Veg firm weighs up 20% production boost | Project Profile

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Veg firm weighs up 20% production boost | Project Profile

February 14
11:43 2013

When Norfolk vegetable processor Pinguin Foods set itself an aim to increase throughput by a fifth, it looked to Ishida to upgrade its ageing checkweighing set-up. Philip Chadwick finds out more about the installation

Who Pinguin Foods
Aim The frozen vegetable processor and packer needed new weighers to boost production throughput in its Kings Lynn facility by 20%
Spend Undisclosed
What Ishida weighers – 24 head CCW-R multihead weigher and four 5 litre hopper 14 head models
When Early 2012

Pinguin Foods is a supplier of vegetable and potato-based easy to prepare products. The company, part of the Belgian PinguinLutosa group, has a facility in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, which processes and packs vegetables.

The company has been investing heavily in its processing and packing operations with a multi-million pound spend on high-tech kit including colour sorters that can detect imperfections in the vegetables and reject them at high speeds. But to improve efficiency, Pinguin felt that it needed to upgrade its weighing equipment. The company already had a raft of old Ishida equipment.

“It is vital that we keep up with the times,” says Pinguin Foods chief engineer Paul Spurrell. “The high quality standards that we set ourselves and which our customers demand mean we have to invest in the latest and best equipment.”


The target was clear: to increase throughput by 20%. Alongside its other investments the company went for five new Ishida weighers: a 24 head CCW-R multihead weigher with three litre hoppers for mixed vegetables; and four 5 litre hopper 14-head models for single varieties, which include carrots, peas, sweetcorn, beans, broccoli and cauliflower.


According to Spurrell, installation “went like clockwork” and the new weighers have proved to be easy to operate. Ishida Europe marketing manager Torsten Giese explains that new equipment went into the Kings Lynn plant in stages, so it didn’t disrupt the business.

The Ishidas handle pack sizes of between 125g and 2.5kg including mixed vegetables of two, three and four varieties on the 24 head mix weigher. The weighers have also been designed for special pack requirements. One weigher, for example, is set up in a ‘double dump’ format and is used to pack 10kg boxes.

“Another advantage is their flexibility,” adds Pinguin packaging hall manager Steve Walton. “We can easily switch product from line to line depending on requirements. That was something not possible with our previous volumetric and older multihead models.”

According to Ishida Europe marketing manager Torsten Giese, automation was another key part of the offer because, he says, it helps to further increase efficiency on the production line.
He says: “They can go to another level of performance. We have been able to increase the accuracy enabling a massive improvement in productivity and cost savings. The investments have also future proofed the business.”

Typical speeds are around 75 packs per minute for a 1kg pack, which, according to Ishida, are well within the weigher’s capabilities of 90 packs per minute. The weighers are in operation 24 hours a day, five days a week.

Spurrell says: “We are continuing to work on further developing the performance of the lines. Our focus is not just on speed but on delivering the consistency and ensuring that the weighers are fully integrated so that they work as efficiently as possible with existing equipment.”

The DACS-W checkweighers feature Ishida’s Digital Signal Processing chip which permits “accurate signal processing under a wide range of weighing conditions”. This goes with an Ishida built load cell that delivers, according to the kit supplier, high sensitivity, response and accuracy.  Speed and accuracy are further enhanced by the lightweight conveyor, enhanced direct drive motor and a special low friction belt.


So far, Pinguin is edging towards its 20% target. “In the last few months that they [the weighers] have been installed we have already achieved a 15% improvement in throughput so we are well on the way to reaching our 20% target,” explains Spurrell.

Further investment in Ishida kit is on the cards. Pinguin is planning to convert a final line to incorporate Ishida kit.

“We are a forward looking company and constantly challenging ourselves to deliver the highest standards to our customers,” says Pinguin Foods UK managing director Nigel Terry. “This means we are committed to continual investment in the best equipment that will help us deliver on these promises.  Ishida weighers are a key part of this.”

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