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Here are your 2017 Food Processing Award finalists...

03 September 2017

The Food Processing Awards are designed to acknowledge and recognise companies for their excellence and innovation within the UK food and beverage engineering sector. The 2017 Awards ceremony will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Coventry on the evening of the annual Appetite for Engineering event on 19th October (which is taking place at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry). 

This year we have nine awards up for grabs and have been collecting together nominations over the past few months. The judging panel sat down together recently and after much debate managed to whittle the nominations down to the following finalists. So, for your consideration this year we have the following…

To vote for your favourite finalists all you need to do is email the company name and the award category in the subject line to

Robotics & Automation (Sponsored by Omron)

Marel: RoboBatcher Flex and I-Cut 122 PortionCutter integration
The company has created a new product by integrating its RoboBatcher Flex and I-Cut 122 PortionCutter to reduce product giveaway. Instead of cutting chicken fillets to one ideal average, this concept focuses on assessing individual breast fillets and only cuts what is needed. This allows for selective cutting, based on recipe requirements. Whenever a fillet enters the I-Cut 122, it is scanned and its weight is calculated. This information is sent to the RoboBatcher Flex, which decides what happens next, based on the recipes provided. 

OAL: APRIL Robotics cooking cell 
The APRIL Robotics Cooking Cell automates the manufacturing of soups, sauces and ready-meals, emulating how chefs cook in a kitchen. Within the cell, the robot moves pans combining ingredients, heating, cooling, mixing, pouring and processing multiple recipes at once, on an industrial scale.  

APRIL takes a fresh look at how food is processed. It offers an adaptable, flexible and consistent solution. The removal of pumps and pipework and parallel processing can result in an 80% smaller factory footprint than traditional set-ups while also reducing the amount of waste caused by large vessels, pumps and pipework.

Pacepacker: Pallet+ packing and palletising technology
Pacepacker Services has developed pallet stacking software that cuts programming tasks by over 400% and reduces waste caused by badly stacked delivery pallets by 10%. Catering to fast-changing product formats, packaging shapes and sizes, Pallet+ software enables factory operatives to change, store and recall new or revised robotic palletising and case loading recipes in just a few minutes instead of hours. 

With Pallet+ operatives are also able to enter new packaging programmes without needing to understand complex programming language. 

Continuous Improvement (Sponsored by SMC Pneumatics)

Mitsubishi Electric: Smart Condition Monitoring (SCM) solution
This solution combines FAG SmartCheck sensors from Schaeffler with Mitsubishi Electric control technologies, which together can monitor a range of machine parameters to help with the implementation of predictive maintenance strategies to help increase machine availability and reduce unscheduled downtime. 

Individual sensors provide an in-built traffic light warning indication at the machine while also transferring the data over Ethernet to the smart sensor controller for in-depth monitoring and more detailed analysis. The solution can provide recommendations on what remedial actions should be taken, with text messages presented to personnel. 

Tetra Pak: Predictive maintenance solution for liquid food customers 
Tetra Pak has been able to analyse operational performance data from more than 5,000 of its connected filling machine lines. This data is now being used to advise customers on their maintenance needs in a timely and effective way, allowing them to order parts in advance, schedule manpower, and plan other repairs during the scheduled downtime. 

Tetra Pak ran a six-month pilot of the new service in January 2016, supporting 17 lines across 10 customers in Europe and the Americas. During this period, downtime was eliminated by up to 48 hours for each line, saving up to 30,000 Euros for those involved.

Brammer: Insite maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) solution
Employed at the Heineken Hereford Cider Mill the Insite solution allows the engineering team to refocus their attention onto their core tasks, with a Brammer employee being permanently in-situ to handle the stores and supplies. 

Since Insite was implemented at the facility the time taken for engineers to access MRO products has been reduced – to less than 40 seconds, in comparison to between two and four minutes previously. The facility has also benefitted from the time saved to procur the stock.

Busch Pumps: R5 rotary vane vacuum pump
The R 5 RD is the latest generation within the R 5 product family and is the result of the company’s continuous development of rotary vane technology for over 50 years. 

Rotary vane vacuum pumps are normally used for the evacuation of the vacuum chamber. Benefits of the latest generation of the RS vacuum pumps are said to include reduced energy consumption; reduced heat emission and optimised heat direction; and fast and easy maintenance.

Young Engineer of the Year (Sponsored by Festo)

Maxine Ford: Yeo Valley 
Maxine took an interesting path to her Engineering Apprenticeship at Yeo Valley. She had already achieved an NVQ Level 3 qualification in hairdressing but, after a short time in the trade decided there was more to life, so took a career-changing leap as a night hygiene operator at Yeo Valley in Cannington. With a shortage of skilled engineers in the area, Yeo Valley had set up an apprenticeship scheme in 2013.  Max successfully secured one of the six apprenticeships available. Three years later she was awarded a distinction in her BTEC and NVQ Level 3.  She is now in the second year of a HNC.

Maya Parmar: Premier Foods, Carlton
Maya is a third-year MEng Food Engineering student studying at Sheffield Hallam University. She is a STEM ambassador. She chose to study Food Engineering because of how much support she feels the food industry gives in relation to what is taught, as well as the several placement opportunities that are available to give the ability to build on the knowledge
gained at university.

Matthew Ayre: Software engineer at OAL
Matthew joined OAL with one year’s electrical experience and a degree in aircraft engineering. He wanted to become an automation engineer in the food industry because of the scale of problem-solving challenges involved in this sector.

Matt has learnt the technical and soft skills to become a valuable member of the automation team. His background and skills have provided a great narrative to engage new graduates to the industry at school leaver events. His technical skills and attitude to work have contributed to both OAL and its customer’s success. He has also begun to mentor and coach younger members of OAL’s automation team and has been leading standardised coding practices.

Ashley Mickle: Workshop engineering apprentice at L.A.C Conveyors
Before joining L.A.C Conveyors, Ashley worked as a qualified specialist technician reconditioning fuel pumps and injectors. He took a drop in pay to take on the apprentice role, taking the longer view, seeing that when he qualified his earning potential would be much greater than the role he was leaving with better career development opportunities.

Ashley is proving to be a reliable, conscientious and skilled worker and has been involved with several major projects over the last 12 months. He was invited to be involved with the design team to learn all the skills required to help deliver successful projects. L.A.C Conveyor Systems is now supporting him through a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering. 

Lifetime Achievement (Sponsored by Food Processing)

We are keeping this one safely under our belt for now. We have already decided on a winner but want it to be a surprise!

Hygiene & Food Safety (Sponsored By GEA)

BST Detectable Products: XDETECT
XDETECT is not a new technology, but has been evolved and refined continuously since its launch in 2009. The past few years have seen the material being applied to many new products such as boxes, security seals and tie tags. The company has also worked to improve, research and test the material to ensure it continues to meet the need of the food industry.

With the number of foreign body contamination incidents increasing there is an need to eliminate sources of foreign body contamination which makes detectable materials vital.

Bio-Oxygen Europe: Bio-Oxygen
Bio-Oxygen is an oxygen-based air sterilisation system that promises to eliminate 99% of mould and bacteria in the air and on surfaces without the need for equipment or chemicals. It is safe for the consumer, for employees and for the environment. The system takes the oxygen molecules in the ambient air and rearranges them into Oxygen Clusters which kill bacteria, fungus, yeast, mould, mildew, spores, Protozoa and other pathogens and also remove odours, gases and chemical fumes and repels cockroaches and rodents. Once the system is installed and switched on it will continuously work in the air flow. 

Blucher: HygienicClean channel and grate cleaning solution
HygienicClean is a hygienic and time-saving channel washer for drainage systems which saves time and water as it cleans both channel and grating at the same time.

HygienicClean is constructed from solid steel and shock-proof plastic. It is also easy to use as it can be connected to existing cleaning equipment. To ensure a healthy working environment HygienicClean can be set according to the operators height in an ergonomically correct working position.

Mettler Toledo: Safeline Profile Advantage metal detector
The Profile Advantage metal detector uses a combination of Multi-Simultaneous Frequency (MSF) and Product Signal Suppression technology to overcome the issues caused by ‘product effect’. Software algorithms enable the detection of much smaller metal contaminants than was previously possible, as well as significantly reducing false reject rates.

Process & Packaging (Sponsored by Gardner Denver)

VEGA: 80Ghz radar technology
VEGAPULS 64 was the first contactless radar level transmitter for liquids that measures at 80 GHz frequency which allows for tighter focusing of the radar beam allowing the sensor to be used in vessels with internal installations or heavy build up on the walls. VEGAPULS 64 offers a wide dynamic range that allows media with poor reflective properties to be measured, easily and accurately. Even foam, turbulent product surfaces, condensation or build up on the antenna do not pose a problem.

WATSON MARLOW: MasoSine Certa process pump
Certa is one of only two pumps globally to have achieved EHEDG Type EL Aseptic Class 1 certification which allows it to be used in aseptic processes without the need for additional certification. It also helps to reduce CIP cycles and the amount of water and cleaning agents required.

The pump’s sinusoidal rotor gently carries fluid through the pump, helping to dramatically reduce shear, while cutting power consumption by up to 50% with high viscosity fluids.

WMH: Giving an old line a new lease of life at Samworth Brothers. 
A control system was at the heart of the project to refurbish and repurpose a redundant line. Chris Terry at Samworth Brothers, said: “WMH provided us with a simple clean approach to producing our products.  The design and automation team removed much of the complicated equipment and outdated safety circuit system resulting in a control panel a fifth of the original size.”  

Axflow: Waukesha Universal TS (Twin Screw) pump
Twin-screw pump technology brings new benefits to the food sector. The Universal TS range is approved to 3A and EHEGE. The range can cope with media temperatures from -40°C to +149°C, and can handle solids of up to 45mm in diameter.
The pump provides a gentle pumping action and pulse-free flow which is useful when feeding viscous products into homogenisers or temperature sensitive products into heat exchangers. It is also able to pump a range of viscosities, ranging from yogurt and peanut butter through to milk and CIP fluids. The ability to gently pump different viscositites is one of the main benefits of pump.  

Skills & Development (Sponsored by the Food Manufacturing Engineering Group)

Atlas Copco: Talent Development Programme
To provide a flexible inclusive route for engineering talent to join, Atlas Copco has introduced its 2020 Mission which helps ensure employees have the opportunity to grow and succeed in a culture of innovation, diversity, individual responsibility and personal development. Its engineering career opportunities go beyond being just compressor jobs or similar. The company has ensured that the correct training and career path development is always available.

Technical Training Solutions (TTS): Line-breaking training solution for Kelloggs 
Process pipework can be broken or damaged during maintenance, cleaning and repair work, so compliance with a line breaking policy is critical. Recognising this Kelloggs UK introduced a training programme at its production plant in Manchester, with the help of TTS, which developed a practical course with several training rigs that simulate real industrial pipework. 

Pacepacker: Addressing wider food factory skills gaps
Pacepacker is pioneering a skills and development programme aligned to the educational system, economic labour market needs, the manufacturing workforce and future business agendas. It includes a mix of funding two four-year advanced apprenticeship schemes with workshop practices and assembly; Delivering free ROI/OEE/automation optimisation workshops and open house events for end-users; Investing in its workforce, resulting in 96% retention; Collaborating with schools and local authorities hosting guided tours/STEM open days. 

Ocado Engineering: Addressing the skills gap
Ocado Engineering offers a number of different training initiatives to address the engineering skills gap and to encourage women into the industry through a series of presentations and by engaging with charities such as the Prince’s Trust to encourage young people into engineering. As Ocado Engineering grows, it aims to expand its outreach efforts. It is currently supporting a number of staff through their journey towards professional registration. 

Future-Factory Enabling Technologies (Sponsored by Wago)

ABB: Ability Smart Sensor
Ability Smart sensors can be fitted to low-voltage motors to transmit performance data wirelessly to the cloud. This information can help improve strategic effectiveness. It can reduce downtime by as much as 70% and extend motor lifetime by up to 30%. 

Mettler Toledo: Connecting metal detection to factories of the future
The latest generation of Safeline metal detectors employ a technique known as emulation which allows operators to mirror the Human Machine Interface (HMI) of one or multiple in-line machines onto networked devices, including mobile phones, tablets and laptops, as well as other production line equipment. Access to the metal detector data records is essential for quality management processes to meet compliance requirements. By leveraging industry standard Virtual Network Computing (VNC) protocols, Emulation technology can simplify access to the metal detector HMI panel to deliver operational efficiencies and improve worker safety representation solution, delivering both safety and productivity benefits.

B&R: Orange Box 
The new Orange Box consists of a controller and preconfigured software blocks which enables operators to collect and analyse data from previously isolated machines and lines. The controller is able to collect operating data from any machine via its I/O channels or a fieldbus connection. With this data, the software modules generate and display OEE ratings and other KPIs, and can share the information with higher-level systems via OPC UA. Nestle was one of the first users of the system. Ralf Hagen, Nestle Germany said: “Orange Box has offered us a solution to a very specific requirement. We needed something that was simple, reliable, sustainable, real-time capable and future-proofed. We are aiming for intelligent analysis that identifies the root causes of a problem before the problem ever occurs. Over the next four years, we want to get to a place where the machines warn us of an impending stoppage in advance, rather than having to troubleshoot after the fact the way we do now. Eventually, there should be no more unplanned downtime whatsoever, and the Orange Box will help us increase both machine availability and output.”

OAL: APRIL Robotics Weighing Station 
For scooping and weighing tasks the APRIL Robotics Weighing Station swaps the operator for a collaborative robot and automates the weighing of dry ingredients. Implementing an automated robotic weighing station into a food manufacturing facility enables weighing 100g loads to an accuracy of 1g every time. The weighing cell can work at a speed of 0.5 to 100g per second with free and non-free flowing materials on up to 20 ingredients at one time. 

The autonomous element of the micro ingredient weighing system ensures each ingredient of a recipe is correctly weighed removing the risk of material giveaway and unnecessary financial losses.

Environmental / Sustainability (Sponsored by Lafert)

Gardner Denver: ROBOX energy, screw compressor with permanent magnet motor
Gardner Denver has reduced the energy costs for the aeration of sludge tanks in wastewater treatment plants with its Robox Energy screw compressor which employs gearless, direct drive technology with permanent magnet motors.

The low power consumption of these electric motors – better than IE4 – and the integration of the control technology in the overall ‘wastewater treatment plant’ system results in energy benefits in comparison to the blowers that were previously used in this area with conventional three-phase asynchronous motors, which drive the compressor screws via gears. With these new compressors, it is possible to reduce the high-energy costs for generating blow air for the biological treatment stage by around 30% in comparison to the rotary lobe blowers which are normally used.

TrakRap: The TrakRap stretch wrapping machine
The TrakRap system is a stretch wrapping machine that uses the company’s ‘cold wrap’ technology to eliminate the need for heat tunnels, which are replaced with seven microns thick C8 LLDPE – a 100% recyclable polymer film. The result is a stretch wrapping solution that reduces energy usage by approximately 90%, while also using 70% less film. 

Furthermore, thanks to an innovative pay-per-use financing model, the machine offers an affordable option for food manufacturers as it requires no upfront capital expenditure. This helps to level the playing field for those SMEs who want to challenge the dominance of the biggest brands but lack the funds to purchase expensive equipment outright.

Spirax Sarco: Heat pipe heat exchangers
Many food and beverage heat exchange application demands can be accommodated with Spirax Sarco’s modularised standard range of pipe heat exchangers, where cartridges of heat pipes are installed into a standard heat exchanger casing that is suitable for the application. Such a solution can eliminate many of the traditional problems associated with conventional heat transfer designs.

GEA: RedAstrum heat pumps
RedAstrum is a series of standard ammonia heat pumps developed to meet the increasing demand for more efficient heating solutions. GEA has been using this solution to help the food industry to reuse its process heat within the plant where the company has regularly seen reductions in fuel use of greater than 60%.

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