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Meet your finalists: Food Processing Awards 2019

26 August 2019

The annual Food Processing Awards continue to acknowledge and recognise companies for their engineering excellence and innovation within the UK food and beverage manufacturing sector. 

This year the Awards ceremony will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Coventry on the evening of the annual Appetite for Engineering event – 17 October. There are nine award categories and nominations closed early in August. The judging panel has since had the unenviable task of choosing the finalists in each category and we present these now for your consideration.  To vote for your favourites simply email with AWARDS as a subject line – then list the categories and your winners!

Robotics & Automation solution or project (sponsored by OAL)

Mitsubishi Electric & Allied Bakeries
Allied Bakeries worked with Mitsubishi Electric to develop an automation solution to manage the non-stick surface coating on bread tins at its Walthamstow plant. Each tin is bar-coded and instead of re-coating them in large batches, the system records how many times each tin is used and detects when a loaf is not ejected cleanly out of the tin – showing signs of wear and the need for re-coating. By tracking each tin and then re-coating on demand, the plant has improved productivity and reduced inventory by £200k. The system, which is based on a PLC and HMI, has the capacity to check 10,000 loaf tins per hour. The solution helped make savings of £350+k in its first year of operation and is predicted to make savings of £500k in 2019. 

Adnams Brewery wanted to develop a compact robotic end-of-line palletising solution to allow the brewery to make better use of its available floor space, while meeting significant load demands – handling 160l metal barrels – FANUC specified its R-200iC/210L 6-axis palletising robot. With a maximum payload of 210kg, it was able to process full casks at the required rate of 250-300 barrels an hour to keep pace with the filling line. With a compact footprint of 771mm x 610mm, and a reach of 3100mm, it was also able to operate within the confined working environment of the brewery. Importantly, the robot body is IP54 rated.

The company has introduced an autonomous machine vision solution for quality assurance. The QA Professional solution can cost-effectively negate the need for manual inspection and is designed to be easy to set up without the need for a vision systems integrator. Its deep learning capabilities means that in minutes, it is possible to easily configure the system to inspect multiple products on the same line — something which has historically been impossible.

With robolink DCi, Igus offers a cost-effective robotic arm solution for the food industry that offers the benefits of flexibility for picking and packing applications, as well as handling packaging goods.  The robotic arm is suitable for lifting parts weighing up to 1kg with an accuracy of ±0.5mm and it can be installed and commissioned without prior robotics experience using online tutorials, simulation tools and other services. The modular control system of the robolink DCi, supplied by its software partner Commonplace Robotics, is located in the foot of the gripper arm of this 4- or 5-axis robot. This makes the articulated robotic arm compact and a permanent connection to the PC or control cabinet is not necessary.

Lean/Continuous improvement solution or project (sponsored by Mitsubishi Automation)

Senseye is an industrial operations software tool designed for use on the shop-floor by maintenance and operations teams to reduce unplanned downtime. It is designed to integrate seamlessly and provide maximum value by leveraging existing investments. In the food industry the solution has helped achieve maintenance efficiency improvements and extend asset life and to increase planned maintenance intervals and reduce inventory held. ROI for the software has been achieved in less than six months.

SENTINEL is a machine performance monitoring tool designed to provide information and feedback on product inline status and performance. Its data capture, analysis and customer reporting formats ensure faults or deteriorating productivity can be quickly identified by providing useful actionable information, derived from production line data. Equipment such as checkweighers, multihead weighers, tray sealers, graders and bagmakers can be connected to a central system manned remotely by Ishida engineers.

GE Digital and Astec IT Solutions  
A joint project to help Molson Coors drive its continuous improvement program, with a solution to help it maintain and improve the efficiency of the packaging lines using low-cost software.

As a UK Premier Solution Partner for GE Digital, Astec was able to implement a solution using GE’s low-cost commercial-off-the-shelf production automation software.  The new system was tailored to provide the appropriate information and KPIs and it helps identify faults and communicate these to operators. The solution provides a single source of information for past production, the current production plan, product specifications and quality check points as well as efficiency metrics spanning products, machines, production areas and even teams. 

SMC’s Productivity Solutions Strategy has utilised its experience to create an optimised productivity strategy for its customers. Using a  combination of the various Lean Six Sigma methodologies the strategy can help identify key business challenges and to create a bespoke business solutions strategy which enables companies to more quickly adapt to changing market conditions.

Hygiene & Food Safety solution or project (sponsored by BASF)

The OC Conveyor is a new ultra-hygienic conveyor. Key features include an enhanced design to ensure fast and thorough cleaning during wash down; fully folded construction to avoid food traps and prevent bacteria developing; open wiring looms for easier access for cleaning; and a wash-through chain transport system to speeds up the cleaning time and eliminating belt maintenance costs. The conveyor is equipped with a user-friendly menu-driven control panel and is capable of delivering up to 60 packs/min in a single lane configuration and up to 120 packs/min in a twin lane. 

The Blue Range Food Line lubricated for life bearing units from SKF are designed to improve hygiene and compliance with food safety regulations and to reduce maintenance and cleaning downtimes. The bearings can withstand frequent washdowns and are said to offer 33% faster cleaning of open units due to the hygiene design of all of its components and its relubrication free features.
The design and installation of a new four-channel CIP system with in-line monitoring system for Lancashire Dairy to ensure the company could continue its planned expansion and gives greater flexibility in cleaning up to four parts of the plant simultaneously. Each channel is further split to clean routing pipe work, incubator tanks, valves and pumps associated with finished products. Each CIP has its own validated ‘recipe’ staged wash cycle and can be traced back in time, date, recipe or route selection. The new system has resulted in a reduction in water consumption and energy for cleaning and has contributed to greatly reduced CIP times at the dairy. 

Wire Belt 
The Enhanced Hygienic Conveyor from Wire Belt meets EHEDG guidelines and complies with BS EN 1672-2, covering hygiene requirements for food processing machinery, and the EC Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.  The conveyor features an open, wash-through construction and open leg frames, so there are no hidden areas or crevices, while surfaces are self-draining. The control panel was also designed with hygiene in mind, with a sloped top for drainage, IP66 ingress protection and fully stainless-steel construction.

Process & Packaging solution or project (sponsored by TrakRap)

A hygienic version of the eXtended Transport System (XTS) sees Beckhoff’s linear motion technology driving movers around a track, independently of each other. It replaces mechanics with software functionality to allow for a higher degree of design freedom and reduces maintenance requirements. The XTS Hygienic is EHEDG complaint and meets the requirements for system certification according to EL Class I AUX. It has a protection rating of IP 69K and can cope with surfactants, acidic and alkaline cleaning agents, different alcohols and disinfectants and even hydrogen peroxide.

The DC Platform provides a matched range of controls, motor rollers and power units for conveying solutions to for the creation of more customised, individual solutions with Industry 4.0 functionality. The platform can be used to create a range of conveying solutions – from autonomous conveyors that can be commissioned without the need for a PLC, all the way to tailor-made, high-performance systems that can collect process data for use in preventive maintenance programmes.
Busch Pumps 
In independent tests undertaken by TÜV Süd, the operating principle of the R 5 RA 0630 C oil-lubricated rotary vane vacuum pump (RVVP) from Busch was found to outperform other vacuum pumps, in terms of pump-down time and energy consumption – in fresh foodstuff vacuum packaging applications.  

A project to design and install a swan-neck elevator conveyor required the inclusion of a high-impact flat top modular plastic belt able to absorb five-times the impact of standard belts to ensure the solution could cope with the impact of up to 400kg/hour of frozen sausages and meatballs. The conveyor needed to have an elevation angle of over 50° to achieve the incline height within a small footprint.

Smart / digital technology solution or project (Sponsored by Food Processing)

The Refrigerant Management online software available from Bacharach offers safety and legislative compliance in a single solution. The system provides refrigerant tracking and management tools and it includes a refrigerant review dashboard for enterprise management. It can create leak rate calculations, and offers a compliance calendar for task scheduling. The software is accessible from a desktop, laptop, or phone – direct from the cloud.

SICK & Autocoding 
A collaboration between SICK and AutoCoding Systems has resulted in the launch of 4Sight Automatic Print Inspection System, an automatic smart vision inspection system for printed coding and marking on packaging. This sees AutoCoding’s 4Sight software, operating on SICK’s Inspector P smart vision camera, to enable direct closed-loop communication of the printed message from any brand of printer using standard inkjet, laser or thermal transfer technologies. The solution offers an error-proof, high-speed inspection system for printed codes such as dates, batch and line numbers. The direct communication concept eliminates ‘nuisance stops’ and reduces set-up times.  

The addition of an AI controller into Omron’s Sysmac platform for factory automation will help drive holistic optimisation of the manufacturing process by streamlining the analysis of data to support continuous improvement programs. In contrast to cloud computing this solution, which features adaptive intelligence, is closer to the action and learns to distinguish normal patterns from abnormal ones for the individual machine. It collects, analyses and utilises data on Edge devices within a controller to prolong equipment longevity and detects unforeseen events to prevent failures. This can help reduce the risk of equipment damage and downtime. 

The Automation Platform solution from Festo helps in the move towards Industry 4.0 by ensuring seamless connectivity from the mechanics up to the Cloud for both electric and pneumatic drive technology. It can help speed up and simplify the design process and users benefit from seamless automation thanks to mechanical, electrical and intelligent connectivity – up to IoT and cloud solutions. 

Environmental / Sustainability solution or project (sponsored by Beckhoff)

J D Cooling 
A project to create an energy-efficient secondary cooling system for a client’s new fresh produce cold store. JD Industrial (JDI) (part of the JD Cooling Group), developed a revolutionary heat recovery system using the client’s existing biogas engine. Two inline heat recovery heat exchangers extract the waste heat from the exhaust gases to provide ‘free’ heating to a new factory.

As part of its regular water tank inspection and assessment service Clearwater Technology has introduced the HC Rapid25, a Legionella testing device to detect Legionella within 25 minutes instead of the more usual 10-12 days. This means the company is able to detect the presence of Legionella in water systems on site as part of a routine visit, which has not traditionally been possible. 

The TrakRap sustainable stretch wrapping system offers 100% recyclable secondary packaging solutions. The Packaging System also offers the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy usage by as much as 90% and materials usage by as much as 70%. It also offers fast operating speeds and is able to wrap as many as 50 packs per minute.

Tetra Pak & ABB 
Tetra Pak and ABB are collaborating to develop an energy assessment programme to help producers lower their environmental impact and cut costs.  The programme provides an assessment of the entire plant and gives recommendations on opportunities to reduce energy consumption. The programme can potentially reduce carbon emissions for food and beverage manufacturing and cut energy cost by between 15% and 25%.

Skills & development (Sponsored by SMC)

Winkworth, a designer and manufacturer of industrial mixing and blending machinery, is proactive in supporting new talent. This has largely been fulfilled by upskilling the existing workforce and inspiring and developing the next generation of engineers. As part of its HR strategy, the company has launched a number of employee focused initiatives including a formal review process, which has helped capture training needs. A competency matrix has also been developed so that the company can readily identify any skills gaps and act accordingly.

OAL has links with the University of Lincoln, Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, which allows it to invest in its people using tried and trusted skills. OAL offers additional training such as online platforms, external courses and in-house training sessions. There is also an extensive programme of internal training, ensuring that employee knowledge is shared throughout the organisation. At any one time OAL will have at least 30% of its workforce undertaking some form of training, with all levels and areas of the business taking part. 

Coca-Cola European Partners 
As a company CCEP believes that by investing in apprenticeships, the business can drive progress and innovation from the inside out. Since 2014, it has recruited 72 apprentices, and with the Apprenticeship Levy it hopes to continue to grow this number. The company’s primary focus is always empowering employees to acquire new knowledge. It has investedover £4 million in its GB education programme over the past six years, engaging some 500,000 young people. 

Bakkavor’s apprenticeship programmes are designed to develop the skills of young talent who want to embark on a new career in food manufacturing while working towards a nation-ally recognised qualification. Bakkavor offer an Advanced Apprenticeship, aimed at school leavers who have completed GCSE’s, and those starting in a new career, with Higher Ap-prenticeship for those who have typically gained A-Level qualifications and are hoping to fast-track their career. To compliment the qualification the company has designed a struc-tured internal training programme.
The Nestlé Engineering Apprentice programme lasts four years and mixes block release college studies with on the job work experience in a range of electrical and mechanical engineering technologies. Apprentices learn to develop their skills in areas such as safety standards, quality and hygiene.

Young Engineer of the Year (Sponsored by Festo) 

Jordan Brosnan 
Jordan is a newly qualified apprentice who has moved into a permanent Technician role within the Coca-Cola European Partners Morpeth Operation. Jordan’s values have stood out since his Apprentice Assessment day. During his assessment interview, he was asked why he would want to leave a well-paid, secure job.  His answer was:“I don’t want just a job - I also want a successful career”. Jordan has graduated from his CCEP apprenticeship programme, and has ut also completed his Degree in Engineering Management with a First Class Honours. This has been achieved while raising a young family, and he is only 23 years old.

Tobias Singh 
Toby completed his apprenticeship last summer and moved into a permanent Mechanical Line Technician role within the Coca-Cola European Partners East Kilbride Operation. Toby joined CCEP in 2014. At his graduation event he was named the top Engineering apprentice for his year among his peer group.  Since completion of his programme, Toby has been involved in the installation of the new £21 million plant for Capri-Sun, which will see him supporting new technology at the site. Toby has been one of the faces of CCEP’s Apprenticeship Programme since he joined the business and was part of the Made in GB campaign, which looks to inspire the next generation of apprentices.

Kayleigh Latraille
Kayleigh works at Cerberus, Bakkavor Meals in Spalding. She started with the company in September 2013 as a despatch operative. In 2017 she applied to become an engineering apprentice but was unsuccessful. Using her initiative she approached the engineering manager and her manager to ask if she could spend some time with the engineering department to learn some basic skills. She took every opportunity to spend time in engineering. She successfully passed the apprenticeship assessment and started the programme in September 2018. Since then she has shown passion and a great drive to succeed ensuring that she completes all assignments on time, digging down into the process to ensure complete understanding and actively seeking feedback on her performance and how she can continue to improve. 

Tom Dunn
Tom joined Bakkavor Salads in Bourne in the 2018 apprentice intake. He struggled to get to grips with his apprenticeship early on, partly due to some issues with the delivery of his apprenticeship standard by the provider. Instead of letting that affect him negatively he did everything he could to integrate himself into the engineering team and the site as a whole. He actively sought support from subject matter experts to help him with knowledge to support his learning as well as supporting the other Bakkavor apprentices in his cohort. He showed great patience and resilience while we worked with the provider to correct the programme delivery and this was reflected in him achieving a Merit for all but one of his end of year exams. His manager and mentor are very impressed with his drive and commitment to the role and think he is now a great asset to engineering onsite.

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