ALECTIA appoints new UK Head of Operations

ALECTIA has appointed Nick Hickman to be the Head of Operations in the UK. He succeeds Richard Crane who, after a 28-year career with PTS and ALECTIA, is retiring to a more leisurely pace of life, but will be involved in the business on a part time, project basis for the time being.

Richard was instrumental in creating a unique culture in the UK company and aligning it with the Danish operations so that the skills and competencies in each location reflect and complement each other. Nick has worked alongside Richard for the last two years strengthening the company’s position as a leading adviser and engineer to the hygienic process industry in Europe and around the world.

Commenting on his appointment, Nick Hickman said: “We all wish Richard well in his retirement and it is richly deserved as his contribution to the business cannot be understated. ALECTIA is enjoying a strong period of growth worldwide and, with our new structure and strategies, we are very well placed to continue this trajectory. I am very much looking forward to working with all our engineers on an exciting pipeline of projects both here in the UK and further afield.”

SICK safety camera is a versatile light curtain alternative

SICK UK has launched the V300 infra-red vision camera to offer a convenient and reliable Type 3 alternative to a safety guard light curtain in production and warehouse environments.

The ISO 13849-1 PLd compliant and competitively-priced SICK V300 has a resolution of 20mm and is suitable for protection of areas up to 1.5m by 1.5m, or more if synchronised as a multi-device unit.

Dr Martin Kidman, SICK UK machinery safety specialist, says, “The V300 is an incredibly useful device. It also solves the problem where a Type 2 light curtain now no longer meets the requirements for PLd applications and the change to a Type 4 light curtain is too expensive, or is clumsy and intrusive.

“The V300’s compact right-angled mount allows it to be fixed unobtrusively in the top corner of a portal or other entrance access to a guarded area, or even integrated into the steelwork frame. It doesn’t restrict access and is not vulnerable to accidental damage as a light curtain can be. In fact, the reflective tape which the light bounces off is incredibly durable!”

The SICK V300 safety camera is an infra-red based scanner with a camera chip system that detects light reflected from a strip of reflective tape mounted opposite which defines the protected field. The 110° field allows full coverage of an opening up to 1.5m by 1.5m with a field depth of about 10° either side for additional coverage, enabling optimal positioning while still offering protection without blind spots.

The flexible reflective strip is self-adhesive, so can be easily contoured to allow for discontinuities such as steps, cable runs or housings, or even curves and round shapes such as rotary table housings. The protected field no longer has to be rectilinear, as with light curtains, and could facilitate new designs of safety guarding.

Tests have shown that the reflective strip is extremely durable, with endurance trials including a loaded crate pushed over it 10,000 cycles. The strong adhesive will not detach under severe industrial conditions. The V300 camera is smart enough to operate safely by ignoring distinct scratches in the strip while detecting human body parts inserted into the field.

The 20mm resolution is sufficient to detect human intrusion to hand size and the response time of 20 milliseconds provides excellent margins for stopping machinery safely. The V300 is easy to set up once the device is positioned opposite the reflective tape, one press of the teach-in button will make the field operable.

Tetra Pak E3 launched at Fispal

In a first for the beverage carton industry, Tetra Pak is launching a filling machine that uses electron beams, not hydrogen peroxide, to sterilise packaging material.

The Tetra Pak E3, on display at the Fispal Technologia International Trade Show in São Paulo, Brazil, promises a range of benefits to customers, not least the potential to run up to 40,000 portion packages every hour. Compared with the existing Tetra Pak A3/Speed platform, Tetra Pak E3 machines will also lower operational costs, improve environmental performance and increase production flexibility.

At the heart of the new machine is the eBeam sterilisation technology that was developed by Tetra Pak in collaboration with COMET, a world leading company in high-voltage and high-vacuum technology. The technology works by focussing a controlled beam of electrons onto the surface of packaging material as it runs through the filling machine, killing any bacteria or micro-organism present.

Charles Brand, Executive Vice President, Product Management and Commercial Operations at Tetra Pak, says, “This is a very exciting development; Tetra Pak E3 not only delivers significant cost and environmental benefits to our customers, it also marks the start of a new era in the world of carton packaging. The efficiency and effectiveness of filling equipment has just taken a major step forward.”

The use of eBeam removes a long physical limitation to carton packaging speed - the hydrogen peroxide sterilization process. With eBeam, speeds of up to 40,000 portion packs per hour, or 11 packs every second, can be achieved … and market tests have shown this increased capacity can save beverage manufacturers as much as 20% in their operational costs.

The replacement of hydrogen peroxide in packaging material sterilisation also significantly improves environmental performance, making water recycling easier, lowering energy consumption and cutting waste.

Furthermore, the modular design of the Tetra Pak E3 platform offers increased production flexibility to manufacturers. By installing an eBeam kit, manufacturers can switch between pasteurised and extended shelf life production orders on the same Tetra Pak E3/CompactFlex filling machine.

The launch of Tetra Pak E3 at Fispal follows successful pilots with some of the world’s leading dairy producers, such as Rajo, the largest dairy producer in Slovakia. Between 2011 and 2014, Rajo produced 110 million packages of UHT milk in Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Slim on a Tetra Pak A3/Speed machine equipped with the new eBeam sterilisation system.

Peter Novorol’nik, Production Manager at Rajo, says, “Innovation is one of the cornerstones of Rajo’s strategy. In the domestic market, we are the market leader in every segment where we are active, but it is not all about new products. We also need to constantly drive for innovation in managing factory costs. Today we can say that the new eBeam technology could be the solution for future improvement. This innovative system offers clear savings on hydrogen peroxide consumption. To sterilise a million packages you need 300 litres of hydrogen peroxide, so the saving is considerable.”

The machine shown at Fispal is a Tetra Pak E3/Speed that will be commercially available starting from 2016.

Line improvement from Sidel achieves 18% saving in energy consumption

A line improvement programme undertaken by Sidel at Japan’s Kirin Distillery has resulted in a substantial saving in the use of electrical energy.

Sidel, the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, carried out a modular upgrade of the production line and fitted its ECO lamps to the blow moulder on the water line at the distillery, providing a balance of cost and sustainability benefits.

The whisky distillery, which currently holds the record for being the world’s largest, is located in the town of Gotemba at the foot of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji. The site was selected because it was felt that Gotemba has a climate most like that of Scotland, the birthplace of whisky. With an average annual temperature of only 13°C, it is cooler and more humid than other parts of Japan - especially in summer.

The Kirin facility is one of ten whisky distilleries in Japan and its production water is taken directly from underground streams flowing beneath the mountain. Unlike most other whisky distilleries throughout the world, the Kirin Distillery undertakes every production process, from mashing to bottling, on-site. It covers a massive 520,000 sq m and has an annual production capacity of 12 million litres of four types of whiskies comprising one malt and three grain whiskies. Recognising the opportunities that the underground streams provide for also marketing bottled water, in 1999 Kirin installed a dedicated Sidel PET bottle blowing line and it is this line on which the modular upgrade has been completed.

With the increasing environmental consciousness of consumers, sustainable packaging and the renewability of water sources are important factors in the bottled water market. In 2013 total volume sales of bottled water in Japan grew by 4% to reach 4.4 billion litres. From 2013 to 2018, the total market for bottled water in the country is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 0.7% in value terms, with still bottled water increasing by 0.3% CAGR.

The Project Manager at the Kirin Distillery says, “Kirin selected Sidel's ECO lamps to be fitted to its existing PET water line in its continuous search for greater sustainability and cost effectiveness. The lamps have generated substantial energy savings and have also brought the benefits of improved process stability and optimised production output.”

There is a growing need within the beverage industry to balance economic performance with environmental concerns and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an integral part of the process. With the heating lamps used to produce preforms accounting for 90-95% of the electricity used by a blow moulder, Sidel ECO lamps have been developed based on a seemingly simple concept that addresses these concerns.

Since their launch in 2008, Sidel's ECO lamps have been meeting customers' requirements providing an effective solution which is easy to install. Available as a modular upgrade of beverage production lines on both the Sidel SBO Series 1 and Series 2 blowers, ECO lamps generally result in energy savings of around 15%. In some cases, installation requires no modification to either the existing oven or the blowing process. As well as reducing energy consumption, Sidel's ECO lamps are robust and have a life expectancy of five thousand hours.

Moriyasu Uchibori, lead Customer Service Manager of Sidel, Japan, says, “With electricity costs still rising globally and the growing drive to reduce CO2 emissions, producers around the world are looking to optimise productivity and minimise the total cost of ownership on all their lines. In a typical line, preform heating lamps are clearly an area with potential for greater energy efficiency. Sidel’s ECO lamps represent one way in which both energy and money can be saved.”

Industry entrepreneur receives OBE

A Nottingham businessman who arrived in England aged just eight years has collected his OBE, following recognition in the New Year’s Honours List.

Sam Sangha, who owns oriental foods wholesaler, Asiana, travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive the accolade from Prince Charles for his services to business.

Sam says: "To receive this honour is very humbling. When my family arrived from the Punjab we had very little money. I've achieved goals through a mixture of hard work, a little luck and by having some fantastic people around me.

"If you told me back when I first stepped onto British soil all those years ago that the Queen would one day be handing me an OBE, I would never have believed it. I have no idea who put me up for it. It is a real honour. It is inspiring, and I'm extremely grateful for what Nottingham has helped me achieve."

Sam came to England in World Cup year, 1966. His family settled in Wolverhampton, but marriage brought him to Nottingham. In 1978 together with two other family members he went on to start one of his first entrepreneurial projects which was a family run business within the Oriental food trade - a business which would later become the Hyperama Cash and Carry Group.

In his 40s, Sam changed career and set up Asiana, foodservice and wholesale supplier, which distributes many known and Asiana own brands, and services several key blue chip accounts. The business also has five stores selling largely oriental foods and a warehouse and distribution centre on the Blenheim industrial estate employing 65 staff. The company has successfully launched the Chinese beer brand - Beiing Gold Beer and recently introduced the aloe vera drink Vita Aloe.

Sam also runs Asiana Developments, a property company which concentrates on buying up former pubs to let to supermarkets and convenience stores. He adds, "It's been quite a journey along the way, but I can't claim all the credit for this honour. Running a successful business is all about having the right people around you - at the office and at home. Without my family, I wouldn't have been able to achieve anywhere near what I have over the last 50 years. The OBE is as much for them as it is me."

SUN Automation Group marks 120 years

SUN Automation Group, a recognised leader in the global corrugated sector, is marking 120 years of combined innovation and customer service since Langston Corporation, the company it acquired in 2001, produced its first Single Facer corrugated machine in 1895.

Charles Langston, and then his son Samuel, were the earliest pioneers of corrugated manufacturing, creating around 50 patents for ever more sophisticated machinery including the Double Facer, Variable Voltage Drives, and Preconditioning/Tensioning Devices. Langston expanded into Europe as early as 1952 and the Far East in 1961 and, after passing through various corporate owners, was finally acquired by SUN Automation in 2001.

SUN Automation’s General Manager EMEA Rob Dal Lago says, “The acquisition of Langston was an inspired move as the two companies have a very similar ethos of customer comes first, and a parallel history of innovation and product development. Many of the ex-Langston engineers are still part of the SUN Automation team, bringing to customers incredibly valuable expertise and experience, especially with older machinery that needs a little TLC to remain in operation.”

The Langston acquisition handed to SUN Automation all trademarks, patents, designs, inventory and equipment for Langston, Staley, and Greenwood machinery, further expanding the scope of support available to box makers from the company. SUN Automation has a number of Aftermarket Service Centres around the globe, strategically placed so that customers can access support quickly and cost-effectively.

Rob Dal Lago says, “SUN Automation has a worldwide reputation for product innovation and helping the industry to produce more, at higher quality, and lower cost. Our superb Aftersales operation, in contrast, has been flying somewhat under the radar. SUN Automation engineers are often called upon to repair or enhance machinery that can be 20, 30, or even 40 years old – and their actions can literally save a plant from going under where the owner simply doesn’t have the funds to invest in new equipment. That’s something to be really proud of – and something that Charles and Samuel Langston would no doubt have fully endorsed.”

Positive mood at Cereals 2015 as farmers look to the future

Despite the squeeze on arable incomes caused by low grain prices and relatively high input prices, there was a positive mood at Cereals 2015 among farmers and exhibitors.

Many of the 24,500 visitors attending the event took full advantage of the expert technical and financial advice on offer from over 500 exhibitors to help drive their businesses forward. Jon Day, events director, says, “Technical and machinery exhibitors were kept busy by growers keen to explore improved cultivations and soil health, better drilling techniques, integrated weed management strategies and impressive advances in precision farming.

“The business area was popular with growers wanting to maintain a grip on budgets and production costs. All this reflected the sense of determination among visitors to ride out current problems. The feedback we’ve had from visitors and exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive. Cereals continues to build on its position as the leading UK arable technical event and a key date for forward-looking arable growers.”

DEFRA minister George Eustice opened the event, which took place at Boothby Graffoe. He emphasised the government’s manifesto commitment to a 25-year food and farming strategy, which he hoped would be in place by the end of 2015. Key areas included developing agricultural technology and competitiveness, opening new export markets and encouraging more young people into the sector. He said, “We need to change perceptions – farming is vibrant and dynamic, with lots of new technology."

Cereals’ reputation as a leading conference venue was reinforced by a revamped programme that included several condensed seminars on some of the hottest topics in the arable sector. Many of the sessions were standing room only.

All the familiar Cereals features returned, including hundreds of crops plots to illustrate the wealth of agronomic developments on show. Other specialist areas included machinery, working demonstrations, post-harvest technology, business area, potatoes, renewables, careers and education and the Syngenta Sprays and Sprayers arena, which showcased the latest spraying technology and equipment.

Cereals 2016 will be held on 15th and 16th June at Chrishall Grange, near Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

PPMA on the search for Ones to Watch

The organisers of the PPMA show have announced the call for nominations for the Ones to Watch awards which return to the 2015 exhibition to recognise the industry’s most talented young engineers.

In an effort to further acknowledge and reward young engineers across the UK’s manufacturing industries, the Ones to Watch Awards will welcome entries from young engineers under the age of 35 who have been working in the processing and packaging industries for a minimum of two years. Entries are welcome from every area of the processing and packaging industry, including robotics, automation and machine vision, and from any discipline including engineering, programming, research and development, marketing or sales.

Sponsored by Festo’s Training & Consulting Division, the 2015 Ones to Watch winner will be chosen by a select group from the PPMA Group Industry awards judging panel and for the first time, young engineers are invited to nominate themselves. All entries must be supported by a reference from a manager, mentor, employer or business partner.

If you’re a young engineer who has designed new technology to increase the efficiency of your production line, or you know a colleague who has won a string of top accounts and improved sales across the business, the PPMA wants to hear from you. Individuals who have shown exceptional entrepreneurship, commitment and diligence within their role make ideal nominees.

Dan Stamp, gold winner of the 2014 PPMA Ones to Watch award and Design Engineer for Kliklok, says, “I was delighted to have won the gold award at the PPMA Show’s Ones to Watch awards. Not only is it great to be recognised by a professional body and a panel of industry figures but I believe it helps encourage other young professionals and graduates to take notice of the packaging and processing sectors, and explore what career opportunities it has to offer.

"It does worry me seeing so few young people entering the packaging and processing industry. There are so many interesting challenges that face packaging and processing professionals so it’s great that the PPMA continues to recognise their contribution to the industry, driving awareness for the next generation of engineers.”

Festo will provide the top three finalists with a place on its Training & Consulting employee engagement workshop ‘Don’t just feed me chicken’ worth £250. This unique training course will provide the finalists with a chance to explore the key leadership principles to engage, enable and empower employees by interacting and observing the behaviour of a range of birds of prey at the Hawk Conservancy Trust.

Gold, Silver and Bronze winners will also win additional training courses, with the Gold winner receiving a complimentary, course worth £5000 from Festo’s Training & Consulting portfolio. Silver and Bronze winners will also receive complimentary training courses worth £1500 and £1000 and will appear in the achievement gallery at the show. A wide range of training courses are available for selection including people management, organisational management and technical based program training – all refined to meet the winners' business needs and requirements.

Grant Collier, Head of Marketing for the PPMA Group, says, “We are delighted to welcome back the Ones to Watch awards to the PPMA Show 2015. As a group, we are committed to helping the industry establish solutions to deal with the current manufacturing skills gap and at this year’s show we’ll be focusing on how we can achieve this. As part of this year’s seminar sessions, we’ll be introducing the PPMA BEST initiative – a new charitable trust aimed at recruiting more young people in the industry – and will welcome apprentices from both PepsiCo and Nestle to share their experiences.

“The Ones to Watch is just one strand of a much larger programme to recognise young engineers in the industry and to excite and inspire those considering a career in the packaging and processing industries. We look forward to announcing this year’s Ones to Watch winner at the PPMA Show 2015 in September.”

To make a nomination for the 2015 Ones to Watch awards, email onestowatch@stormcom.co.uk for further information. The winners of this year’s Ones to Watch will be announced at the PPMA show on 29th September to 1st October at the NEC, Birmingham.

Innovative machines scoop IMMA awards at Cereals 2015

A radical new header, a versatile strip-till cultivator, a powerful new tractor range and a drift-free band sprayer have been awarded gold in this year’s International Machinery Manufacturers’ Awards held on the first day of Cereals 2015.

Four categories covering harvest machinery, cultivation equipment, tractors and sprayers attracted entries from 29 companies.

This year’s winners and runners-up lived up to the competition’s aims to help recognise and encourage the uptake of novel, practical technologies, says Peter Redman, chairman of the judging panel. “Machinery buyers are always looking for improvements in performance and reductions in cost. In addition they are encouraged to achieve sustainable soil management, to control pollution and maintain biodiversity.

“The IMMA aims to point buyers to those machines that can make a difference in any one or all of these areas, and that also showcase innovation to meet the challenges of a changing environment.”

IMMA was launched in 2014 to recognise companies that have produced machines sold in the UK that stand out from the crowd by delivering a mix of innovation, cost-effectiveness and value.

After much deliberation, the judges picked the four winners for 2015. In the Harvest machinery category, New Holland's Dual Stream Header uses a VariFeed header but also a second stubble-cutting knife mechanism to cut the amount of non-grain material going through the combine, boost capacity and cut fuel use. The judges said, “By using twin knives at different heights New Holland has come up with a radically different way of reducing the amount of straw going through the combine.”

In the Cultivation equipment category, Kverneland’s Kultistrip strip-till soil management system is said to improve yields, cut production costs and prevent soil erosion in varying climatic and agronomic conditions. The judges said, “Kverneland’s Kultistrip strip-till soil management system offers a particularly versatile system for farmers wanting to cut fuel use and look after their soil.”

Valtra’s new T4 range of tractors that claim to give new levels of reliability, ease of use and low cost of ownership won the tractor category. The judges said, “Valtra’s new T4 tractor range brings new comfort, power and sophistication to the Finnish company’s offering. Cab and control layout, in particular, are greatly improved.”

The winner in the Sprayers category was Micron's Varidome S3 100Hi-Flo, pictured, a shielded band sprayer for cereals, root and other narrowly planted row crops with patented double membrane Varidome 100HiFlo shields to eliminate product transfer onto the crop and has a LERAPS 3 star rating. The judges said, “The Varidome’s inter-row shielded band sprayer gives drift-free spraying of weeds without affecting crops. This is certainly a technique that offers a lot of potential for the future.”

Harris secures major redevelopment opportunity with Britvic

HCM Projects, which is part of Harris Construction Management, has started work on a major £7 million construction project for Britvic Soft Drinks at the company’s Swinnow Lane site in Bramley near Leeds.

The project will enable Britvic to substantially increase its production capacity and create 40 new jobs, taking total staff numbers at the site to more than 200, as well as helping meet the demands of a challenging and competitive commercial climate. Britvic’s factory and warehouse in Leeds currently produces mixers and fruit juices such as J2O for the domestic and international market, in both bottles for consumers and bag-in-a-box containers for the hospitality industry.

HCM has been appointed to undertake the design and construction of new extensions and alterations to the existing buildings and staff car park, provide a new water treatment plant and new lorry park at the facility.

Associated works include diversions to below-ground drainage, slab improvements, structural alterations, installation of “food-safe” wall linings and rearrangement of the existing internal mechanical and electrical service installations.

Jason Adlam, Chief Executive of Harris Construction Management (HCM) Limited, commented: “We are delighted to have secured this contract, which will further enhance HCM Projects’ reputation for the delivery of projects in the Commercial and Distribution Sector. Whilst we operate throughout the UK, it’s always great to be working on high profile sites close to our Yorkshire base.”

John Marshall, Project Engineer at Britvic says: “We’re delighted this work is now underway, that will enable us to significantly expand our workforce and will create one of the most advanced bottling plants in Europe.

“HCM immediately understood our requirements and has a wealth of experience and an impressive track-record working on similar large-scale projects on live sites, which made them the ideal company for us to work with.”

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