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JBT’s Unifiller innovations reduce Total Cost of Ownership

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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.

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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.

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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.

Learn more about the new JBT Unifiller

JBT’s Gentle Can Handling: minimizing metal can damage during sterilization

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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.

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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.

Learn more about Gentle Can Handling

JBT iOPS® Gateway: a technological solution for a changing world

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.

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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.”

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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.

Find out more about JBT’s iOPS solution

JBT Europe offers Augmented Remote Assistance for customers & technicians in Covid-19 quarantine areas

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With the outbreak of Covid-19 (Corona), companies are now faced with quarantine challenges and as a result the need to reduce direct contact between employees and service providers due to imposed travel restrictions. Therefore, many companies are now looking for a solution to keep their production operational without traveling for on-site support. 

The Customer Care team of JBT’s Sint-Niklaas Belgium location has developed remote assistance enabled by smart glasses as a creative solution to combine high quality maintenance with the current quarantine restrictions.

Moreover, remote assistance smart glasses will facilitate service and maintenance operations:

  • In remote, dangerous conflict-zone areas.
  • In countries where time consuming entry visa and vaccination requirements are needed prior to entry.
  • To reduce the CO2 impact and environmental cost of travel, contributing to JBT’s and its customers’ sustainability goals. 


JBT will also use the technology to train regional Field Service Engineers on the job.

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The solution will be used for the first time this week with a customer in northern Italy, where a local maintenance team will get hands-free remote assistance from experts based in Belgium during the start-up of a two-shell Rotary Pressure Sterilizer (pictured below).

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JBT Sint-Niklaas has partnered with two Belgian companies for this solution to supply the smart glasses and accompanying software platform suite. 

The lightweight smart safety glasses are ruggedized, certified safety glasses equipped with two cameras and a powerful optical zoom lens, barcode scanner, voice commands, laser pointer, microphone and speaker, unrestricted field of view and ‘full-shift’ battery capacity, all combined in a unique and comfortable design. They are tethered to a smartphone for maximum processing power. 

The Remote Support Platform also allows on-site technicians to get directly in touch with the right back-office supporting expert. The calls, activities and log can be integrated with Salesforce and JBT’s Field Service Management Program.

Request more information about the smart glasses solution

Blow Molding Controls Upgrade brings old technology into modern era

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JBT Food & Dairy Systems has been producing high quality blow holding machines for over 100 years under the SF&DS brand. Their reliability is such that machines produced in 1971 are still in service today, but the very fact of their age – with many installed over 50 years ago – means they typically contain obsolete hardware and software. However, JBT has introduced a new solution which will enable customers to continue to benefit from the machines’ quality and reliability, while bringing them into the modern age.

The Blow Molding Controls Upgrade replaces essential parts of the machinery as an interesting alternative to replacement, which resolves many of the problems encountered when using old systems, including lengthy breakdowns due to a lack of spare parts.

To overcome such challenges, the Blow Molding Controls Upgrade introduces a new controls system using state-of-the-art software, trending and remote support. By replacing the HMI terminal, processing computer, mold control boxes and IO modules, an old machine is brought up to a modern standard. The new controls system significantly reduces the risk of breakdowns, but should one take place, JBT can swiftly supply spare parts to limit downtime.

JBT’s BottleTec™: the modern version of the Extrusion Blow-Molder.

Cost-effective solution
“Many of these machines are still out in the field and are being used by companies to produce sterile plastic bottles, but because the control system is obsolete, the possibilities to repair them and keep them running are becoming fewer,” explains Auke Bouwense, JBT’s Customer Care Manager for Blow Molding and Filling Systems.

“There is trade-off between investment in repair and investment in a new machine. Replacing the control system is a very invasive operation, so we have developed the Blow Molding Controls Upgrade to manage that risk.”

JBT carried out its first installation of the new controls system during the summer months of 2019 and it has proven to be both cost-effective and efficient. “The system is up and running and has become a very good example of a successful development project,” says Bouwense. The customer now has a year-over-year strategy to convert the rest of their blow molding machines.”

“The Blow Molding Controls Upgrade makes an old system relevant again and the investment is a lot lower than if they had bought a new machine,” he adds.

Learn more about the Blow Molding Controls Upgrade

JBT launches superior organic fruit coating

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JBT has introduced Sta-Fresh 2850 OR, a new, certified coating for organic fruits, offering superior shine, blush and moisture-loss control than most other organic coatings. Approved for use in both the US and the EU, the solution also provides significantly improved defect resistance compared with previous JBT organic coatings as well as much improved storage performance.

Developed by experts who have helped JBT lead the postharvest market for 90 years, Sta-Fresh 2850 OR has been specially formulated to help minimize moisture loss and maximize flavor preservation, while maintaining a fresh, natural appearance and enduring high shine from the packhouse to the export market destination. 

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John Siddle, JBT’s Global Product Line Director for Fresh Produce Technologies, says the coating delivers a significant advantage over JBT’s previous organic coating line, from both a practical and an aesthetic point of view. “Sta-Fresh 2850 OR is a lot shinier so it has a much better appearance, and it also has much better defect control, which means that it doesn’t blush as much as other organic coatings and it holds up better during storage.  The result is that the fruit should arrive at market in much better condition,” Siddle explains. 

“Having better shine, blush and defect resistance will provide our customers with much better value with regard to appearance, moisture-loss control and fruit taste.”

All ingredients used in Sta-Fresh 2850 OR are verified compliant with USDA National Organic Standards and the European Union’s approved list for fruit coatings.

Learn more about Sta-Fresh 2850 OR

JBT and SmartWash alliance to take fresh-cut food safety technology into Europe

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JBT and food safety technology specialist SmartWash Solutions™ have announced the start of a new European alliance between the two companies, which has been developed to bring an innovative combination of science, technology and engineering to fresh-cut produce processors within Europe.

Originally launched in the US in 2009, SmartWash Solutions’ patented SmartWash delivers Pinpoint Process Control™ to food processing wash water systems, mitigating cross contamination while improving food safety. The system has proven so effective in curbing cross contamination that it is now used by over 50% of the US fresh-cut produce industry, leading to expansion to Europe with the opening of SmartWash Solutions BV in the Netherlands.

Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV, said that with the announcement of the alliance, the company anticipates further expansion with the leveraging of JBT resources in Europe and beyond, which will enable it to significantly scale-up its activities. He said: “Through our alliance with JBT, we will be able to make many more people in the industry aware of the benefits of SmartWash by leveraging the resources of JBT worldwide.”

Carlos Fernandez, JBT’s Executive Vice President and President, Liquid Foods, said: “Food safety is a mega-trend that will transform the marketplace over the next generation. We’re thrilled to partner with SmartWash Solutions and offer this breakthrough to our customers.”

Alleviate challenges
Buter explained that the solution is designed to increase and maximize the effectiveness of the most powerful anti-microbial weapon in existence – chlorine – by combining chlorine-based washes with patented SmartWash chemistry. 

“The components of our patented SmartWash solution help to alleviate the challenges associated with fresh-cut produce, comprising a high level of pathogen control that allows us to mitigate the risk of cross contamination and in the process reduce the probability of outbreaks occurring,” he said. “The wash water used in fresh-cut processing can get extremely dirty, due to soils and other contaminants entering the system.”

SmartWash Solutions’ process control systems provide high process control while also withstanding the challenges of working in a wet and cold environment, common in fresh-cut processing. Additionally, SmartWash Solutions has helped customers realize cost savings in labor, productivity and utilities by improving the efficiency of wash systems and increasing the process control to levels previously impossible in the industry. 

So successful has the technology been that SmartWash systems now treat an estimated five billion pounds worth of fresh-cut produce in the US every year, as well as significant volumes in Canada, Australia, China and Spain. 

Learn more about SmartWash Solutions

JBT’s Complete Spare Assembly: the innovative solution to reduce seamer downtime

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Downtime can be frustrating and expensive for any food and beverage processor, but when it comes to the high-value infant powder segment, the experience can be doubly so. Keeping lines running and downtime to an absolute minimum is essential for powder processors, which is why JBT’s recently-introduced Complete Spare Assembly for JBT Seamers is proving invaluable for companies in the sector.

At its worst, downtime for a powder seamer can last 50 hours while equipment is maintained or repaired and finally brought back online, amounting to a very costly amount of lost production. As JBT’s Customer Care Manager for Filling, Closing and Sterilization, Johan Van Riet explains that the Complete Spare Assembly was borne of a desire to help customers that found themselves in this situation. 

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“The Complete Spare Assembly can reduce downtime tremendously,” he says. “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. We have customers running seamers with 6,000 or 7,000 hour production hours per year, and they were asking what could be done to reduce downtime.”

JBT engineers started to think about how they could tackle the problem, and began to look at full assemblies and rotation kits as an answer. The result is the JBT Complete Spare Assembly which only takes an hour and a half to put in place and get up-and-running on average.

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“We are talking about losing almost a complete production day per event, which is a lot of money” says Van Riet. “In terms of Return-on-Investment, that can be paid back in one to two years.”

As well as doing away with the necessity to store spare components, the Complete Spare Assembly also provides piece of mind as customers can have the confidence of having a ready-made replacement on hand should their seamer break down, continues Van Riet.

The response from the industry, he says, has been very positive, with eight customers now having a Complete Spare Assembly in place. The next step could now be the dairy industry, where Van Riet says customers have also shown a strong interest in the solution.

Learn more about the JBT Complete Spare Assembly

JBT & Aurratech: bringing fog sterilization & sanitization to the globe

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JBT’s alliances are all about bringing complementary solutions and technologies to its global customer base, which is why innovative sanitization specialist Aurratech looks certain to be a perfect fit over the coming years. Aurratech is the company behind Fog-in-Place™, a pioneering sterilization and sanitization system that guarantees 100% surface contact plus airborne disinfection with a fraction of the water and chemicals typically consumed by traditional technologies.

Fog-in-Place (FIP) can be used by food, beverage, produce, and protein processors to sterilize or sanitize equipment, piping, tanks and entire processing areas by turning biocide solution to fog in form of billions of micro-particles.

According to company founder Caio Agmont, FIP produces low weight particles that achieve 100% surface contact by remaining suspended in the air for long periods of time through which it can reach all areas of a facility that need to be sanitized, including around odd shapes.

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FIP also reduces more than 99% of the water, waste and sanitizing solution typically associated with traditional liquid based Sanitize-In-Place (SIP) procedures, making major savings in time, energy, solution and water, with negligible environmental impact. The system can be used effectively by both food (fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy) and beverage (wine, beer, juice, non-alcoholic and general beverages) processors, while it also has applications in the meat, fish and bakery sectors, among others.

International interest
Agmont says FIP has received a positive response from companies worldwide, including from leading wine producers in South Africa and fruit packers in Spain. “FIP is a great alternative to Clean-In-Place (CIP) programs and can save 99% of the water and chemicals used by CIP,” he says. “We have been working with a major wine company in Cape Town, South Africa where they have a huge problem with drought. Saving water is very important for them as they clean and disinfect several tanks and lines per day. FIP can save a huge amount of water and eliminate the need for waste treatment.”

With FIP now approved as meeting USDA Organic Standards 205.272 and 205.605 in the US, the technology is also seen as having great potential to replace chlorine dioxide gas sterilization processes for organic products.

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Aurratech is helping wine producers in South Africa save water

Airborne disinfection
There are also significant benefits, continues Agmont, in using FIP as an alternative to steam sterilization. “In Spain, we are using FIP with several companies for aseptic tanks,” he says. “Normally these companies use steam for the sterilization process. With FIP we can save steam (which is expensive), energy on air conditioning for cold rooms (FIP does not increase the room temperature), nitrogen (a huge amount is used to cool tanks during steam sterilization), water and we eliminate the risk of tank collapse.”

FIP is also being used by Aurratech customers for airborne disinfection, sterilizing ambient bottling plants which do not have aseptic fillers. “If the fillers are not aseptic, companies need to achieve a better air quality control to avoid any kind of contamination,” says Agmont. “Using FIP, we can deliver airborne disinfection by creating ‘aseptic’ ambient conditions.”

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New applications
Proving that the technology has huge scope for possible uses, Agmont says FIP has also been employed by nursery greenhouses for fertilizer and fungicide application with great results, while it has proven effective in combating botrytis in rose production facilities in South Africa.

Significantly, Aurratech is also planning research and investigation in Spain examining how FIP can be used to treat fruits during the postharvest stage to reduce decay. 

“The challenge here is to find the right chemical that doesn’t leave any residue on the fruit,” says Agmont. “Especially in Europe, there is a move towards residue free fruit, so companies must be much more aware about cold room and bin disinfection to eliminate any cross contamination or ambient contamination during storage. 

“We believe FIP can bring about new options to this field in terms of ambient disinfection.”

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Aurratech is researching post harvest applications for fruits

Tremendous progress
Sam Mudgal, JBT’s Alliance Coordinator for Liquid Foods, describes JBT’s role as increasing Aurratech’s reach and profile as its exclusive Global Sales Representative, assisting the company with sales, marketing and opening new doors. “We have a well-defined scope for Aurratech in terms of applications and territories, and it has already made tremendous progress in Spain and South Africa,” he says.

Mudgal says Aurratech alliance-sourced global sales have grown seven-fold since beginning its collaboration with JBT, and he predicts the current figure will double before the close of 2019. In fact, to manage its expansion, Aurratech now offices in Brazil, the US, Spain and South Africa, while a fifth is in the pipeline for Chile. 

However, yet more ambitious expansion is on the table for the next 12 months. Following completion of a Fog-In-Place demonstration unit and the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding, Aurratech is readying a move into the lucrative North American market. “Our goal over the next six months is to turn that non-binding agreement into a permanent one and start manufacturing in North America,” adds Mudgal. 

LEARN MORE about Aurratech’s Fog-In-Place

JBT and SafeTraces’ global alliance to revolutionize food safety & traceability

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JBT and SafeTraces, a leading food safety and traceability solutions provider, have announced a global alliance to integrate SafeTraces’ breakthrough, patented DNA-based technologies into JBT’s solutions portfolio for worldwide distribution. 

The strategic alliance will focus on incorporating SafeTraces’ groundbreaking food safety and traceability technology into JBT FoodTech businesses, including fresh produce technologies, fresh-cut technologies, and coating equipment solutions, enabling rapid verification of sanitation processes and item-level tracking and tracing of food materials.

Instead of waiting for days or weeks to verify food safety, sustainability or purity, the integrated solutions will provide the food industry with actionable results in minutes, fundamentally changing the way safe, sustainable food is produced and delivered.

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According to The United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), food-related recalls have risen at 10% in the United States from 2013 to 2018. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) also estimates that each recall results in over $10 billion in direct costs not including indirect costs related to long-term damage to the brand reputations of food industry actors. Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has repeatedly called on the food industry to embrace new technologies and innovations focused on improving its ability to secure the food supply chain and engage in more effective tracking and tracing of food from farm to fork.

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SafeTraces’ technologies will be applied to JBT fresh produce solutions

JBT is committed to continued innovation by applying differentiated and proprietary technologies to meet its customers’ food processing needs. It continually strives to improve its existing solutions and develop new solutions by working closely with its customers to meet their evolving needs. 

“Food safety and traceability is a mega-trend that will transform the marketplace over the next generation,” said Carlos Fernandez, JBT’s Executive Vice President and President, Liquid Foods. “Consumers are increasingly rewarding food companies that provide greater transparency on how their food was produced and leaving behind those that don’t. SafeTraces has developed a game-changing technology that has wide-ranging applications across our business. We’re thrilled to partner with them and offer this breakthrough to our customers.”

“On-product, item-level traceability is the holy grail of source assurance, and rapid on-site verification of sanitation process is the holy grain of safety assurance,” said SafeTraces Founder & CEO Anthony Zografos. “We’re the first company to develop a technology that is commercially viable, scalable, and delivers clear benefits and a clear return on investment to customers. Partnering with a renowned market leader like JBT presents a tremendous opportunity to commercialize and distribute our technology at a global scale.”

Learn more about SafeTraces

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