JBT Corporation’s acquisition of Wisconsin-based A&B Process Systems in October 2015 will surely come to be viewed as a major step forward for both companies. The integration of the business has not only helped JBT offer a more complete, one-stop product solution, it has also enabled A&B to expand globally.
Troy Weik, A&B’s Director of Operations, who began his career as a process engineer, and advanced through the organization into his current position, explains how the changes undergone by the company are revolutionizing the way A&B works.
In what ways has A&B changed since it became part of JBT?
Troy Weik: The biggest change has been the ability to take A&B globally, which was a long-time goal of ours. A&B had been primarily a domestic supplier, especially in engineering, installation and automation services, with some manufactured goods being shipped overseas by US customers including Nestlé and General Mills.
The acquisition has brought the ability to grow and expand our offerings. Over the last year, we’ve been getting connected with the different JBT facilities around the world for us to understand their capabilities and, they, our capabilities. In the past, A&B has been limited up to the point of further processing, packaging and filling. We didn’t have the expertise, but now combined with JBT’s product offerings, we are able to bring a total solution to our customers.
What synergies is A&B benefitting from with other JBT businesses?
We’ve gained good traction in that area. We have several opportunities right now where we have batch retorts that we want to combine with our product line, as well as the packaging and filling applications, so we can propose it as a complete solution to customers.
A&B has engineering expertise on anything that’s pumpable, whether that be in food, dairy, confectionery or pharmaceuticals, we have experience in those areas. Clean In Place (CIP) is also an area where we’re very strong that we’re trying to integrate with other JBT products.
“Combined with JBT’s product offerings, we are able to bring a total solution to our customers”
Whereas in the past, JBT sold specific products like fillers and retorts, getting the processed ingredients to those points and cleaning the systems was beyond the scope of supply. These are areas of expertise for A&B so now we can provide CIP equipment, engineering and design, and automation systems to integrate the facilities in order to provide a one-stop shopping experience to our customers.
What further opportunities do you see for A&B in liquid foods?
We’re looking at different opportunities within the tomato market, which is a strong area for JBT. Additionally, we’re looking to pursue opportunities in aseptic processing, another strong JBT product line – they have the sterilization expertise and we have the vessels, process piping, mixing and blending systems, which are utilized to provide a complete process solution.
“Over the next 12 months, we expect to see more of an expanded global integration for A&B”
We’re also exploring more in terms of juicing systems, which is where our association with JBT began. The reason JBT found A&B is we worked on a sweet potato juice processing facility with them – the first one either of us had ever done. That’s a new market and there are more ready-to-drink opportunities they are pursuing that we can assist with.
Looking ahead, how might A&B’s role within JBT develop further?
We’re in central Wisconsin, which is the hub of dairy processing, and we’ve been working in that market for several years. Similar to JBT, we are also well established in the food, beverage, and meat industries. We are looking forward to introducing JBT to the pharmaceutical industry by continuing to be a key partner for our customers – providing our modular skidded systems and vessels, as well as installation capabilities, to the marketplace.
Over the next 12 months, we expect to see more of an expanded global integration for A&B with JBT facilities worldwide, taking more of our product lines to global markets and expanding our installation capabilities beyond US borders. That’s a major priority for us, as well as insourcing more JBT products from a manufacturing standpoint.