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JBT’s FTNON well placed to support fresh-cut industry during COVID-19 crisis

FTNON lettuce - Heemskerk Fresh & Easy

Although grocery retail sales for fresh products have remained steady during the COVID-19 crisis, the practicalities of dealing with such an emergency have created problems across the fresh-cut, ready-to-eat sector, largely as a result of worker absences and labor shortages. JBT’s FTNON business unit – a global leader in technological solutions for fresh-cut and other industries – is well placed to help companies cope with such difficulties, thanks to ingenious systems that can dramatically reduce the amount of manpower needed.

While grocery sales started strongly at the beginning of the crisis, the situation has stabilized and demand for fresh and Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) remains consistent, according to FTNON Sales Manager, Joost Lotgerink Bruinenberg. However, a combination of workers returning to their countries of origin as lockdowns have taken effect and the need to send employees home if they develop symptoms has increased pressure on food processors. 

Fresh green salad with spinach,arugula,romane and lettuce

Fresh green salad with spinach, arugula, romaine and lettuce

This situation, says Bruinenberg, has created an opportunity for FTNON, which provides automated systems covering everything from prepping and trimming for fresh-cut to blanching, cooling and steaming for IGF and ready meals.

“For iceberg, romaine and all kinds of lettuce, we can trim or de-core automatically, so no people are needed to do that job,” he explains. “For example, one person can trim on average 150 kilograms of iceberg lettuce in an hour and if you have 1000 kg, you need around seven or eight people. We can cut it down to two people: one who is feeding the line and another carrying out manual inspection. The rest is done by the FTNON system.”

The need for such automation is going to become more important after the crisis is over, predicts Lotgerink Bruinenberg, driven by greater awareness of food safety and traceability. 

“The industry is going to become more data driven,” he says. “Who grew it, when it entered the factory, what the temperature was when it reached the production area, which store it went to; these kinds of things will become more and more important.”

Learn more about FTNON’s solutions

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

JBT Gentle Can Handling

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.

JBT Gentle Can Handling 2

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

SafeTraces saniDART receives AOAC approval

saniDART-product

JBT ally SafeTraces has announced that it has received regulatory approval from the US-based AOAC Research Institute (AOAC-RI) for its groundbreaking rapid sanitation verification solution, saniDART™. In doing so, saniDART has become the first rapid solution for verifying sanitation effectiveness at a microbial level to receive AOAC certification.

SaniDART addresses major shortcomings of two commonly used methods for verifying sanitation effectiveness in food production: the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) test and the Aerobic Plate Count (APC) test. The ATP test measures the effectiveness of the sanitation processes in removing organic matter but is not a reliable indicator of bacterial inactivation. Meanwhile, the APC test is a reliable indicator for bacterial inactivation, however the 48-hour wait period for results precludes making in-process corrective actions. In contrast, saniDART functions as a powerful tool for monitoring bacterial inactivation with APC-like test quality and results available at a speed closer to that of ATP tests.

“Now more than ever, consumers and regulators are demanding high standards and visibility into food safety practices throughout the supply chain,” says Erik Malmstrom, SafeTraces Chief Executive Officer. “There is a significant unmet need in the food industry for a better, faster, and cheaper solution for sanitation verification at a microbial level. SafeTraces responded and innovated, which is what we do best. Receiving AOAC validation, the gold standard for proprietary testing methods in food safety, is a major milestone for saniDART. We look forward to delivering this groundbreaking solution to the food industry in a big way.”

Verified effectiveness
Results in the AOAC validation report (Performance Tested Method #032001) provided evidence that saniDART is effective at detecting the presence of saniTracers™, proprietary abiotic bacterial surrogates and a key component of saniDART, on stainless steel surfaces representative in food processing and manufacturing facilities. SaniTracers are manufactured by encapsulating short, non-coding DNA sequences within food-grade material particles and are applied on food contact surfaces in processing facilities, including Zone 1.

SaniTracers are degraded and removed in a similar manner as microbes during cleaning and chlorine-based sanitizing, and can be quantified by a simple swabbing and on-site qPCR test that provides results in 25 minutes. By measuring saniTracers levels before and after sanitation, saniDART provides powerful, actionable information in a pass/caution/fail format for verifying sanitation effectiveness.

mini-DART

The saniDART rapid sanitation verification solution includes saniTracers consumables, test kits, an off-the shelf qPCR reader, and a tablet with a cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) feature to identify sampling points in food processing facilities. saniDART is supported by market-leading environmental monitoring software to manage floor plans, scheduling, corrective actions, reporting, and analytics.

About AOAC International
AOAC International (formerly the Association of Analytical Chemists) is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization that develops standards on measuring and determining the safety and integrity of food and other products worldwide. An AOAC-Research Institute (AOAC-RI) validation means that the manufacturer’s claims have been verified by a trusted third-party laboratory.

About SafeTraces
Founded in 2013, SafeTraces is a mission-driven team of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and food safety practitioners dedicated to using nature’s DNA to make food production safer, more transparent, and more sustainable. SafeTraces’ rapid, easy-to-use, and cost-effective testing solutions for sanitation verification and traceability build on groundbreaking and patented DNA-based technology.

Learn more about SafeTraces

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.”

JBT Level Filler

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).

JBT Rotary Pressure Sterilizer_small

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

SmartWash Solutions go beyond improving food safety

In August 2019, JBT and SmartWash Solutions announced a Europe-wide alliance to bring the US-based company’s innovative combination of science, technology and engineering to fresh-cut produce processors accords the continent. Here, Ewoud Buter, General Manager of SmartWash Solutions BV, details how the technology is helping customers make cost savings and improve food safety.

Over the past few years, SmartWash Solutions BV has been active in the European market and conducted multiple successful trials yielding impressive results for large suppliers in the Fresh Cut market. In order to prove the success of their products, SmartWash Solutions offers a free trial in cooperation with the processor, with both sides working to establish common goals and benchmarks. 

During this trial, SmartWash Solutions provides the equipment to enhance the food safety systems while also providing a thorough evaluation of the process, often finding additional cost savings and operational improvements. In this article, the benefits and value of the many SmartWash solutions will be revealed as more than just a food safety improvement. 

SmartWash screengrab

Cost Savings
The most immediate need for processors is to move away from manual or semi manual control and monitoring of their processes and food safety. Not only is automating a huge factor in improving food safety but it can also reduce costs. 

Technology is often an underutilized cost saving tool in the food production industry but transitioning staff away from checking samples by hand can improve data integrity and reduce materials needed for the check samples. Historically, many facilities would employ at least one person to constantly monitor wash lines for critical control points, generating one to two data points per hour per wash line. With real time, automated control and monitoring it is possible to obtain at least 1800 data points per hour, all extremely accurate due to an automatic calibration procedure. This translates to lower labor costs and impactful savings with improved process control and additional feedback on the production runs. 

Another common issue is related to managing wash water at all stages of wash systems. In the past, controllers could not handle the organic load at primary washes, where products would shed the organic material from the fields or oftentimes be the first wash stage after cutting. Now, due to innovations built into the SmartWash controller, also known as the ASAP, these hurdles can be overcome and all points of potential water-born cross contamination can be treated even under the most challenging conditions. Processors that previously only treated the secondary wash are now continuously treating the primary wash as well. This is a huge step in mitigating cross contamination and preventing the perfect storm. 

Often during trials, SmartWash discovers opportunities for operational improvements that may yield substantial savings. For example, one processor in the US reduced their operational down time by implementing the SmartWash Solutions ASAP Controllers. By reducing the water dumps necessary throughout the day, the processor could complete their production schedule over less time and reduce overall usage of water. A different processor was able to cut up to 15% of the facility’s water usage. These benefits can add up to quickly pay for the cost of the SmartWash program. 

SmartWash icons

Universally compatible
Since the ASAP unit is a ‘stand-alone’ unit which can be wheeled in and connected to any wash line, the benefits of the system can be applied to many different processes. Although wash lines may be sourced from different manufacturers, this does not prevent or limit the opportunities to find value as SmartWash technicians take time to evaluate the line during a pre-installation visit and ensure the solutions fit the process.

Most of the time we find wash lines are ready to go and, in some occasions, only need small changes such as an injection point or pump adjustments. Some wash lines are much more turnkey, such as the FTNON manufactured lines, as they can add the necessary components into their build process. We find that this translates to one of the highest performing wash lines in the industry. But all wash lines can have the SmartWash method implemented, with all the associated food safety and operational benefits that it has for the processor.

smart-wash-solutions-ASAP-unit

Quickly adopted
As we all know, buy-in at the floor level is key to making any new technology work. Typically, wash operators are a challenging group to convince as change can often mean new stresses in an already stressful environment. SmartWash Solutions has found the technology is quickly adopted and embraced by floor personnel as it makes their work environment more enjoyable. They no longer handle chemicals and often the air and environment are improved in the facility.

Management is typically very sensitive to the opinions of their floor technicians and they sometimes cannot believe the buy-in. The ease of use makes a big difference in the day-to-day activities of floor employees and the increased accessibility to the data allows the management staff to monitor the improvements. It is a win-win for all involved and this translates to a better working environment. Technology can be a tricky thing in this environment, but our goal is to make everything easier for the staff while ensuring a safe product is produced 100% of the time, as we can’t afford to fail the consumers.

Drew McDonald, vice president of food safety at Taylor Farms, commented:  “SmartWash has enabled us to fill gaps in the process with their automation of data collection and robust, continuous control. While food safety was the main factor in the SmartWash program adoption, we have reaped many other benefits such as cutting water usage, increasing production efficiencies and gaining valuable insight into the performance of more than 100 of our wash systems across the Taylor Farms supply chain.”

Request information about organizing a free SmartWash trial in your plant!

JBT, SafeTraces & TORR Industries bring innovations to Food Processing Expo

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JBT and industry allies SafeTraces and TORR Industries are highlighting technological innovations for effective traceability, filling and other solutions at the 2020 edition of the California League of Food Producers’ (CLFP) Food Processing Expo, which takes place at the Santa Clara Convention Center until February 13. 

California’s largest food processing trade show, the Food Processing Expo features a dynamic array of speakers and workshops, and a Food Processing Technology Showcase on the show floor. As well as highlighting JBT’s wide range of solutions for food processors, the event is also providing an opportunity to highlight innovations from two of JBT’s most recent allies, SafeTraces and TORR Industries. 

SafeTraces
JBT and SafeTraces – a leading food safety and traceability solutions provider – announced a global alliance in July 2019 to integrate SafeTraces’ breakthrough, patented DNA-based technologies into JBT’s solutions portfolio for worldwide distribution. The strategic alliance is focused 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.

Red wine tasting

TORR Industries
California-based TORR Industries became a JBT ally in September 2019, with the aim of bringing TORR’s versatile fillers to companies handling everything from wines and juices to coffee concentrates all across the globe. Through the non-exclusive Sales Representation Agreement, JBT now represents TORR’s low and high-acid aseptic and sanitary liquid filling systems for bags, pouches, and bulk-containers with fill fitments globally, covering applications for products within the liquid foods, fruit and vegetable, dairy, wine, tomato sauce, and ready-to-eat sauce categories. 

Based in Shasta County, Northern California, TORR is the leader in high output wine bag fillers in the US market, but with an international presence that includes installations for coconut milk in Malaysia and crushed pineapple in the Philippines.

JBT will be exhibiting at Booth #1131, along with SafeTraces at Booth #310 and TORR Industries at Booth #1129 at CLFP Food Processing Expo 2020 which takes place at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara CA until February 13.

Request more information or a meeting on the booth