Ishida Europe Ltd. (UK) - Ishida multihead weighers are playing a critical role in helping one of the UK's largest frozen vegetable processors and packers increase throughput by as much as 20%.
The five Ishida weighers at the Pinguin Foods UK site in Kings Lynn include an advanced 24 head CCW-R multihead weigher with three litre hoppers for mixed vegetables and four 5 litre hopper 14-head models for single varieties, which include carrots, peas, sweet corn, beans, broccoli and cauliflower. On the lines where the Ishidas have been installed, along with new colour sorters which check for and reject substandard vegetables, overall weighing accuracies are now running at under 0.7% deviation from the target weight compared to around 1.8% previously.
Pinguin Foods UK is part of the Belgium-based PinguinLutosa group, a global leader in the supply of vegetable and potato based top quality easy to prepare products. Increasing demand, along with Pinguin's continuing drive for enhanced quality and improved efficiency, led the company to install the new Ishida weighers as part of its target to increase production throughput in the factory by 20%.
As Paul Spurrell, the company's Chief Engineer, explains: “It is vital that we keep up with the times. The high quality standards that we set ourselves and which our customers demand mean we have to invest in the latest and best equipment.”
The Ishidas are handling pack sizes of between 125g and 2.5kg, including mixed vegetables of two, three and four varieties on the 24 head mix weigher. In addition, the weighers can be used for special pack requirements. For example, one weigher in ‘double dump' format is being used to pack 10kg boxes, where it has effectively doubled speed and greatly improved accuracy over the previous method.
While the Ishidas were selected initially for their speed, their superior accuracy and reliability have been equally valuable benefits. “We have had no problems with the weighers since their installation,” confirms Packing Hall Manager Steve Walton.
“Another major advantage is their flexibility; we can easily switch product from line to line depending on requirements, something that was not possible with our previous volumetric and older multihead models.”
Part of this flexibility is thanks to the ease of changeover on the Ishida weighers. Product specifications including target weight are pre-programmed into the easy-to-use remote control unit for changeover at the touch of a button. The waterproof construction of each model and easy to remove change parts also mean clean down can be carried out quickly and efficiently.
The weighers are part of an ongoing multi-million pound investment in both the processing and packing operations at Kings Lynn, involving the installation of hi-tech equipment throughout, such as the state-of-the-art colour sorters that can detect imperfections in the vegetables and reject them at high speeds. Another key focus of the investment is on improvement in energy efficiencies. Again the Ishida weighers are playing an important part in this, along with Pinguin initiatives such as reduced water consumption and the introduction of more efficient lighting.
The weighers are in operation 24 hours a day, five days a week, with additional weekend working during busy seasons such as the run up to Christmas. Typical speeds currently are around 75 packs per minute for a 1kg pack, well within the weigher's capabilities of 90 packs per minute.
“We are continuing to work on further developing the performance of the lines,” explains Paul Spurrell. “Our focus is not just on speed but on delivering consistency and ensuring that the weighers are fully integrated so that they work as efficiently as possible with existing equipment.”
Indeed, one immediate impact of the weighers was the need to install new checkweighers, also from Ishida. “Our old checkweighers simply couldn't cope with the higher line speeds,” explains Steve Walton.
The DACS-W checkweighers feature Ishida's unique DSP (Digital Signal Processing) chip which permits accurate signal processing under a wide range of weighing conditions, together with an Ishida built load cell that delivers high sensitivity, response and accuracy. Speed and accuracy are further enhanced by the light weight conveyor, enhanced direct drive motor and a special low friction belt.
Installation of all the Ishida equipment “went like clockwork”, according to Paul Spurrell. “It was literally a question of plug in and play. The weighers are very easy to operate.
“In the few months that they have been installed we have already achieved a 15% improvement in throughput so we are well on the way to reaching our 20% target,” he continues.
Ultimately a repeat purchase is the best indication of the suitability of any equipment for a job. Pinguin Foods first proved the effectiveness of Ishida weighers with the installation of one model, and this led to them being adopted over four more lines. Now the company is planning to convert its final line to include Ishida equipment.
“We are a forward looking company and constantly challenging ourselves to deliver the highest standards to our customers,” concludes Pinguin Foods UK's Managing Director Nigel Terry.
“This means we are committed to continual investment in the best equipment that will help us deliver on these promises. Ishida weighers are a key part of this.”