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Food Processing Awards 2021: the finalists

19 July 2021

The unwelcome interruption of the Covid-19 pandemic put paid to the 2020 Food Processing Awards, but we are back now for the 2021 Awards, having combined the best of the 2020 nominations with more recent nominations. 



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We are delighted to be able to once again get together to recognise companies for their engineering excellence and innovation within the UK food and beverage manufacturing sector, with the Food Processing Awards ceremony being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Coventry on the evening of the Appetite for Engineering 2021 event – 9th September. As in previous years, the judging panel has chosen four finalists for each of nine categories.  We now pass the baton to you to vote for your favourites by simply emailing Suzanne.gill@imlgroup.co.uk with AWARDS as a subject line – then list the categories and your winners!

SMART/DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

Harting – Han F&B Hygienic Connector 
With Han F+B, HARTING has created an interface that provides connectivity to meet food industry needs. Smooth surfaces make it harder for bacteria to accumulate. The hoods, housings and seals are robust and protect the internal contacts against hose water and aggressive cleaning agents, which are certified by Ecolab and have FDA 21 approvals. 

Solutions PT – Yeo Valley SCADA installation
Yeo Valley wanted to replace its aging hardware and upgrade its SCADA technology. A key objective was to establish a secure systems back-up to protect data in the event of an issue arising with any platform. SolutionsPT devised an integrated digital solution which simplifies day-to-day operations while ensuring uptime and data protection. The solution comprised a fault tolerant Stratus ftServer to host virtualised production machines. The solution is said to be easy to deploy, manage and service, while offering 99.999% availability.

VEGA – Battery-powered level sensor for remote stock monitoring 
A new hybrid level sensing technology from VEGA offers a simplified and self-contained remote stock monitoring solution. The non-contact, battery-powered sensors incorporate Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) capability to provide remote data via wireless communication using standard global wireless networks and location via GPS. 

Mettler- Toledo – ProdX product inspection management software
Based on Industry 4.0 principles of secure machine-to-machine communication, and in preparation for connectivity to Blockchain technology, ProdX data management software is a PC-based client server solution which monitors and manages data collected from METTLER TOLEDO product inspection devices. It supports and maximises rigorous quality control regimes, drives production optimisation and simplifies production line operation.

HYGIENE & FOOD SAFETY (Sponsored by Minebea Intec)

Osprey Deepclean – Dry steam belt cleaning solution for Deeside Cereals
The aim was  to reduce water use as part of the company’s goal of aligning its environmental targets to the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) five-fold environmental ambitions. Before the system was installed water cost the company £4.56 per tonne of finished product. After installation that figure reduced to £3.59 per tonne of product. 

BST Detectable Products – XDETECT v3.0 

BST has received Halal approval for the majority of products made with its XDETECT v3.0 material. This compliments the Kosher accreditation that was acquired in 2018. The XDETECT food safe detectable compound has been tested against EU, FDA and Japanese food contact criteria, with the full documentation, including migration test data. This polypropylene compound is metal detectable, x-ray visible and antibacterial, which means that it actively protects against germs and mould.

Teknomek – Bespoke cutting table
A customer’s continuous improvement team identified the need for a bespoke cutting table to allow for more efficient processing of lamb throat sweetbreads. The Teknomek solution factored in hygienic best practice and also helped speed up clean-down times between batches by up to 50% and reduced operating costs over time.

Euchner – Electronic-Key-System (EKS) 
This solution provides a secure password alternative to protect processes and increase product safety. For ingredient delivery, one chocolate manufacturer has reduced the need for 32 key-operated rotary switches to direct the raw ingredients to the right station, to just four read stations. This makes the process of receiving new raw ingredients into the warehouse more effective.

ENVIRONMENTAL & SUSTAINABILITY

Green Eco Technologies – The WasteMaster food waste conversion system 

This diverts organic waste from methane-generating landfill by converting organic waste, on site, into a residue, which can be used to provide green energy. An innovative technology accelerates the decomposition of food waste without water or additives, turning it into a small quantity of virtually odour free, storable, compost-like, material within 24 hours. 

Goplasticpallets – Plastic pallets 
These pallets offer a durable and consistent solution in automated environments. Over 95% of the plastic pallets are made from recycled materials and can themselves be recycled at the end of their useful lives. In a fully automated system, the pallets could last for up to 20 years, providing a sustainable, environmentally-friendly and more hygienic alternative to wooden pallets.  

Seepex – Waste removal solution for Natures Way Foods 
A hygienic sealed waste removal system was needed by the company for its coleslaw and potato salad production line, to handle different food wastes and also the plastic pots in which they were contained. SEEPEX built two waste removal systems – one for packaged food waste, which is sent for anaerobic digestion; and one for the remaining organic waste, which is sent for composting. Reject products are tipped into tote bins, fitted with level sensors. Once they reach a certain level, the tipper is activated to drop the waste into a bespoke open hopper PC pump system and the waste is then pumped into the ceiling space before being dewatered and compacted. 

Grundfos Pumps – Water pumping solution for Britvic 
A new pumping system in operation at the Britvic Rugby plan has helped the company meet its energy targets. The packaged booster set solution has resulted in a reduction in energy costs of 45% for pumping water around the facility. This translates into cost savings of around £60,000 per year. The system offers a solution that delivers the correct varying amounts of water, at the right pressure, across the plant. The system was also designed with future expansion in mind, with the ability to deliver over 400m3/hr.

ROBOTICS & AUTOMATION (Sponsored by ifm electronic)

Brillopak – UniPAKer dual robot cells for Morrisons Potato Processing & Packing Plant
The solution loads fresh produce (1kg max) from VFFS, tray-sealed and flow wrapped packs into retailer crates/cases. The automated solution has improved pack presentation in crates and has reduced waste and reliance on agency staff. The lines now run consistently at high speed with no product build-up. 

Schoeller Allibert – BaYoPal repairable pallets 
The  impact-resistant, rackable pallet range is a heavy-duty, sustainable, plastic solution built from a collection of replaceable components. BaYoPal offers static load capabilities of 6,000kg with a dynamic load capacity of 1,500kg. It is suited to use in automated warehousing environments.

On Robot – Food-grade soft gripper 
The gripper can pick a variety of irregular shaped and delicate food items weighing under 2.2kg. It can be integrated into most collaborative and light industrial robots and it complies with FDA 21 CFR for non-fatty items and EC 1935/2004 and requires no external air supply.

Kawasaki – Robot packaging solution for Sfoglia Torino 
The company wanted a solution to speed up the packaging of three different sizes of vol-au-vents direct from a conveyor into thermoformed blister packs. One challenge associated with handling the pastry was how to pick up such a delicate product. Kawasaki YF-03N delta robots, equipped with vacuum gripping devices, are able to lift the individual vol-au-vent cases three at a time with precision and speed. The solution has enhanced productivity for the bakery. 

PROCESS & PACKAGING

SMC – Series ZP3P vacuum pads
These pads are able to handle packed bags that traditionally deface during manipulation including uneven, soft, variable or very thin (film-wrapped even) workpieces.  The bright blue colour of the pad makes it detectable – important in food applications. It is also FDA approved.

Kecol – Reducing waste for Burtons Biscuits 

The company was able to significantly reduce waste when transferring caramel, by installing two priming systems incorporating Kecol H800SN Maxiprime unit c/w 10:1 ratio piston pumps. Kecol was able to customise its standard system to meet the specific requirements of this application. It has  helped reduce waste caramel from between 10% and 30% to less than 1%, significantly reducing expenditure and increasing yield. 

Holmach/OAL – The Perficooker range of rapid cooking systems 
Powered by OAL’s Steam Infusion Vaction technology – a direct contact heating process whereby steam condenses on the surface of a liquid, gently yet rapidly cooking it up to a temperature of 140°C – the Perficooker can rapidly heat, mix and pump food ingredients and products. The system can heat 1,000kg of product from 15°C to 90°C in under 10 minutes with no burn-on or particulate damage.

Marel – The I-Cut PortionCutter 
This range of high-speed, high-precision single lane intelligent portion cutters is available in different versions designed to meet application requirements for cutting raw materials. The processing software ensures programming flexibility and offers a range of specialised cutting patterns to reduce waste. The portion cutter can be integrated with other equipment for optimised cutting and batching processes. 

LEAN  & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT (Sponsored by SMC)

Ishida – Inspection solution for Viba Sweets 
The IX-EN X-ray inspection system was chosen to replace a legacy X-ray system.  Because the fruit bars are very light, their positions and the gaps between them on the conveyor belt can change, resulting in a risk of contaminated products not being reliably rejected. The IX-EN x-ray inspection system was developed for checking thin, lightweight and comparatively homogeneous products. The X-ray beam passes through the fruit bars onto a line sensor and, depending on the strength of the returning X-ray beam, a grey-scale image is produced. Any particles denser than the product itself appear as dark spots on the image. An HMI provides immediate information on the nature of the foreign bodies and exactly where in the product they are. 

Sparc/Fortress – The Raptor Combi combined metal detector and checkweighing conveyor system
The Raptor Combi accurately inspects and checks the weight of larger size products and pack formats – up to 8kg and measuring 300mm by 400mm. The Raptor features paperless, fully auditable COP test routine which pre-configures every test by retailer and product being inspected and alerts QA managers each time a test is overdue. Inspecting up to 150 packs per minute, the Raptor checkweigher is also able to calculate Average Finished Weight Variance.

Schaeffler – OPTIME condition monitoring solution 
This enables maintenance and production teams to monitor their machines without the need for any specialist knowledge, enabling cost-effective monitoring of a high number of machines. The OPTIME CMS comprises of wireless, battery-operated sensor units, a gateway with SIM card, analysis software on an IoT hub and an app, or web-based dashboard. Sensors record vibrations and temperature data which is used to determine the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). They connect with one another automatically to form a mesh network and data is transferred to a hub for continuous, automatic analysis.

QSS – Proactive inspection equipment maintenance
QSS provides a range of tools that can reduce the risk of unexpected downtimes. Sensors provide frequent monitoring and deliver measurable improvements in the performance and efficiency of a production line. We are told that it provides a total systems analysis that supports predictive and preventative maintenance on key equipment. The system can link to a CRM system to help identify a pattern of scheduled component replacement for each piece of equipment enabling users to predict and prevent breakdowns.

SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT (Sponsored by Omron)

Princes: Five apprentices from the College of West Anglia’s (CWA) Wisbech campus were the first cohort nationwide to achieve the Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Engineering Maintenance (FDEM) and complete their End-Point Assessments (EPAs). All five apprentices work at Princes Foods.

Clearly Drinks:  The World Class Operator programme looks to nurture and train future manufacturing talent. The programme, created in partnership with Derwentside College, allows Clearly Drinks to continue to grow and develop its frontline workers on the production line and increase its pool of highly skilled manufacturing talent.

Britvic:  Britvic’s Young Person Programme, takes on four sixth formers each year as part of the Studio Schools government initiative. The programme offers students practical work experience alongside their schoolwork at its National Distribution Centre. The programme has been a career pathway for local young people with 93% of students who graduated gaining permanent or temporary roles at Britvic or one of its partners. 

PepsiCo: The company’s ‘Grow our own’ Training and Education Programme has focused on creating development initiatives designed to unlock the potential of frontline supply chain talent. It aims to have a positive impact on everyday life in addition to offering formal accredited qualifications and ensuring employees feel valued as vital members of the team.

YOUNG ENGINEER (Sponsored by Festo)

Amelia Cockran is a Mechanical & Electrical Engineering Apprentice at Coca-Cola European Partners’ Sidcup factory. In her short time with the company Amelia has already been appointed to lead on a crucial new project, based on her strong technical and problem-solving skills. She is responsible for building a CNC machine to reduce waste and save the business around £1m worth of stock within two years. Amelia has also become a key advocate for the manufacturing and engineering industry as a whole, delivering talks within her local community and at careers fairs on her role at CCEP. 

Daniel Minto, Nestle Apprentice 2016-2020. 
Dan started as an engineering apprentice with Nestle in September 2016. He excelled in both his academic and practical sessions at the local college and it was clear that he had the potential to be an outstanding young engineer. His academic study resulted in him achieving a clean sweep of distinctions in every unit at level 3 and 4, culminating in a distinction grade overall. In the early stages of his apprenticeship he was an attentive and willing learner. Once he had established himself amongst the team, he was able to undertake more complex tasks using his own initiative which greatly accelerated his learning and subsequently his reputation for delivering excellence. In the latter stages of his apprenticeship he was entrusted with some major projects including creating standard maintenance practice documentation for every planned maintenance task within his department. He also took control of the lubrication schedule for all designated machinery in that department and implemented the use of vibration analysis/condition monitoring on gearboxes, pumps, bearings etc. He moved to shift working in 2018 as he was able to respond to and successfully rectify a range of technical issues that lead to reduced downtime and improved reliability. He was also tasked with reducing change-over time between product variants. In 2020 his NVQ level 3 was completed with ease and at an incredibly high standard which allowed him to be promoted to the engineering technician group as fully qualified maintenance engineer.

Amy White is a Level 3 Mechanical and Electrical Engineering apprentice taking the Food & Drink maintenance Engineering diploma at CCEP’s Wakefield site. Despite the pandemic causing disruption to day-to-day operations, Amy took on new roles and responsibilities and has worked tirelessly during team absences, demonstrating her ability to quickly adapt and learn new skills and new pro-active maintenance technology. Amy has been ambassador for the business both internally and externally, presenting to senior members of the team and sharing her knowledge and experience with colleagues. She has also spoken to school leavers to encourage them to follow in her footsteps. 


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