Thursday, December 12, 2013

Working together to take snack packing to new levels



Ishida Europe Ltd. (UK) - It is testament to the supreme reliability and enduring performance of Ishida mulithead weighers that S Series models from the 1980s are still in daily operation at the Park Royal, London factory of Kolak Snack Foods.

But it is equally testament to the ambitions of Kolak and its commitment to product quality and excellence of service that this family-owned business has continued to invest heavily and consistently in new equipment. So over the years, the S range models have been joined by a succession of the latest Ishida innovations, culminating in the last six months in the arrival of the company’s newest snack packaging solution – integrated 18 head R series multihead weighers and Atlas bagmakers, incorporating Ishida’s advanced iTPS software.

Established in 1985, Kolak is one of the UK’s leading snack food manufacturers, supplying a wide range of crisps and extruded snacks to the major retailers throughout the UK and Europe, as well as its own ranges of products under the Kolak, Jacksons, Diamond and Dylan’s brands. The company was a pioneer of the more exotic flavours of crisps that are commonplace today – it’s easy to forget that back in the 1980s ready salted and cheese & onion reigned supreme in the UK - with the introduction of varieties such as Barbeque, Paprika and Bolognese. Kolak was also the first to introduce Mini Poppadum snacks in 1986.



Such a commitment to new product development requires the best equipment, which is what first attracted Kolak to Ishida and why it remains a customer to this day. In particular, as the business has grown, Ishida has been able to meet the need for even higher efficiencies and greater output. However, as Kolak Snack Foods Director Rikin Lakhani points out, choosing the right kit is only half the story.

“It is not simply a question of buying the most suitable weighing equipment. Yes, speed, accuracy and reliability are absolutely vital but the aftercare is just as important to us. And the service and support that Ishida give us is exemplary. They understand what we want, provide the right solution, and if we do ever have a problem or issue, they respond extremely quickly.”

A mutually-beneficial working partnership is important to Kolak as the company takes the same approach in its relationships with its own customers. “Our commitment is to match the quality of our products with a fast-response and flexible service,” explains Rikin. “Every retailer is looking for something a little bit different in their product ranges, be that a different type of snack, flavour or pack size, and we have to be able to deliver their exact requirements.”

Kolak processes in excess of 100 tons of potatoes each day, producing over 25 million bags of snacks and crisps every week, made up of around 350 different SKUs (stock-keeping units) . In such a constantly busy environment, speed and accuracy of the weighing equipment are essential to maximise efficiencies and throughput and it is for this reason that the company has continued to invest in Ishida equipment over the years, each new model bringing further enhancements.



The arrival of the new Ishida iTPS systems follows Kolak’s latest investment of nearly £10m in a new factory next to its existing Park Royal premises, dedicated to the production of extruded snacks. Even with the luxury of a new facility, no successful business can afford to waste space so maximising every available square foot was a particular requirement.

In their twin configuration, the new Ishida weighing and packaging systems take up only about one and half times the space of a previous single multihead weigher and bagmaker, yet are able to deliver around 220 bags per minutes for crisps and as much as 280 bags per minute for extruded snacks, compared to 80 and 90 bags respectively with the older equipment. At the same time, they are achieving accuracy to within 1% of target weight.

And with the high number of varieties and pack configurations supplied by Kolak, changeovers are quick and easy to carry out.

There is still a role for the existing Ishida equipment in this new facility. Two 16 head RZ series weighers with 7 litre hoppers are being used to produce multipacks of the many different snacks varieties that the company produces. For 12 or 10 multipacks of the same variety, speeds of 40 per minute are being achieved; for 32 packs of four different flavours the top speed is 30 per minute.

Ishida also has a huge presence of over 50 checkweighers – mainly DACS-W and the latest DAC-G models – throughout the Kolak operation. These provide vital final weight checks in line with supermarket quality control requirements.



“When it comes to checkweighers, there is no competition,” says Rikin.

A key part of the Kolak business philosophy is creating effective relationships that can be built up and developed over the years. It is true of its customers, its staff – of the 750 people employed, many have been with the business for years, some since the very beginning, and there are now second generations of families employed there – and of its suppliers. And that is why, with further ambitious development plans in the pipeline, Ishida equipment will continue to play an important role.

“The build quality, reliability and integrity of the kit is second to none – you only have to look at the longevity of our S Series weighers to see this,” confirms Rikin. “Add to this the high levels of service we enjoy and the continuing performance and operation enhancements that Ishida introduce to their equipment and I am certain this relationship will endure and prosper for many more years.”

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