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JBT & AutoCoding Systems: the story behind the acquisition

JBT’s recent acquisition of AutoCoding Systems has brought on board a company with a unique skillset into the JBT family. Ensuring the correct labelling and coding is applied to packaging is a hugely important final step on many production lines but achieving this can often lead to downtime for manual inspections and line configuration. Instead, AutoCoding’s process acts as a “virtual assistant” to the line operator and can all but eliminate the danger of misprinting, miscoding and missed QA checks.

Providing software and hardware solutions for the automated set-up and control of complete packaging lines, AutoCoding’s solution integrates and automates multiple systems, covering all devices within a packaging processing line. As well as virtually removing the risk of error, the solution feeds back valuable production data to the operators and factory management.

Proactive approach 
But how did the acquisition take place? Eddie Holmes, Head of Business Development at JBT Proseal, who was closely involved with the process, says that the initial impetus behind the acquisition came from JBT’s desire to bring on board label and line verification technologies to complement broad JBT and specific Proseal solutions.

As Holmes explains, Proseal had previously worked with AutoCoding Systems on several projects including an installation for a major poultry processor, and he recalls being impressed not just by the technologies, but also by the positive, proactive outlook of the company. “We have done a number of installations with AutoCoding and we loved working with them,” says Holmes. “They are a ‘run to the fire’ type of company, meaning that they run towards and proactively solve a problem.”

Continuous improvement
From an initial approach in late 2020, the acquisition was completed on March 1, 2021. “The AutoCoding solution manages the workflow and device interaction of the whole packaging line whilst integrating disparate data sources such as ERP and Planning. The automated set-up of the key equipment eliminates the risk of human error and saves time, whilst automated verification ensures all packaging is correct for a production order.” says Holmes.

In this sense, AutoCoding Systems’ technologies act as a “virtual assistant” to the operator, while also gathering performance data which can be used for real time management and continuous improvement. “In addition to the core AutoCoding product, value add modules such as Paperless Quality and LPR (Line Performance Reporting) deliver improved quality checks and real-time data to measure performance leading to improvements in productivity.” explains Holmes. “As a result, the chances of missing a quality check, or incorrectly coding a product are reduced dramatically, whilst companies also benefit from receiving valuable, meaningful data back from their production lines.”

From AutoCoding Systems’ point of view, being part of JBT will enable the company to scale-up globally, taking full advantage of the strength and international presence of a worldwide corporation. “AutoCoding Systems is already a global company with its Head Office in the UK and subsidiaries in Melbourne, Australia and Chicago, US. Being part of the JBT family provides extensive opportunities for AutoCoding to extend into previously unexplored markets for factory automation software,” Holmes adds.

Learn more about AutoCoding Systems’ solutions

Tray sealing test center strengthens JBT Proseal’s presence in Italy

JBT’s tray sealing specialist Proseal is increasing its support for the important Italian market with the appointment of Giovanni-Paolo as Regional Sales Manager for the country.

Giovanni will be based at Proseal’s parent company JBT’s Center for Excellence in Parma. The facility includes JBT’s Technology Center for fruit and vegetable processing, protein, aseptic and HPP systems, which enables customers to assess a wide range of aseptic processing and packaging technologies and provides full testing facilities to trial solutions for their products, both remotely and in person.

As part of the Proseal customer offer, one of the company’s tray sealing machines has now been added to the test equipment at the center. This will allow customers to experience first-hand the effectiveness of Proseal’s tray sealing technology for the fast, efficient and hygienic sealing of a wide range of products from fresh berries and other produce, meat, poultry and fish, to sandwiches, snack foods, ready meals and fresh pasta.

JBT’s Center for Excellence in Parma Italy

Using customer supplied raw material, Proseal experts will also be able to help carry out feasibility studies on new products and processes.

“Italy is an important market for us, and Giovanni’s appointment means we now have a dedicated specialist to provide comprehensive support to our Italian customers and those in neighbouring countries,” says Tony Burgess, Sales Director of Proseal. “Equally important, the introduction of tray sealing technology to the Center of Excellence offers a valuable addition to JBT’s extensive food processing and packaging solutions.”

Founded in 1998 and part of the JBT family since 2019, Proseal is a world leader in the design and manufacture of high-quality tray sealing machines, conveyor systems and sealing tools for the food industry, with manufacturing facilities in the UK, the US and Australia. JBT is a leading global technology solutions provider to high-value segments of the food processing industry, committed to delivering a service that surpasses customer expectations.

JBT acquires leading label inspection and verification tech provider AutoCoding Systems

JBT has announced the acquisition of UK-based AutoCoding Systems Ltd, a leading provider of software solutions for the automated set-up and control of end-of-line packaging devices. AutoCoding extends JBT’s capabilities in packaging line equipment and associated devices, including coding and label inspection and verification.

Headquartered near Runcorn, UK, with additional operations in the US and Australia, AutoCoding’s central command software solution integrates and automates the use of in-line packaging devices, such as coders, scanners, labelers, and checkweighers, reducing manual inspection and downtime for line configuration. While AutoCoding is scalable across JBT FoodTech’s diverse end markets, it provides a particularly strategic fit with JBT’s Proseal business where its tray sealing equipment begins the end-of-line process.

“AutoCoding’s offering embodies JBT’s broader mission to make better use of the world’s precious resources by providing a solution that substantially enhances our customers’ success. AutoCoding helps its customers reduce food waste, ensure complete and accurate food packaging information, and facilitate traceability and food safety,” commented Brian Deck, JBT’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Click HERE to read the full article

Proseal solutions help deliver soft fruit sustainability

JBT Proseal’s advanced tray sealing machines are helping berry growers in the UK meet ever-increasing demand for soft fruit – which has been strong during the pandemic – by providing high quality, flexible sealing solutions that also deliver on sustainability.

As soft fruit volumes continue to climb, and with the market for UK-grown fruit now estimated at over US$944 million (£670 million) a year, packaging manufacturers are seeking flexible solutions to meet demanding high-speed requirements. Equally important is the need to minimize packaging materials without impacting their effectiveness to provide product protection.

Proseal offers manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic tray sealers, designed to be both flexible and maximize speeds and efficiencies. In addition, Proseal’s two-minute rapid-tool-change means a wide range of tray formats, materials and sizes can be sealed on one machine, allowing customers to quickly switch from one tray type to another.

“Our tray sealing machines offer fruit growers greater flexibility to seal different designs and sizes of trays with efficiency and accuracy,” explains Proseal sales director Tony Burgess. “This, combined with our innovative technologies and production lead times, make us a world leader in tray sealing soft fruits.

ProMotion™ our continuous infeed technology, for example, has the potential to increase the speed of a tray sealer by up to 30%, while creating calm machine operations which ensure a smoother, more stable journey to the sealing station. This is particularly beneficial to delicate produce, such as soft fruit.”

Proseal also manufactures a diverse and customisable line of intelligent conveyor systems, designed to create ultimate line control and optimisation and therefore perfect for the fast-moving soft fruit industry.

The company has pioneered several important sustainability initiatives throughout its 23 years. Proseal was the driving force behind the replacement of traditional clam-shell punnets with top film sealed varieties, which has now become commonplace in soft fruit markets across Europe and now North America, helping to minimize plastic usage by 45% in most cases. More recently, the company has been at the forefront of introducing new recyclable, compostable trays and film for fruit that can further reduce plastic usage by as much as 96%.

“Proseal continues to strive to develop the most effective and sustainable sealing solutions for its customers,” concludes Tony Burgess. “We are proud of the many innovations we have developed for the effective and efficient tray sealing of soft fruit. And we will continue to develop the appropriate technologies to help support sustainable solutions that deliver quality.”

Learn more about JBT Proseal solutions

JBT HPP Webinar: learn about the benefits of HPP Tolling

Whether you are a smaller company interested in learning more about the advantages of High Pressure Processing (HPP) or a larger business looking to invest in the technology, JBT Avure will be hosting a webinar examining HPP and the business of HPP Tolling. For smaller companies keen to benefit from HPP, tolling offers more cost-effective access to the technology.

Taking place on Wednesday January 20 at 9 AM EST, 3 PM CET, the JBT Avure HPP Webinar will provide a chance to hear from both sides of the tolling process from speakers Joakim Lungren, CEO of HPP Nordic, and Tanya Lambert, founder of the UK-based Tanya’s Just Real juice company.

As the owner of a leading European tolling facility, Joakim Lundgren will be talking about the business aspect of running such a center, while Tanya Lambert, who uses HPP Nordic for pasteurizing the Just Real range, will be talking from an end-user perspective of taking a product to a tolling facility.

Affordable alternative
“The focus of the webinar will be on the tolling aspect of our business,” explains JBT Avure’s Lisa Wessels. “Tolling is ideal for smaller companies that can’t afford to buy machinery or put in production lines or don’t have factories. They can take their product to a toller and pay to have their product High Pressure Processed.”

She adds: “We would love for more companies and more entrepreneurs to open tolling facilities anywhere in the world, and we’d like smaller companies who maybe think they can’t afford HPP to know you don’t have to be a big company to use this technology.”

The JBT Avure HPP Webinar will take place on Wednesday January 20 at 9 AM EST, 3 PM CET

Register HERE for the webinar

JBT’s AsepFlex™ Aseptic Pouch Filling helping customers achieve sustainability

As pressure on food processors to switch to sustainable packaging has grown, so a trend has emerged in the pouch industry to find viable alternatives to the layers of non-recyclable plastic used to safely store baby foods, purees, soups and other products. JBT has been supporting these efforts through innovative aseptic filling systems, which allow the safe filling of recyclable pouches without damaging their integrity by subjecting them to high temperatures.

“The pouch market is changing rapidly driven by the sustainability movement,” explains Patrick de Groot, JBT President for Liquid Foods in the EMENA region. “For aseptic this is a huge opportunity as these recyclable polypropylene (PP and PE) materials are sensitive to heat, therefore the hot fill and retort process requires thick and expensive multilayers. With aseptic technology, the process is mild with only a short sterilization cycle, followed by ambient processing and filling.”

Viable alternatives
“We’ve had multiple types of packaging in the world for many years: rigid, flexible and carton,” continues de Groot. “Sustainability is gaining a lot of attention with all the big players these days, but it is not always a straightforward process to recycle these materials.”

Although pouches have been around for a number of years, their typical composition – multiple layers with aluminum, PET on the outside and a further PE layer on the inside to protect the product – meant recycling was not a realistic option. 

With awareness of sustainability continuing to grow and companies across the food industry investing in more sustainable packaging, so the pouch sector has also tried to find viable alternatives. However, de Groot explains that the problem up until now is that fully recyclable PP or PE material is unable to withstand the high temperatures used for hot filling, which has traditionally been the norm in the industry.

Aseptic filling
Here is where JBT enters the story. JBT’s innovative AsepFlex Linear Pouch Filler system is now providing customers with the means of switching to fully PP or PE pouches without suffering the detrimental effects of hot filling on the material. 

“A PP or PE pouch is not as rigid as one with aluminium or Oriented Polypropylene (OPP), and therefore is not able to withstand high temperatures used to fill most pouches on the market,” says de Groot. “With aseptic technology, you don’t need to do a hot fill or go through a retort, you can sterilize the pouch without having to expose it to high temperatures, therefore aseptic technology is attracting lots of interest as it also brings the ability to process high quality natural low acid products. 

“Aseptic technology is an add-on not only from a product quality perspective, but the technology also allows you to treat fully-recyclable PP or PE pouches with thin layers.”

Learn more about the JBT AsepFlex Linear Pouch Filler

Proseal plays key role in US berry packaging revolution

JBT_Proseal_NaturipeFarms_berries

JBT’s tray sealing machinery specialist Proseal America was one of the key companies involved in an innovative project in North America to move berry packaging from clamshells to film-sealed thermoforms; a move which forms part of an industry-wide North American berry producer strategy to use 100% recycle-ready packaging by 2025.

Since 2014, Proseal, along with other industry partners, has been assisting Salinas, CA-based Naturipe Farms to replace plastic clamshell packaging with heat-film-sealed thermoforms, in the process reducing per-pack plastic by 33%, reports Plastics Today.

According to the report, Naturipe Farms is now using the heat-seal technology for both fresh and value-added products, including snacking lines Bliss Bentos and Boost Bentos. However, Naturipe Farms’ VP of Marketing, CarrieAnn Arias, told the publication that the biggest benefit was for sustainability, with the change helping the company remove 24 metric tons of plastic from the waste stream in 2019, thanks to its Heat Seal Program.

JBT_Proseal_strawberries

Berry packing using a JBT Proseal tray sealer

According to Tony Burgess, Proseal’s Head of Sales & Control Systems, “moving to a top sealed product allows growth into shelf life extension methods with the use of modified atmosphere top seal film, thereby future proofing the change.”

Valuable support
Janis McIntosh, director of marketing innovation and sustainability at Naturipe Farms, said the program was part of an overall strategy by the company and its associated growers to reduce its environmental footprint in all areas of the business particularly in packaging reduction and recyclability.

The project originated through Costco Canada in 2013 who wanted to replicate the success of White Heat Sealing in the UK and the expansion of theroform packaging across Europe, but had to accommodate both larger North American pack sizes and the need to find the right heat sealing equipment supplier.

Strawberries 2 Photo - JBT Proseal

Proseal’s top-sealed packs using modified atmosphere film are already commonplace in the UK

“Without the support from tray-sealing machinery supplier Proseal America, Accolade, MasterPack Spa, Infia, and Penninsula Pack (acquired by Sonoco in 2017), we would never have gotten off the ground in 2014,” said McIntosh. 

“Also, we cannot thank the Costco staff enough for their support and patience through the development. Today there are many more packaging choices for companies wanting to get into heat sealing, better film structures, and improved access to thermoforms are helping move the technology forward. It’s tough being the first to develop a product, but heat seal has been a great direction for us and the industry in terms of sustainability.”

Learn more about Proseal solutions