JBT Avure has introduced an innovative new basket unloading system – the Avure Tilt Basket Unload Station – for customers using its High-Pressure Processing (HPP) technologies that has been designed to boost processing speeds while at the same time reducing labor costs and improving workplace safety.
With an estimated average labor savings of 59 hours per week, the Tilt Basket Unload Station tilts up to 45 degrees for easy unload following HPP processing, which assists the efficient and easy removal of product from the HPP basket.
Main benefits According to JBT Avure’s Tim Boyle, the system has two main benefits: it will reduce labor costs by speeding up the unloading of baskets, while its use of ergonomic unloading means there is less chance of workplace injuries.
As Boyle explains, after the basket leaves the vessel, it moves to the end point before being tilted so that the product empties onto a conveyor for downstream processing. This has the result, he says, of both making unloading faster and improving overall productivity, while the system’s design will save valuable floorspace.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact across all sections of industry, changing working methods and practices, including in food and beverage processing. Although vaccines are slowly being distributed, the ‘new normal’ remains in place, meaning that new maintenance and analysis solutions are also necessary.
One such highly-effective solution isJBT’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform iOPS, which has recently introduced the iOPS Dashboard for the JBT Lubricator for the Hydrostatic Sterilizer, working in conjunction with customers. A remote analysis, monitoring and support tool, the iOPS Dashboard helps to improve support, aid maintenance, reduce downtime, isolate alarms, prevent delays and keep factories running efficiently.
Consolidated view The iOPS Dashboard provides customers – at a safe, remote distance – with a consolidated view of points of concern, including all alarm points, production rates, run-time efficiencies, upcoming and past schedules, and the current status. This provides vital information such as both actual running production speed, and real-time utilization rates of the Hydrostatic Sterilizer, explains JBT Software & Project Engineer, Rick Ripley.
“Customers can optimize their maintenance load by studying information provided by the iOPS Dashboard, including how many revolutions have taken place since the last lubrication,” says Ripley. “This almost gives them intuition and acts like an early warning system for failures.”
First year free The iOPS Dashboard, which is available free for the first year and then on an annual subscription basis, provides the data needed to carry out a qualitative analysis of the last cycle, alongside alarms that tell managers if any area is in risk of failure, and a series of widgets that give an overall picture of how the machinery is running.
“The report gives managers all the information they would want to know,” says Ripley. “This includes information such as when was the last time the system ran, how many pins have been lubricated, along with the history. It tells a manager how their maintenance is going on a machine.”
He adds: “People can monitor their machines without having to be at the factory. For now and into the near future, remote working will continue to be the new normal and plants are feeling it too.”
JBT’s innovative Intelligent Operations or iOPS® Platform collects data from across a facility in real-time. Having up-to-the-second data means companies can detect potential issues before they become problems and even improve the overall efficiency of operations. Netherlands-based High-Pressure Processing (HPP) toller Pascal Processing is one such company that has recorded real, definable dividends from the analysis through iOPS.
Based in the small city of Helmond in the east of the country, Pascal Processing provides HPP services to companies across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, covering a huge range of products from cold-pressed juices to meat products, guacamole, vegetable spreads, baby food, raw dog food, to smoked fish.
“We handle everything that can be HPP treated,” explains Pascal site manager, Willem van de Ven (pictured above), who says demand for the company’s HPP services has experienced strong growth as awareness of the technology’s benefits has steadily increased. “We are now seeing a far broader range of products: a few years ago it was cold-pressed juices and meats, but now we are handling all sorts of products.”
Complete overview A key component in the company’s recent development has been the implementation of an iOPS system – designed in close cooperation with JBT engineers – covering Pascal’s entire facility. Instead of having to rely on workers reporting problems after they had already occurred, the JBT iOPS system focuses on providing customers with tools to detect delays in the process and machinery failures. As van de Ven explains, a virtual dashboard provides an overview of the equipment and individual operator effectiveness, as well as displaying accurate information if and when components begin to fail.
“The dashboard enables you to have the right information quickly whereas before we had to go back and revise the old data we had on the machine,” he says. “It gives us a good picture of how efficiently we are working with a machine and how efficient individual operators are.
“We found for example that we were losing time by manually filling machines and by changing that we have been able to save 45 minutes per week between four-five people increasing productivity with almost four hours per week.”
Data-based decisions By having access to accurate production data, van de Ven says Pascal is now able to make more decisions based on facts. “Before when a machine wasn’t working, the operator would come to us and say they had been having problems for a few days,” he recalls. “Sometimes there are problems that aren’t seen by the operators. Before it was done on feeling but now, we make decisions based on data.”
Van de Ven says the fact of having more data on how machines are performing has helped eliminate apparently minor problems, resulting in time and money savings. “Maybe saving 15 seconds per cycle doesn’t sound significant, but between cycles this can add up to almost an hour of time saved per day,” he adds.
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.
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.
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.”
Keeping production and packaging lines moving in these challenging times has become a key consideration for companies across the food processing industry, with worker illnesses and absences placing pressure on supply chains. Add to this the need to minimize downtime and the continuing growth of internet shopping and companies have a lot to think about.
JBT Proseal, which has a strong record in packaging innovation, is rising to meet these challenges with new developments in automation and data analysis, which have been designed to improve both productivity and food safety.
Limiting downtime Focused on making life easier for processing companies, ProVision is a downtime analyser which gives managers a dashboard providing an overall view of all production lines and pinpoints any problems that might occur. “If you are the CEO of a business and you have 10 production lines and one of those has failed for a day, you will want to know about it,” says Proseal’s Head of Sales & Control Systems, Tony Burgess. “If, in all your 10 production lines, for one minute of every hour the line stops because of a failing piece of equipment, in a month’s time that will could have added up to one day’s lost production.
“ProVision will capture all of these micro instances and build a series of data. It will tell you exactly the downtime and cause of downtime over the last 24 hours. It allows the user to focus attention on the piece of equipment on the production line that is causing the downtime and do something about it, so it has an enormous productivity benefit.”
Dynamic growth A further area where Proseal sees an opportunity is in the booming online market for food ingredients and ready meals driven by increasing consumer interest in cooking at home. Proseal, Burgess reveals, is supplying eco-friendly Halo tray forming equipment to Dineamic, an Australian company which delivers chef-cooked meals to consumers across the country. “Dineamic produces their own foods, seals them with Halo pack trays made in house with a Proseal tray sealer and then sends them mail-order,” says Burgess. “Similar work is being done in other geographic locations.”
However, such developments are not just taking place in the food industry. Proseal, Burgess adds, is currently working on a project in the Netherlands for online flower orders by designing packaging options suitable for sending flowers by mail-order.
Among the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps one most keenly felt by the global food industry has been pressure on traditional labor sources. Worker absences due to illness or localized outbreaks can play havoc with the supply chain, increasing pressure on processors. One growing area offering a practical, cost-effective solution is JBT’s innovative AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) range; a solution that is enabling companies to savelabor for higher value tasks and increase social distancing.
More than simple robotic systems, JBT AGVs feature an advanced navigation system which creates a virtual map of the surroundings in which it operates, allowing it to safety move around the working area. Further, JBT AGVs now come with 2D and 3D cameras for safe positioning and vertical stacking of pallets above the level of the AGV.
Different applications According to Mark Longacre, Application Engineering Manager for JBT’s AGV division, such innovations are helping spark an expansion in the use of AGVs from manufacturing areas – where the vehicles would be used to move raw materials or finished goods – to warehousing and distribution. “In the past, AGVs were more of a horizontal transport solution and now they are getting much more vertical where we are storing in warehouses, in some cases quite high,” he says. “It’s not to say that those manufacturing applications have gone away. They really haven’t, but now we are also seeing this growth in the warehousing side.”
As demand for different applications has grown, so has the advancement on what Longacre describes as natural environment navigation, where the AGVs create a baseline map by sensing the features and contours of the surrounding environment. “As the AGVs operate, they compare what they see with their sensors to that baseline map, and accurately navigate in that environment,” explains Longacre. “By recognizing the natural environment and not adding special navigation aids or markers , it makes installation quicker and less costly.”
Strong ROI Longacre believes much of the recent increase in interest in JBT AGVs can be put down to pressure on the labor market as well as greater awareness of the strong ROI offered by the solution. “Companies in the past were looking at it purely as a financial equation where they looked at how many forklift operators they had and how much labor they were going to save, but now I think they are starting to understand some of the risks associated with the labor force,” he says.
“I don’t think they are going to abandon the financial models, but I think they are going to weigh things a little differently. You want to save labor for the highest value added task and driving forklifts is not something where you have to use labor.”
JBT’s READYGo LiquiFusion Tanks present an innovative solution for combining multiple operations into a single tank processing system, saving money and delivering a smaller footprint in the process. Dan Wolff, Technical Sales Manager for Sales, Engineering and Estimating at JBT’s A&B Process Systems, explains how the concept works.
When a process professional starts to consider purchasing new equipment, a whole array of questions and issues come to mind. What if I need to perform multiple operations? How will I protect my product from contamination? How can I fit this equipment into the space I have?
To address these common concerns, experts across many industries are moving towards single tank processing where a single piece of equipment is used for blending, dispersion, emulsification, heating, and cooling operations. This is the concept behind JBT’s READYGo LiquiFusion Tanks; a solution which delivers a lower capital cost, reduced material handling and product transfer, and a smaller system footprint.
READYGo LiquiFusion Tanks are available in six standard volumes and can be customized to handle a broad range of products and processes, including four separate agitator options that can be combined to create ideal mixing for almost any application and can handle viscosities up to 100,000+ cPs.
The optional ASME dimple jacket provides efficient heating and cooling compatible with a variety of heat transfer media. This system has been used for products such as gums, flours, cocoa, yeast, powdered egg, caseinates, condiments, juices, purees, whey, slurries, cheese, lotion, gel, shampoo, toothpaste, and more.
In addition to all its other benefits, the LiquiFusion system offers superior low-level mixing, reduced batch time, elimination of agglomerated powders, a more homogenous blend, and increased batch uniformity. Furthermore, if the customer is interested in automating their system, a full range of optional instrumentation can be included to reduce manual processing and further protect their product from damage due to human error.
While the user should be excited that combining these processes results in less equipment to clean, they can also rest assured that the LiquiFusion is designed to be fully CIP (Clean-In-Place) ready. Our sanitary design is extremely versatile and is ready for installation in any food, dairy, confectionary, cosmetic, personal care, or pharmaceutical plant.
Dan Wolff has worked at A&B Process Systems for seven years as a Mechanical Engineer in the Tank and Vessel Group, specializing in pressure vessel engineering, agitator design, structural analysis, and standard product development. Recently, Dan moved into the role of Technical Sales Manager supporting A&B’s Sales, Engineering, and Estimating teams.
JBT has introduced new, unique features for the JBT Unifiller, the volumetric piston filler for high value products, with key attributes such as a unique seal-less and self-draining fill station concept, which substantially differentiates the Unifiller from conventional piston filling technology.
A new Configure to Order (CTO) option and in-line check weighting are now being included with the Unifiller as a means of significantly enhancing existing processes, enhancing safety and minimising giveaway.
The two innovations will help further boost the three key benefits of the Unifiller: Clean In Place (CIP) without fill station disassembly; unmatched fill accuracy; and high product particle quality. These also make the Unifiller an even better solution for filling high-value segments, including sauces, jams and sweet spreads, ready meals, cream and condensed milk in metal or glass containers.
Configure to Order JBT has recently completed a Configure to Order (CTO) exercise on the Unifiller with the objective of reducing the cost and delivery time, says Bart Mertens, JBT’s Product Line Director for Filling and Closing Equipment.
The CTO exercise also includes an upgrade of the basic machine with features that were previously optional, including: sealed upper guarding with standard safety glass for enhanced operator safety and chemical resistance; a stainless steel central column for longer life, lower risk of blockage and improved hygienic; easy-to-clean, hygienic electropolished fill stations; and a single point container height adjustment for more convenient can format change-over.
How the JBT Unifiller valve filling principle works
Minimize giveaway To further reduce the Total Cost of Ownership, JBT is also now offering optional in-line check weighing technology, for speeds of up to 700 cpm (containers per minute). “The use of this technology in combination with the Unifiller allows for the monitoring of the fill accuracy performance of each individual fill station and features automatic on-the-fly fill volume adjustment to minimize giveaway,” explains Mertens.
Additionally, the Unifiller, ensures E-mark compliance by rejecting under- and over-filled containers that fail to comply with the standard in order to protect downstream sterilization equipment.
JBT has introduced a new breakthrough for Continuous Rotary Sterilizers called Gentle Can Handling (GCH) which reduces damage to food containers as they run through the sterilization process. GCH has the potential to enable customers to achieve higher speeds and more throughput or run lighter weight cans which may provide significant cost savings.
For over 100 years, food processors have utilized the Rotary Pressure Sterilizer (RPS) to agitate and sterilize food products in hermetically sealed metal cans. However, over time, in the relentless effort to reduce cost and increase efficiency, processors have requested higher speeds from JBT and lighter weight cans from their suppliers.
The early days of 25 cans per minute has evolved into speeds in excess of 1000 cans per minute for the modern RPS, but a combination of the higher speeds, lighter weight cans and new can geometries has, at times, resulted in unacceptable damage to cans. However, that has all changed thanks to a global team, consisting of JBT engineers from South Africa, Belgium and the US, who collaborated to design a new technology called Gentle Can Handling. This technology can be applied to both new RPS equipment and retrofitted to existing RPS equipment.
Andrew Prins, JBT Technical Product Manager for Retort & Rotary, said: “After a can is filled and seamed, that sealed container goes into a rotary cooker in a continuous manner, entering the pressure cooker through a valve that works like a revolving hotel door on its side, and exiting in the same manner as a sterile product. But when you make contact with the can with the ejector that pushes it out of the reel and into the valve, you may cause damage to the container. We have come up with a new shape for the ejector and modified the other transfer components so that the can is removed from the reel and enters the valve in a more stable and controlled manner which reduces the impact forces the can experiences and thus can damage is greatly reduced.”
GCH, continued Prins, allows for much greater control the whole way through the process, so there is a gentler movement of the containers from one shell to the next. And because it is much smoother, it can also potentially run faster. With a maximum speed of about 600 cans a minute per lane, JBT customers are able to process up to 1200 cans a minute over two lanes.
“Gentle Can Handling provides processors with an improved technology to reduce can damage and potentially use lighter weight cans that may provide significant cost savings.” Prins added.
2020 is likely to be the year in which JBT’s Internet of Things (IoT) offering, the Intelligent Operations or iOPS Platform, takes centerstage across the food and beverage industry, thanks to the roll-out of the virtual technology across multiple JBT solutions and the consequences of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Working by collecting and learning from data in real time from systems and machinery, the iOPS system can detect potential issues before they become problems and even improve the overall efficiency of operations.
JBT’s iOPS Gateway makes use of real-time data so customers can have a better view of when machines require preventative maintenance based on numbers instead of time, explains Auke Bouwense, JBT’s Global Internet of Things (IoT) Commercial Manager for Liquid Foods.
The technology, he continues, also enables customers to gain a far clearer idea of the true state of their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). “Customers might have the idea they are running very well, but if you compare the amount of production the machine is running with other machines, you often find it is capable of doing a lot more,” he says. “The iOPS system can make operations more efficient and, therefore, our machines more effective, and ultimately make our customers more profitable. It will also enable JBT itself to better make further improvements to our solutions.”
JBT’s iOPS Gateway can help improve the efficiency of systems across a facility
Greater efficiencies One area of JBT where the iOPS platform is already very much present is with JBT’s fresh-cut processing solutions provider, FTNON. The Netherlands-based unit has the technology installed in a number of its systems and Bouwense says customers often find they could be achieving greater efficiencies. “What FTNON has very much found is that although their own customers often think their machines are running well, when they engage an iOPS system and look at the effectiveness of the total line they sometimes find they are running not even at a third of the total,” he says.
The iOPS system, Bouwense explains, looks at what is going on inside the machines and what products are going through them, identifying whether there is unnecessary wastage during the process, or whether leaks or misconfigurations are leading to higher utility bills. “JBT’s iOPS technology can help reduce losses and also provide better insight into where customers are losing time,” he says.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and greater numbers of companies moving to remote working as a result, Bouwense adds that an iOPS integration can provide an overall, accurate picture of food and beverage processing operations without always having to be there in person.