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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

A&B Process Systems receives safety award from ConstructSecure

JBT’s A&B Process Systems has been recognized by ConstructSecure as one of their Safest Contractors & Vendors. A&B received the Platinum Safety Award for scoring greater than 95% in the safety assessment administered by ConstructSecure. 

The award from ConstructSecure, a global SaaS company that prequalifies contractors and vendors for corporations that have stringent safety requirements, is based on an assessment of current safety management systems and incident rates.   

“Our associates really get it and are on board with our culture of safety,” said Bill Thompson, A&B’s HSE Manager. “Our associates continue to go the extra mile in their daily work to help prevent safety incidents and this award is a testament to their dedication to safety.

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“Our team members do a great job of preventing incidents from occurring.  If they see a potential risk, they report it as a near miss right away and it is addressed immediately. We truly appreciate everyone’s dedication to being as safe as possible.”

Scott Raether, Director of Operations for A&B, added: “We have an incredible group of dedicated employees who believe that zero injuries are expected. We pay attention to little details and truly look out for each other. Awards are terrific, but what’s more rewarding is the knowledge that our employees are acting safely and contribute to a safe place to work.”

Learn more about A&B Process Systems’s solutions

JBT Avure Q&A: HPP West Coast

In the first of an occasional series of High Pressure Processing (HPP) Expert Q & A Interviews from JBT Avure HPP, Patricia Truter, CEO of Vancouver-based HPP toller HPP West Coast explains how she got started in the HPP industry and went on to found the only such facility on the West Coast of Canada.

Q: How many years have you been working with HPP technology? 

Patricia Truter (PT): My family started an HPP business in South Africa, and I then decided to start a tolling facility on the West Coast of Canada (Canada has only one other tolling facility, and it is on the East Coast). I started to work with a business plan and to look for funding, investors or potential partners about three years ago. I finally got my own JBTAvure machine at the end of March 2019.

Q: Why did HPP West Coast decide to buy a JBT Avure HPP machine?

PT: I visited seven different tolling facilities in the US (from different suppliers), and based on my family’s feedback and the feedback I received from tollers in the US, JBTAvure was the number one choice.

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Q: What are the advantages of using a toller like HPP West Coast?

PT: The food producers do not have to set up an HPP facility themselves. They can simply send their products to us, we HPP it, and we can store it at our facility until it is ready to be distributed.

Q: What are popular foods and beverages that HPP West Coast HPP’s? 

PT: We do a lot of fresh juices and dips.

Q: What do you, as an HPP toller, think are the top three drivers sparking HPP’s fast growth?

PT: Consumers want a clean label, but they also want quality and a product that will not expire within a few days.

Q: What HPP products do you have in your fridge? 

PT: I HPP all the fresh milk I buy at the grocery store, guacamole, fresh juice.

JBT Avure HPP will be holding a Webinar on Thursday June 25 to discuss HPP and the growing 2020 trend for processing Ready Meals. In addition, Jasmine Sutherland, CEO of Texas Food Solutions, will join us to tell her story about launching her own HPP Ready Meal. Click here to Register for the webinar!

SmartWash Solutions aims to continue boosting fresh produce safety

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Once the dust has settled following the COVID-19 pandemic, there is likely – many in the produce industry believe – to be an increased awareness of the importance of safety in the food production process, including during the washing and preparing of vegetables. Here, innovative treatments from JBT alliance partner, SmartWash Solutions could be poised to play a key role.

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.

Wash-lines are used by all produce processors across Europe to clean vegetables and salad products, according to Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV; a manual process, which typically involves hand contact. Not only raising potential contamination questions, the process is also highly labor-intensive, typically involving hourly QA testing of pH and Total Chlorine levels in the wash-water. 

The SmartWash acidulent – in combination with the SmartWash controller, known as the ASAP – will continually monitor and control the water chemistry, taking data every 10 milliseconds and saving it every two seconds. As well as improving food quality and safety, Buter says the system will also reduce labor usage over an eight-hour period by 87.5% on average. “With the SmartWash method, you only need to have a manual check once per shift, that’s to say once every eight hours, so you reduce QA hours by almost 90%,” he says.

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Controlling chemistry
Offered under a leasing program, SmartWash ASAP unit installation, maintenance and repairs – when required – are carried out by SmartWash technicians, although the company also provides in-depth training for new customers, covering operation and basic maintenance, including parts replacement. 

However, the potential of SmartWash’s scope to effectively control the chemistry of wash-water could yet be broadened further. The company has significant relationships with scientists in Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain. One of these scientific partners is currently researching the effect of chlorinated disinfectant on viruses. “SmartWash is already massively effective against (Gram negative) bacteria, so we believe it will likely have a positive impact on viruses present on vegetables, including potentially COVID-19,” says Buter. “We are really looking forward to the results of the study.”

Learn more about SmartWash Solutions

To learn more about other ways JBT can help you in the COVID-19 environment please visit www.jbtc.com

Proseal puts focus on sustainable packaging

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With awareness of the importance of sustainability growing worldwide – among processors and consumers alike – so demand has increased for solutions that offer enhanced shelf-life and make use of non-plastic alternatives, writes Tony Burgess, Head of Sales & Control Systems at one of the newest additions to the JBT family, tray sealing solutions specialist, Proseal.

In competitive markets handling highly perishable foods, maximizing both shelf-life and throughput is vital, so at Proseal we are seeing a strong interest in our high-speed tray sealers that can be trusted to deliver efficient sealing and Gas Flush (MAP) processing and keep up with the required speeds of production.

To deliver this, cycle speed is naturally key, but another important requirement of today’s packaging line is the ability to follow motion and use intelligent buffering capabilities that enable trays to feed continuously into a tray sealer without having to pre-sort and adjust pack spacing. This valuable time saving technology is demonstrated by Proseal’s ProMotion™.

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Alternative Materials
More recently the plastic narrative in the consumer media has led to many companies and retailers seeking alternative materials, or light weighting their existing plastic trays. Over the past 20 years at Proseal, we have been working closely with film suppliers in order to devise viable solutions that are able to meet the sealing needs of trays made from both plastic and cardboard, without causing a need for costly modifications to machinery by our customers.  

This includes Halopack®, a gas-tight cardboard tray suited to skin packaging, which offers an 80% reduction in plastic from some traditional plastic trays and is made up from 90% recycled cardboard. And another recent innovation, the plastic ‘snap-pack’ style tray, which seals the portioned product into two separate cavities in the same tray, allowing the consumer to ‘snap’ off and open one half of the pack and dispose of it, whilst the other half remains hermetically-sealed in its gas-flushed environment – allowing the customer to fully benefit from the maximum shelf-life of the product whilst reducing food waste.

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Automated Control Systems
The need for intelligent technology is also evolving in processing lines and such intelligent technology is demonstrated in all Proseal tray-sealers through its many features and benefits. Proseal’s market-leading control systems can see our machinery act as ‘the spine of the packaging line’, integrating all the line machinery components to be driven through the Proseal touch screen.

This ensures that in the event of a problem, the Proseal machine is able to flag an error in a peripheral piece of machinery and pass a stop signal to the feeding equipment, enabling the line to come to a controlled stop in order to avoid overfeeding the tray sealer and prevent unnecessary product or packaging waste.

Learn more about Proseal’s solutions

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. 

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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.”

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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

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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. 

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“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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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