Following the unwelcome interruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food Processing team was delighted to finally get an opportunity to celebrate once again with the finalists and winners of the Food Processing Awards 2021 Awards, at a fun event in Coventry on 9th September. 

The judging panel had the task of choosing the finalists in each category from all the nominations received. A call was then put out to the readers of Food Processing magazine and the judges used this to inform them about the most popular nominations.  

The awards ceremony this year followed the annual Appetite for Engineering conference, which was once again held at the Manufacturing technology Centre at Ansty Park in Coventry. The event was hosted by stand-up comedian Patrick Monahan, who delighted the audience with his humour and charming interpretation of some of the sponsor and winning company names!

The winners were:   

Harting – Han F&B Hygienic Connector 

With Han F+B, HARTING has created an interface that provides connectivity to meet food industry needs. Smooth surfaces make it harder for bacteria to accumulate. The hoods, housings and seals are robust and protect the internal contacts against hose water and aggressive cleaning agents, which are certified by Ecolab and have FDA 21 approvals. 

HYGIENE & FOOD SAFETY (Sponsored by Minebea Intec)
Euchner – Electronic-Key-System (EKS) 

This solution provides a secure password alternative to protect processes and increase product safety. For ingredient delivery, one chocolate manufacturer has reduced the need for 32 key-operated rotary switches to direct the raw ingredients to the right station, to just four read stations. This makes the process of receiving new raw ingredients into the warehouse more effective.

Grundfos Pumps – Water pumping solution for Britvic 

A new pumping system in operation at the Britvic Rugby plan has helped the company meet its energy targets. The packaged booster set solution has resulted in a reduction in energy costs of 45% for pumping water around the facility. This translates into cost savings of around £60,000 per year. The system offers a solution that delivers the correct varying amounts of water, at the right pressure, across the plant. The system was also designed with future expansion in mind, with the ability to deliver over 400m3/hr.

Brillopak – UniPAKer dual robot cells for Morrisons Potato Processing & Packing Plant

The solution loads fresh produce (1kg max) from VFFS, tray-sealed and flow wrapped packs into retailer crates/cases. The automated solution has improved pack presentation in crates and has reduced waste and reliance on agency staff. The lines now run consistently at high speed with no product build-up. 

PROCESS & PACKAGING (sponsored by Trakrap)
Kecol – Reducing waste for Burtons Biscuits 

The company was able to significantly reduce waste when transferring caramel, by installing two priming systems incorporating Kecol H800SN Maxiprime unit c/w 10:1 ratio piston pumps. Kecol was able to customise its standard system to meet the specific requirements of this application. It has  helped reduce waste caramel from between 10% and 30% to less than 1%, significantly reducing expenditure and increasing yield. 

LEAN  & CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT (Sponsored by Cerulean)
Sparc/Fortress – The Raptor Combi combined metal detector and checkweighing conveyor system

The Raptor Combi accurately inspects and checks the weight of larger size products and pack formats – up to 8kg and measuring 300mm by 400mm. The Raptor features paperless, fully auditable COP test routine which pre-configures every test by retailer and product being inspected and alerts QA managers each time a test is overdue. Inspecting up to 150 packs per minute, the Raptor checkweigher is also able to calculate Average Finished Weight Variance.

SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT (Sponsored by Omron)

Britvic’s Young Person Programme, takes on four sixth formers each year as part of the Studio Schools government initiative. The programme offers students practical work experience alongside their schoolwork at its National Distribution Centre. The programme has been a career pathway for local young people with 93% of students who graduated gaining permanent or temporary roles at Britvic or one of its partners. 

YOUNG ENGINEER (Sponsored by Festo)
Daniel Minto an engineering apprentice at Nestlé’s Fawdon factory in Newcastle. 

Dan started as an engineering apprentice with Nestle in September 2016. He excelled in both his academic and practical sessions at the local college and it was clear that he had the potential to be an outstanding young engineer. His academic study resulted in him achieving a clean sweep of distinctions in every unit at level 3 and 4, culminating in a distinction grade overall. In the early stages of his apprenticeship he was an attentive and willing learner. Once he had established himself amongst the team, he was able to undertake more complex tasks using his own initiative which greatly accelerated his learning and subsequently his reputation for delivering excellence. In the latter stages of his apprenticeship he was entrusted with some major projects including creating standard maintenance practice documentation for every planned maintenance task within his department. He also took control of the lubrication schedule for all designated machinery in that department and implemented the use of vibration analysis/condition monitoring on gearboxes, pumps, bearings etc. He moved to shift working in 2018 as he was able to respond to and successfully rectify a range of technical issues that lead to reduced downtime and improved reliability. He was also tasked with reducing change-over time between product variants. In 2020 his NVQ level 3 was completed with ease and at an incredibly high standard which allowed him to be promoted to the engineering technician group as fully qualified maintenance engineer. 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT (Sponsored by Food Processing)
Harry Norman of  OAL

The Food Processing team picked Harry to receive this award because of his passion for technology and determination – during a career spanning 30 years, so far – he has dedicated himself to innovation, determined to shake up the food industry and improve how food is made. 

His experience in the food industry and free thinking helped him to spot trends and stay ahead of the curve, starting with the invention of Autocoding and the launch of the OAL Connected Suite of software solutions, which has helped to transform packaging lines and increase food safety.

Spurred on by this success, and against the backdrop of an industry stretched by rising costs, Harry was convinced that food manufacturing needed to change. He knew OAL could lead the charge, taking the strategic decision to set up a dedicated innovation team. This led to significant investment in new technologies to disrupt the industry, starting with the acquisition of Steam Infusion technology in 2013. 

Not content with acquiring technology, his next conquest was in the field of robotics. His inventions under the APRIL Robotics brand, including a robotic chef and weighing system, have been described as the greatest processing innovation in the last 20 years by one of the world’s largest FMCG companies.