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Remote testing gives JBT customers access to travel-free, filmed results

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Although restrictions on movement are gradually easing, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw up challenges for JBT customers when it comes to the testing and validation of equipment, including the sterilization and pasteurization of sensitive products and packaging. To overcome travel restrictions for JBT technicians and customers alike, JBT’s Process Technology Center (PTC) in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium has introduced a new, virtual testing service, which allows customers to view their products being tested at a safe distance.

Utilizing a high-definition camera attached to large viewing windows at the Technology Center’s new pilot retort installation, customers can remotely inspect the effects of high temperature and pressure on products and packaging during testing, helping identify how and why problems might occur.

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“We have simulators to replicate sterilization and pasteurization processes at JBT Belgium where we also build continuous and batch sterilizers,” explains PTC Manager, Jo Suys. “Customers often bring their products to us for testing or we do it on-site with their own machines, as well as carrying out validation of sterilization processes.

“Obviously with the pandemic, we cannot travel outside Belgium unless it is essential and even then it is still very limited to countries around us like Germany and the Netherlands. However, it isn’t always practical or easy to keep two metres apart when you are next to a noisy machine and need to speak with a customer. Also, testing in-house at our technical centre with a customer has become problematic because we cannot travel out and they cannot travel to us, making the process very difficult.”

The solution has come in the form of attaching a camera to the exterior of the pilot system and filming the process, so the customer can watch what is being done and view the result online. 


Remote viewing
Most recently, filming was carried out for a Netherlands-based processor of corn on-the-cob who wanted to identify why damage was occurring to some areas of the corn during pasteurization and work out how this could be avoided. “During pasteurization, corn kernels become darker in color, but if you have damaged areas on the cob, these become very dark very quickly, so the customer wanted to see when this happens to find out if there was a way of preventing it,” says Suys.

“The retort at our new pilot installation has big viewing windows, so you can really see what is happening. As a personal visit from the customer was impossible, we used the camera to film every stage of the test and sent it to them. This approach was so successful, they have now asked for a second day of testing.”


Effective results
A second successful example of the new system was when a customer from Saudi Arabia requested help in identifying a problem with the sterilization of plastic bottles filled with ready-to-drink milk formula for newborn babies. As Suys explains, pressure differences during the process were causing some bottles to lose their shape between heating and cooling, leaving the packages unsuitable for sale.

“Using the camera, we tried to find out at what exact moment the plastic became hard again and whether this caused any deformations in the bottle, and this helped us to find an effective solution for the customer,” he says. “Of course, you can already do a lot with simple photos through before and after evaluations, but this is a great approach if the customer needs to find out what is happening during processing, but – for whatever reason – is unable to travel or receive an on-site visit.”

Request more details about remote testing from JBT Belgium

A&B celebrates role in award-winning JM Smucker Company site


JBT’s A&B Process Systems helped add a key ingredient into an award-winning JM Smucker Company peanut butter and jelly sandwich production facility, with the delivery and installation of a Clean-In-Place (CIP) skid and piping at the 62-acre site in Longmont, Colorado. Recently named the 2020 Food Engineering Plant of the Year, the JM Smucker Company facility is at the forefront of booming demand for the sandwiches across the US.

Working in conjunction with the JM Smucker Company and design-build firm Dennis Group, A&B built the CIP system and installed process piping during construction of the 390,000 sq ft plant, which includes production and packaging lines for the Uncrustables product, as well as support areas and office space. 


“We’re a good partner with the JM Smucker Company, so it’s gratifying to see the Longmont facility has been voted 2020 Food Engineering Plant of the Year,” says A&B Director of National Accounts, Brian Gehrke, who was closely involved with the project. “On behalf of JBT and A&B Process Systems, we would like to congratulate the JM Smucker Group for this achievement.”

According to a report in Food Engineering magazine, the plant was developed to meet soaring demand across the US for the crust-free Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches, now producing a total of 88 boxes – or 880 sandwiches – every minute. In fact, the product, which was first produced at JM Smucker’s Scottsville, Kentucky site in 2003, is now worth an estimated US$250 million in annual revenue; a figure which is only expected to grow over the coming years.

Find out more about A&B CIP skids

JBT introduces augmented remote assistance and preventative maintenance for PRoCARE customers


JBT has announced a major expansion to its PRoCARE® Service Agreements for customers to reflect the new challenges many food and beverage processors face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the incorporation of augmented remote support and preventative maintenance features.

Available for both new and existing customers, the PRoCARE packages feature innovations including PRoSIGHT™, JBT’s own augmented remote support service, which makes use of smart glasses to enable JBT technicians to inspect machinery and equipment at a distance. PRoSIGHT was fast-tracked into production in response to the pandemic and will now also be available to PRoCARE customers.

JBT iOPS®, a service offering real-time monitoring and analytics for enhanced machine reporting and preventative maintenance, also forms a key component in enhanced PRoCARE packages. Providing powerful, actionable insights that help prevent costly breakdowns, preventative maintenance from JBT iOPS can reduce the lifetime total cost of ownership, in the process increasing yield, throughput and uptime.

Ready-made replacements
Keeping downtime to a minimum also forms part of another key element in the new PRoCARE options in the form of Complete Spare Assemblies. “Recently, a number of leading companies in the infant formula industry signed up for PRoCARE as we were able to offer Complete Spare Assemblies as part of the package,” explains JBT Customer Care Sales Manager, Rex Pattyn.

“Complete Spare Assemblies can reduce downtime tremendously. The idea was triggered by powder industry customers who use seamers for cans of infant formula. This is a high value product, so downtime is very costly.”

In the event of a breakdown, JBT Complete Spare Assembles only take on average an hour and a half to put in place and get up-and-running, giving customers the piece of mind of having a ready-made replacement on hand to keep the lines running.


Remote troubleshooting
Of course, one of the most headline-grabbing options now included with PRoCARE is PRoSIGHT augmented remote assistance. “The remote connection allows our experts to feel like they are right there with the customer,” says Pattyn. “This solution is the next best thing to being on-site on the production floor.”

PRoSIGHT can be used for immediate troubleshooting and breakdown repairs, as well as for maintenance operations, inspections and assessments – included as part of PRoCARE – commissioning and on-the-job training of Field Service Engineers. It facilitates these services in quarantine areas, dangerous conflict-zone areas and countries where time consuming entry visa and vaccination requirements are needed prior to entry.


Added value
Such remote services have become increasingly important amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to JBT’s Customer Care Manager for Filling-Closing-Sterilization, Johan Van Riet, who says the development of PRoSIGHT was accelerated to overcome restrictions on most on-site activities, including inspections. 

“When the pandemic took hold around mid-March, we immediately started thinking about how we could best support our customers,” says Van Riet. “These options, which can now be included with PRoCARE Service Agreements, bring added value for customers by helping them maintain machinery and equipment in optimal condition and guarding against avoidable wear and tear to components.”

Learn more about PRoCARE Service Agreements

JBT’s ultra-hygienic SeamTec Seamer setting new standards in infant formula industry

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JBT’s Sint-Niklaas, Belgium facility is continuing to support infant formula manufacturers across Europe and Asia with the supply of SeamTec™ Seamers for powder applications; solutions that are helping set a new standard in hygiene in the industry. Supplying both conventional, high-speed SeamTec equipment and “Combi” options for ease of can diameter change, the system was recognized at the Dairy Technology Awards 2018 for its outstanding developments for the dairy industry.

In fact, since its initial launch in 2008, the SeamTec Seamer for Powder has set a new standard in hygienic design, can format change-over, food safety and cleanability, leading the market for medium-to-high speed clinchers and closers for the infant formula powder industry.

The SeamTec seamer’s success in the industry was again confirmed with the order of seven new machines, which are currently being manufactured and prepared in the Sint-Niklaas facility, where the SeamTec for Powder system was originally developed.

According to Bart Mertens (Product Line Director for Filling & Closing Equipment), three of the machines will be dedicated to the high-speed production of infant formula cans in superior hygienic conditions. The other four machines will be destined for infant formula packers in Europe and Asia. “These so-called ‘2 x 3 SeamTec Combi’s’ allow for can diameter and can height change-over in a spectacular, unmatched 30 minutes, without the need to adjust seam setting,” Mertens explains.


Baby powder being filled into cans by JBT’s PLF International

New approach
The SeamTec seamer was created as a response to the inadequacies of traditional can seamers for high value infant formula powders. Unchanged for decades, these seamers were essentially adaptations of standard designs for liquid applications, with minor modifications. Today, many of these machines no longer meet the needs of the modern infant formula powder industry.

Driven by ever-increasing regulatory requirements, infant formula canners demand the highest level of hygienic design, with no exposed lubricants, easy and quick cleaning, prevention of foreign particles and absolute product safety.

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JBT’s response was a radical new approach to seamer design, with the development of a seamer specifically for high value powders. JBT worked closely with leading infant formula producers to understand their specific requirements in terms of hygienic design, operation in an inert gas environment, cleanability, and operator and product safety – and all at a reasonable cost with no powder spillage and foreign particle prevention.

The unique SeamTec seamer features set a new standard in the industry and makes this the most advanced seamer for powder on the planet. Since the system’s introduction, industry leaders like Nestlé, Wyeth, MeadJohnson, Abbott, Danone, Sodiaal, Abbott and FrieslandCampina have all embraced JBT’s SeamTec seaming technology.

JBT now boasts a strong presence in the infant formula segment, particularly following the 2017 acquisition of PLF International, a specialist manufacturer of filling machines and complete turnkey line project management for the fast-growing global powder product market. Combined with JBT’s own seamers, PLF is well placed to meet increasing worldwide demand for powdered products, especially powdered infant formula and nutraceuticals.

Learn more about the JBT SeamTec Seamer

Proseal support helps keep food packaging lines running


The fast-response service on which JBT’s tray sealing specialist Proseal has built its reputation is proving invaluable in enabling food customers globally to maintain production and output at a time of greatly increased demand, with the pandemic having placed immense pressure on food supply chains at a time when social distancing measures and absences from work are creating additional challenges on production lines.

Proseal continues to go above and beyond, doing its best to ensure that its existing industry-leading turnaround times are being maintained and to provide immediate help to customers to ensure machinery can run at peak optimum performance. The company’s in-house manufacturing teams are working flat out to meet the increased demand, liaising closely with the planning team to prioritise tasks dynamically throughout each day.

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This heightened manufacturing capacity has been made possible by the dedication of Proseal employees and the measures that have been put in place to ensure their health and safety in line with official protocols such as social distancing.

Spare part production and dispatch has been speeded up wherever possible and this has been aided by Proseal’s strategic stockholding of standard parts. Machine tooling production, which is normally completed within a two-week lead time, has also been accelerated; in several recent instances tooling has been designed, manufactured, tested and dispatched within a matter of days to meet customers’ emergency requirements.

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Equally important, Proseal continues to provide 24/7 phone support to diagnose and troubleshoot issues, providing a vital helpline to customer’s engineering teams. Allied to this, the company’s online and virtual Provision system helps to monitor downtime, OEE, and error management in order to proactively identify issues before they become problems.

For ongoing production matters, Proseal’s comprehensive Test Kitchen facilities also remain operational, enabling food companies to carry out shelf-life trials and seal integrity testing. As well as continuing to support new product development processes, the service can also assist companies having to adjust existing recipes, adopt new tray formats or materials to compensate for any shortages in their supply chains.


The Test Kitchen has more than 15,000 trial plates in stock along with vast stores of trays and films in different materials. Testing facilities include a vacuum tank, gas cylinders for MAP and gas analysers. In addition, Proseal’s ProTest™ unit is able to measure how much force is required to peel a film lid from a tray, enabling the user to determine if the seal strength is suitable for the product’s lifecycle. 

To maintain safe working practices, tests are being carried out by the Test Kitchen team in isolation, with samples and reports sent back and forth between the customer and Proseal, rather than the customer coming to the Proseal site. “We have always recognised how essential it is for food companies to be able to maintain production and that is why we have continued to invest heavily in our range of support services,” explains Proseal’s Tony Burgess. “We are delighted that this investment means we have been able to provide the fastest response for customers during these very testing times.”

Request more information about Proseal solutions

JBT’s PRoCARE Service Agreements help maximize uptime for California produce companies

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Booth Ranches, Eco Farms, Ventura Pacific, and Fillmore Piru are just a few of JBT’s California, US produce customers that have benefited in recent years from PRoCARE® programs. A service which focuses on minimizing downtime and maximizing uptime, the PRoCARE proposition is an innovative customer care agreement which focuses on preventative maintenance, enabling customers to avoid breakdowns and budget the replacement of machinery parts.

For these kinds of produce customers, regularly scheduled PRoCARE service visits and in-house aftermarket parts management have kept equipment such as JBT Bin Scrubbers and Citrus Coatings Dryers running at 95% uptime by eliminating unscheduled downtime and unwanted breakdowns, explains William Wofford, JBT’s Sales & Service Manager, Fresh Produce Technologies & Fruit and Vegetable Processing.


“PRoCARE service inspection reports keep the customer aware of the equipment conditions and upcoming wear parts cost for customer budgeting, while regular on-site training programs are conducted with the customer’s preventative maintenance teams, operational supervisors and lead personnel to ensure operational safety, sanitation and cost reduction,” he says.

The other major benefit from PRoCARE service agreements, according to Wofford, is helping ensure JBT equipment is kept running at optimal efficiency. “Just because the equipment is running does not mean it is running to its optimum performance condition,” he says. “To make this happen we need to understand the condition of the equipment at all times and customers’ requirements and equipment performance goals. And that’s where the PRoCARE service program comes in. We monitor the machines and we make sure items are replaced as needed. We make sure these machines run as they were manufactured to run.”

Learn more about JBT PRoCARE Service Agreements