Off on Premier Foods Buys Ngwane’s Flour Milling Operation in Swaziland

Candy Plus Boosts Raisio Profits

Finland-based food group Raisio have reported higher annual profits, helped by improved sales from confectionery arm Candy Plus.

Raisio’s net profit more than doubled from EUR12m (US$16.4m) in 2012 to EUR26.2m in 2013. Its bottom line in 2012 had been hit by a spike in financial expenses.

The company upped its operating profit despite lower sales. Net sales were down 4.5% at EUR557.6m, in part due to 2012 including businesses Raisio sold over the last year, including a non-dairy division.

However, the Honey Monster owner also pointed to a fall in breakfast cereal sales in the UK due to “low promotional levels” and, notably, “negative publicity related to sugar”.

Nevertheless, EBIT was up from EUR31.7m in 2012 to EUR33.6m in 2013. Raisio said EBIT from its branded business rose from EUR34.9m to EUR35.7m. The company said its acquisition of Candy Plus, struck in November 2012, helped earnings from its business in western Europe.

Sales of Benecol products helped branded profits in northern and eastern Europe. However, Raisio said EBIT from the Benecol business itself fell due to decreased sales volume of plant stanol ester and contract manufacturing.

Posted in IndustryComments Off on Candy Plus Boosts Raisio Profits

Invensys Updates Advanced Process Control Software

Invensys, a leading supplier of state-of-the-art industrial software, systems and control equipment to the world’s major industries, has unveiled a new version of its SimSci® advanced process control software. To be released this spring, SimSci APC 2014 will enable customers to shorten their plant testing and commissioning schedules, as well as improve plant operations and personnel performance.

This innovative offering has been built from the ground up to emphasize ease of use. It modernizes the graphical user interface while retaining the rigorous and robust calculation engine from the company’s successful Connoisseur APC offering. The new SimSci APC 2014 software is structured around an enhanced, natural workflow that includes full support for model case file development and a connection wizard for faster integration to any distributed control system and programmable logic controller, including the company’s Foxboro® I/A Series® DCS and its new Foxboro Evo™ process automation system. The software will be even more tightly integrated in future releases of the Foxboro Evo system as well, providing enhanced simulation capability. 

“Advanced process control can result in tremendous improvements in plant efficiency and performance, but it is largely underutilized, in part because some potential users find it too much of a challenge,” says Peter Reynolds, senior consultant with the ARC Advisory Group. “Invensys addresses this issue head on, with new graphical interfaces, intuitive workflows and custom calculation engines. Making optimization easier will empower both seasoned APC users and the next generation of engineers and operators to address a wider range of process conditions and business challenges.”

SimSci APC 2014 software greatly extends the capabilities of traditional APC offerings to garner more control over the process. Director, a powerful new feature, allows the control engineer to build custom calculations or add custom supporting controller functions that augment the user’s experience. Natural workflows speed up model building, configuration and deployment, and additional features make the software suitable for a complete APC project implementation. These advancements help the transitioning workforce more easily build and maintain APC applications, and can cut implementation and commissioning time by up to 50 percent.

“We are excited about our new APC offering, which builds on our market-leading Connoisseur APC software to help our customers enhance quality, increase throughput and reduce energy usage,” says Tom Kinney, vice president of Invensys’ optimization business. “The software was developed with the end user in mind, and it includes several well-thought-out features that help achieve better and more sustainable control of the process. A built-in auto-discovery wizard captures the specific syntax of any DCS for even faster buildup of tag connections; its automated testing feature means faster, more flexible configuration; it’s tablet ready; new click-and-drag functionality allows users to select the best models from many scenarios; and customizable user-defined functions improve how users can cope with changing process conditions. The end result is that SimSci APC 2014 provides a better, friendlier and more flexible user experience than traditional APC applications, making operators and engineers far more effective and productive.”

Posted in Control & Automation, ITComments Off on Invensys Updates Advanced Process Control Software

Fletchers Group Refinances to Maintain Growth

Fletchers Group of Bakeries has completed a £22m refinancing package and renewal of its banking facilities as it aims for long term business growth.

The group, which is a leading supplier of bakery and morning goods to the Foodservice and Retail markets, has partnered with ABN AMRO, which provides the £22m banking facility for the next five years, representing a £4.5m increase in availability against its previous banking provision.

With strong investment strategies and targeted new product development in conjunction with major retail and foodservice customers, Fletchers Group is aiming to use the facility to maintain its growth and plant development across its Sheffield, Manchester and London sites.

Group Finance Director Paul Devlin announced: “This is a significant step for the business, allowing us to further strengthen our balance sheet and pursue strategic options for the group for the foreseeable future.

“Over the last two years, Fletchers has invested more than £14m in existing facilities and creating new capacity. We have also had to make some hard decisions to rationalise non-profitable parts of the business and facing these difficult challenges has strengthened the company substantially.

“We look forward to the future, and the opportunities this brings for further development across our three current businesses and potential new investment opportunities, underpinned by the new banking facility.”

The past 12 months have seen significant changes at Fletchers Group as the management team has brought a number of key projects to fruition to create a platform for future growth.

In its latest filed accounts – for the year to 30 March 2013 – Fletchers Group’s management initiatives put in place helped profitability increase significantly, with the business posting pre-tax profit of £2.8m on sales of £99.1m for the period.

Recent developments witnessed include the closure of a loss making facility in Barnsley, but have also seen the company invest £7m in a brand new production facility at its Sheffield operations, and a £4m expansion of its food manufacturing facilities at Grain D’Or in London to increase production capacity by 40 per cent.

This growth has recently been added to with a further £1m investment in a brand new cold-store facility in Manchester to double capacity and enhance environmental and technical efficiencies at its dedicated Kara Foodservice business unit.

Posted in IndustryComments Off on Fletchers Group Refinances to Maintain Growth

Irishman to Run Fast-Growing UK Wine Business

A 29-year old Dubliner has been appointed managing director of Britain’s fastest-growing wine company.

Eamon FitzGerald has been named as managing director of Naked Wines UK, the online wine retailing group, which had sales of €73 million last year, an increase of 67 per cent on the previous year.

Naked Wines was founded by Rowan Gormley, who previously set up Virgin Money for Richard Branson, and he continues to run the overall group, which is now also focused on expanding into America and Australia.

FitzGerald, a former consultant with Accenture, began as a wine blogger before starting to work for a wine trade magazine. As managing director of Naked Wines UK, he will oversee 105 staff and 140,000 customers, after joining the company two years ago.

“The crazy thing about the wine industry is the two most important people – the customer and the winemaker – are the ones getting screwed,” FitzGerald says.

“We’ve used the power of the internet to bring them together, so that the customer invests in the winemaker, the winemaker makes the wines knowing the wine is already sold, so you land up with a better product that costs less.”

Naked Wines, he says, also allows its customers interact directly with small wine producers to give them feedback and attend wine-tastings.

Naked Wines sells its wines at a lower cost than most competitors by not spending money on sales trips, traditional marketing or expensive packaging, Fitzgerald says. “By removing the selling, you can actually achieve the quality at a supermarket price.”

Duty hikes
Based in Norwich, Naked Wines is expanding outside the UK, led by founder Rowan Gormley, but has no plans to go into the Republic of Ireland.

“We don’t ship to the Republic at the moment – we are busy launching in the US and Australia. Minister Noonan with all his duty hikes isn’t making it easy either. But you never know,” FitzGerald says. Naked Wines has 5,000 customers in Northern Ireland, he adds.

In August 2013 the online wine retailer announced it had raised $10 million in a third-round investment from a German group of direct wine-selling companies and founder shareholders, in order to expand internationally.

Gormley and WIV Wein International AG, a €500 million family-owned German wine business, are its largest shareholders. The company has been reported previously to be considering a stock market flotation in the medium term. FitzGerald declined to comment on the company’s future fundraising plans.

He says working with Gormley has been a great experience. “Rowan is a really interesting guy. He set up three Virgin businesses for Sir Richard Branson, so I feel privileged to learn from such a figure.

“The great thing about him is he values attitude over experience. He put me in charge of a £35 million business aged 27 (before he was recently made UK managing director) with no experience of running a business, but I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, have delivered results and had a whole load of fun along the way.”

Posted in IndustryComments Off on Irishman to Run Fast-Growing UK Wine Business



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