AUTOMATE YOUR WAY OUT OF THE LABOUR SHORTAGE

AUTOMATE YOUR WAY OUT OF THE LABOUR SHORTAGE

As with most bar and chocolate manufacturers, one of your biggest headaches right now is staff. Not just finding people, but finding reliable people and keeping them for longer than a few days or weeks. 

There’s much you can do to improve recruitment and staff retention, but at the other end of the issue is the work itself. If you can minimise your need for FTE, staff shortages become less of an issue and by eliminating repetitive, unskilled work, you’re left with fewer jobs that can be higher skilled, better paid and easier to staff. 

While some companies are implementing clever systems like staff sharing to bridge the gap, that’s only possible if your manufacturing plant is set up to be operated with minimal training. And an even better solution would be to have those plants set up to avoid the need for operators altogether. 

While Industry 4.0 has been upon us for years now, few factories have made the switch, continuing to use systems that need manual tasks. The Gartner Group calls this the hype cycle, suggesting new technologies get a lot of press but take a while to be adopted. Now that the need for automation is becoming more urgent, we’re likely to see those hyped technologies properly integrated into the factory floor. 

What you could be doing now   

Implement small automations that add up to boosted efficiency 

While big technological advancements are the most attention-grabbing, the real gains are and have always been in the small, thoughtful automations that add up over time. For example, in our slitter, sensors predict belt/slab tracking and automatically align the slab with the slitter to eliminate or reduce edge trim.   

Invest in Internet of Things (IoT) – smart objects 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a catch-all term to describe everyday objects that are connected to the internet. It’s the same tech that lets you turn on your coffee machine from your mobile. With various components of your operation connected in this way, it could give you the next level of insight and control. One way this could minimise the need for FTEs is to build a digital twin. This is a virtual copy of your real-life factory floor and other assets that lets you more easily predict and identify issues, and optimise processes before they’re rolled out. An IoT plant also delivers crucial data which can help you optimise staff requirements and inventory. 

Implement software for faster training and knowledge access 

Along with manual processes come labour-intensive training and paper-based information. Automating training and digitising access to process and product information can make inducting new workers far simpler and reduce the impact of high staff turnover. At the simplest end of the spectrum is a range of software that uses digital workflows, QR codes, video and imagery to guide workers through new tasks and product information. This means new workers can be introduced to the app and then all but left to it. 

For more complex tasks and systems, manufacturers are using virtual and augmented reality. For example, virtual reality technology lets workers learn and practise in a virtual environment using headsets and gloves. Augmented reality works by overlaying graphics onto live imagery of the real world. Fun face filters on social media are examples of augmented reality in action. On the factory floor, this technology delivers incredibly useful access to information. Workers could hold up a phone or tablet to see a piece of equipment on screen, overlayed with instructions or information. Our world-class partner, Rockwell Automation, offers proven technology for AR/VR and diagnostics. 

Enable remote access and monitoring 

While remote access and monitoring could be game-changing for all manufacturers, one study suggests it’s particularly important in batch manufacturing. It could let management analyse machine performance, perform scheduled upgrades and fix issues without having to be on-site – this allows you to spread your engineering expertise across more facilities. 

Look into collaborative robots, aka “cobots” 

A cobot is technology that works alongside people. These machines can be “trained” to amplify human workers’ speed, strength, accuracy, safety or knowledge to boost productivity and minimise FTEs without the need for rigid industrial robots. One example of a cobot in action is in DHL’s Miami facility. There, a cobot is boosting mail sorting capacity by 35% – AI enables a robotic arm to quickly sort packages into bins, each representing a courier route. While this and most other cobots already in operation are custom-designed, Mitsubishi’s cobot, Melfa Assista, makes this technology far more useful. Its purchase price is accessible, and the robot arms can be easily trained physically or on a Windows device to suit a variety of tasks and environments.  

Automating the right things 

It’s easy to get lured by cutting-edge technology, but innovation is only useful if it’s fit for purpose. 

That’s why any automation transformation has to start with how you operate and what would make the most material difference. 

Our co-design process allows for that customisation. We call it Creating Together, where you get access to our top technicians to create bar and chocolate machinery that is tightly aligned to your needs. It means your technology will deliver an excellent return on investment and, perhaps most importantly, will future proof you against ongoing staff sourcing headaches. 

SOLVING MANUFACTURING’S STAFFING SHORTAGE

SOLVING MANUFACTURING’S STAFFING SHORTAGE

Automation, psychology and smarter design 

We’ve spent the last quarter on the ground in the US visiting bar and chocolate manufacturers, from small, independent outfits to large-scale facilities owned by multi-national conglomerates. Despite their obvious differences in size, they’re all facing the same major issue: lots of demand, not enough staff to meet it.  

Across the board, US manufacturers are finding it nearly impossible to hire or retain staff and some are having to downscale production. That’s particularly painful, given that bar and chocolate sales are booming as people head back to school and work. Some companies are offering sign-on or referral bonuses and increasing wages to tempt workers back. Others are wondering if their equipment could hold the key to labour shortages.  

To that question, the answer is ‘yes’. But while automation and AI get the most press, our 30-year experience tells us they’re not the only factor.  

So, what should you be looking for? It’s about overall efficiency gains and minimising the need for people on the floor – so here’s where to start.    

Automate labour-intensive areas 

Automation and AI in bar and chocolate manufacturing are nothing new. They don’t just increase efficiencies, but also let manufacturers avoid error and increase accuracy, hygiene levels and capacity. Even with so many upsides, the capital investment means most manufacturers haven’t been rushing to introduce this technology – until now.  

With labour becoming scarcer and increasingly more expensive, the financial equation is tipping. We’re picking it’s the push many manufacturers need to leap into more automation in their facilities.  

When looking for machinery, pay less attention to its use of breakthrough technologies, which can come with teething issues. Instead, prioritise equipment that automates areas that require the most hands-on time. For example, if product bunches in your slitter, sensors can predict it and automation resolves the issue before a worker needs to intervene. Coupled with a few other automation – like realigning the position or bars – this could eliminate one worker from a shift.  

Create easier work 

Many companies tell us their staffing problems are being exacerbated by COVID relief funds – people are opting for the lower pay of a benefit rather than returning to the hard work of the factory floor. We’ve heard time and time again that those they do hire often don’t return after a first shift.  

Reducing the heaviest and most awkward tasks could help tip the scales back in favour of work. For example, rather than having staff heave around 20-liter pails to get product into the hopper, a conveyancing system can add it on-demand. That will come with efficiency gains too and means any new hires are more likely to stay longer.  

Use smart design features to minimise human intervention 

In an ideal world, a factory could be almost entirely automatic – that’s the key word, though: almost. You would still need people there to set up, start and stop the machines, and jump in if things go wrong. 

So, our focus has been not just on automation but on buildingin smart design features that avoid or minimise the need for human intervention 

For example, over thirty years, we’ve focussed on making our machinery fast and easy to clean – a traditionally labour-intensive area. One such feature is that our equipment can be disassembled , making it possible to sanitise in a fraction of the time compared with a traditional setup. 

What machinery will solve things for you?  

Of course, swapping out each machine on the floor is hardly practical – the key is to replace equipment that will net you the most gain. Here’s how to work out where to start.    

Identify areas where your workers spend most of their time 

Talk to your floor managers or observe a shift. What inefficiencies can you see? Where do you see more than one person working on a single task? Those are the areas where automation or smart design features could improve your efficiency and reduce reliance on labour.  

Investigate your startup and rundown procedures 

Does it take several people to get the line up and running? Does it take a long time? If so, find out why – there may be one point of inefficiency that’s easily solved.  

Make a list of events that meant stopping the line 

Do you see any patterns? If it’s always related to a similar error with the machine or inefficiency, it could be an area where new equipment could significantly improve productivity.  

Ask floor managers what the least popular jobs are 

What do staff complain about most? What tasks do people avoid? They’ll tend to be the heavy, dirty or boring jobs – and they’re the tasks that put people off working in your facility. How could you eliminate those tasks?  

Talk to about the quirks of the machinery 

These are the people with the most intimate knowledge of your machinery. They’ll know about any quirks and irritating inefficiencies in their daytoday – an error they need to resolve once a day or once a week, or a setup that adds more time and effort than it needs to.  

Quantify your losses  

How much is it costing you to reduce capacity or pay staff more? That will be a real dollar figure, but also a lost opportunity. Given that so many other bar manufacturers are struggling with capacity, what would it mean for your growth if you could solve inefficiencies and meet demand where your competitors can’t? For help calculating these numbers, click here to access our ROI calculator.  

Equipment is the key 

Introducing bar and chocolate manufacturing equipment with smart design and automation was once hailed as a nicetohave – something to invest in to aid growth. The issue now facing most manufacturers isn’t beating competitors – it’s simply surviving. 

Our MD Nick is still in the States visiting manufacturers – book a time with him to see how PTL Equipment could help you overcome staff shortages.  

THE FOUR ISSUES FACING AMERICA’S MANUFACTURING

THE FOUR ISSUES FACING AMERICA’S MANUFACTURING

Trends and insights from the coalface of the industry 

For the last three months, I’ve been travelling around the United States, connecting with customers who hail from the full spectrum of manufacturing. From facilities owned by huge multinational conglomerates to independent co-manufacturers and private companies, I found I was having very similar conversations about the trends, pressures and pain points of operating in an (almost) post-pandemic America.  

Here I share the key trends I’ve seen on the ground and at the coalface.  

No hands on deck

The pandemic has amplified the already tricky issue of staffing  

The pandemic has shaken things up in ways that many of us couldn’t have predicted. One of those is the impact it has had on staffing. In our industry and across many others, businesses simply can’t find or keep staff. While that’s always been an issue, the problem has reached a critical point, with some facilities having to downscale production simply because they don’t have the hands they need on the factory floor.  

The feeling is that this is, in part, driven by benefit schemes put in place to support people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Workers found that by staying home, they were making just as much, or close enough to it. While the subsidy ended a month ago, employers haven’t seen the influx of workers they were expecting. Many are using bonuses for referring and signing-on, and paying more per hour than they would have in the past.  

The disruption to communities and schedules adds to the issue. For example, one remote facility said its employees rely on carpooling to get to the site. So, if the driver stays at home, it means the other four people can’t turn up either.  

The solution that many employers are turning to is simply to work around the lack of staff. Many purchasing decision-makers are looking for more automation, not just because it can save money on staffing, but it removes the risk of variability.  

Getting from A to B is harder

Delays, costs and new shipping routes 

It’s no secret that the COVID crisis has wreaked havoc with supply chains. I saw that for myself from a flight into LA. Out in the harbour, I saw 50-odd boats just sitting there, waiting to get to the port. On those boats, I’m sure, were goods and products that US businesses were desperately waiting for. I suspect this issue alone could create unforeseen changes to the makeup of the country – huge ships are now docking in alternative port towns, and trucks rerouting through sleepy villages.  

Even with these changes, getting things from A to B takes time and money. My clients tell me it’s hard to secure a container, and when you do, it can cost four times as much as it once did. You’ll also be waiting a lot longer – what used to take five weeks now takes up to eight.  

Facetoface is back in a big way  

Trade shows and handshakes are how we do business  

We had an amazingly productive time at the PACK EXPO 21 in Las Vegas. The level of attendance and enthusiasm made it clear that while we all accepted having to do business online, it was hardly the preference. Yes, we coped and adapted, but nothing could replace the value of face-to-face.  

Particularly in our industry, which has such a long sales cycle and requires big capital commitments, people want to shake hands. They want to know they can trust you. So even if it’s just sitting down and having a coffee, you get the chance to get to know someone. In a virtual meeting, you’re rushed and focused – there isn’t much time to connect.  

For us, getting in front of customers means we can better understand their pain points and how we can help. That’s better for our clients, and it’s good for us – it accelerates projects and identifies opportunities we might not otherwise have seen. Catching up with other people is also what makes work enjoyable. The PACK EXPO attendees were getting a chance to see old friends – it wasn’t just about work. 

Hygiene and extra SKUs are still the focus  

And flexibility is the solution to both 

After the year we’ve had, I’m not surprised that hygiene has remained at the forefront of clients’ minds. More people ask how they can build hygiene practices into processes and equipment as standard – rather than an extra step that slows down production. Similarly, the trend for SKU proliferation hasn’t slowed down – customers want variety, and manufacturers are struggling to work out how to deliver on that.  

The answer to both issues is, of course, multipronged, but it comes down to flexibility. That starts with equipment you can customise to the way you need to work. Clients are also looking for smaller machines to make more of existing factory spaces, ones that have hygiene features built-in and make changeovers fast and simple.  

Rigorous team training is perhaps more of an ask, given the issues with sourcing and keeping staff. It’s why more customers are looking for equipment that reduces the chance of human error and can be used almost without training. It’s part of why I’m seeing so much interest in our V20 melter, which seems to tick a lot of these boxes.  

I’d be happy to share more about these insights and trends, and how they could apply to your business. Click here to schedule a virtual meeting or read our case studies here. 

3 PROFITABILITY GAME-CHANGERS

3 PROFITABILITY GAME-CHANGERS

How your production line affects your bottom line  

If internet experts and business management guides are anything to go by, boosting profitability is easy. Find the gaps in your efficiency, rework key processes and your bottom line will improve.  

Of course, the reality is far more complex. Most production facilities are already working at full volume, and squeezing out extra numbers can require major process changes and even new machinery. By the time you’ve implemented any changes, the investment in time, equipment and training may make short work of any potential gains.   

That’s why enhancing your bottom line needs to be smart and strategic – not a quick fix. At PTL, we’ve helped a whole range of customers make real changes to their facilities and ultimately boost their bottom line.  

After years in the business, here’s what we’ve learned:  

1: Be smart in your use of space  

The way you configure your production floor – and the equipment you use – can make a tangible difference to your production numbers. This can mean reworking lines to maximise efficiency and choosing machines with a smaller footprint. More compact machinery lets you add more production lines and SKUs without increasing the size of your facility. PTL’s V20 Melter is a prime example – it’s easy to move and reassemble, fits into smaller areas and produces on par with larger machines.  

Because compact machines can slot into smaller spaces, they can also help you create shorter, more efficient production runs. Rather than being constrained by machine size and the space available in your facility, you can set machines like the melter in place exactly where they’re needed. This can help reduce the length of pipes required and the overall time needed to create each product. Even if this only equates to milliseconds per bar, when you’re producing thousands of bars per day this can have a discernible impact on profitability. 

When Pittsburgh, PA’s Trufood Manufacturing was looking at options for a new melter, a smaller footprint and shorter pipe runs were two key criteria. They found that the V20 was able to deliver in both areas, which helped them save time and boost efficiency.  

Project Engineer Mike Berko explains: “The short length of piping means the circuit can be broken down into easy-to-handle individual components that can be easily and thoroughly sanitised in a fraction of the time that would be required with a traditional setup.”  

2: Diversify your product offering  

While some businesses manage to thrive while sticking to one or two well-loved lines, profitability isn’t always about sheer volume. With consumers demanding frequent new product launches, different types of product to meet dietary needs and interesting ingredient combinations, increasing the variety of SKUs you produce can be another path to boosting your bottom line. 

The right equipment can help. Older machinery tends to be designed for a single product or category, with little flexibility. Now, modern machinery can be used for multiple types of product and process, making it easier to adapt your facilities as you develop new product lines.  

Again, the V20 Melter is a great example. It’s a flexible melter, rather than one designed to work with specific bar-line machinery, so it can be adapted for use in all types of facilities. Importantly, the V20 is designed for ease of cleaning and breakdown as well, making it quick and efficient switching between product lines, even if you’re working with allergens. When you’re producing more products in smaller volumes, this is crucial. 

 TruFood Manufacturing sells a wide range of products, including chocolate, protein bars, and other health-focused foods. Their broad product range means flexibility is a must at their production facility. Project Engineer Mike Berko explains why: “Ease of use, ease of sanitation, minimal downtime for sanitation and flexibility to switch between products to keep up with our customers’ demands.”  

3: Machinery matters  

Better machinery and equipment seems like a logical step in boosting efficiency – unfortunately, you can’t draw a straight line from new machinery to a better bottom line. Any investment in new machinery needs to be backed by gains in productivity over time.   

Although you won’t necessarily see a return on your investment immediately, you must be able to forecast improved efficiency and a boost to your bottom line in the long term. This is where seeking out flexible, modern equipment can make a difference – it can help you maximise efficiency and increase SKU production in future, even if that’s not a priority right now. 

National Foodworks Services is an Illinois-based facility that manufactures food products for a wide range of smaller operators. The business has invested in the best possible equipment for their production floor – after all, that’s what drives profitability. 

President Matt Dausman explains: “The reliability of this line is of paramount importance as it drives 95% of our revenue.”  

Because NFS helps develop new products for so many other businesses, big and small, it’s also essential that their production line is flexible – they need to be able to switch between products quickly, introduce new ingredients and product lines frequently, and maintain rigorous standards of hygiene throughout.  

“The many different types of bars we have been able to run on this line has really helped our flexible business model,” says Matt.  

Process perfection with PTL  

If your business has done things a certain way for years, introducing new equipment and new processes can be difficult and time-consuming. But if you want to boost efficiency and improve your bottom line, there’s really no alternative.  

We can’t offer a quick fix, but our flexible, customisable, hyper-efficient machinery means we can help you make real changes in your manufacturing facility – and hopefully improve profitability in the long term. 

Need more detail? Download our eBook ‘5 Key Elements of Successful Bar Production’ to see our world-class equipment in action.  

 

MELTER MAGIC: EFFICIENCY, FLEXIBILITY, SUCCESS

MELTER MAGIC: EFFICIENCY, FLEXIBILITY, SUCCESS

Using the right melter can help you innovate and adapt in a fast-moving industry

Food manufacturing moves at warp speed – is your business keeping up? With consumers constantly on the lookout for new products and innovative flavor combinations, manufacturers are in a race to get new products to market. More and more factories are manufacturing huge product lines and introducing new SKUs frequently – impossible if your machinery doesn’t allow efficient change-overs and cleaning. 

If you’re using older machinery designed for one or two product lines, it can be difficult to introduce new SKUs efficiently – by the time you set up new equipment or implemented new systems, you’ve fallen behind your competition. You need machinery that’s flexible enough to let you introduce new products frequently, and do it all without compromising the efficiency or quality of your production process.  

Why flexibility matters

This new normal means that your production facility and machinery set-up can’t be set in stone. Equipment needs to handle a wider range of products, with shorter run lengths and increased changeovers. If your equipment isn’t up to speed, your business may fall behind as your competitors process far more bars in a shorter time.  

Fred Grep, Director of Engineering at US-based Hearthside Food Solutions, switched the business to PTL equipment shortly after the business launched. He explains that using efficient machinery, customized to the unique product range, gave a competitive advantage right from the start.  

“It worked out well because our modifications were changes our customers wanted to see. By getting them first, it meant Hearthside was ahead of the game,” he says.  

More bars, similar costs 

As with almost every business, manufacturers need to maximize efficiency if they want to succeed. There’s no point in producing a huge range of bars if the process is slow and costly – passing the price on to consumers is usually a no-go. That’s why flexibility needs to be backed up with efficiency, so new processes and production methods can be completed rapidly, and frequent changeovers between SKUs don’t slow down the process.  

PTL’s new V2O melter was designed to do just that, with features built around efficiency and fast changeovers. Instant melt functionality and continuous supply mean fewer delays and faster processing, while removable melt grids and easy-wash design make it simple to clean between products – even if you’re dealing with allergens. The whole unit is more compact than older models, making it easy to move around your production floor to be used in different processes. The ‘plug and play’ design means that it can be set up next to other equipment as needed, eliminating long product pipe runs, which can slow production time and be cumbersome to clean afterwards.   

Ready for innovation  

Every manufacturer wants to make the latest bar – the one consumers go crazy for – but introducing amazing, innovative products means changing manufacturing lines and, in some cases, even investing in new machinery before a product goes to market.  

Newer chocolate manufacturing equipment – like the V20 – is designed with innovation in mind. Built-in flexibility makes it much easier to configure production lines and produce new bars without buying costly new machinery. This means you can create products that combine ingredients in surprising new ways, use different texture profiles to stand out, or appeal to demographics with specific dietary needs.  

In many cases, you can also customize equipment to suit your production goals. That’s what Hearthside did when it wanted to create a specific range of bars and other products. As Fred explains, the company worked with PTL to customize equipment that fit its unique needs.  

“By [PTL] being open to our modifications and design change requests, we can create superior solutions for customers and gain increased flexibility in our operations,” he enthuses.  

Flexibility, efficiency, innovation

As more products hit the market every day, it’s becoming near-impossible to succeed with a limited range of SKUs. New, interesting products are a must-have – and your production facilities need flexible, efficient, and reliable machinery to turn those innovative ideas into a reality.  

That’s where PTL’s V20 Melter, along with other chocolate & bar -manufacturing equipment, comes in. The V20 is a unique piece of machinery, designed to fit the modern manufacturing environment. Rather than a set piece of equipment that can’t be modified or changed without a large time investment, it’s a flexible, hyper-efficient unit that can adapt to meet your changing needs.  

Here’s how it works:  

  • Efficiency – accelerate production speed 
  • Flexibility – customization and quick changeovers make the V20 ideal for producing a wider range of bars and other products.  
  • Changeover speed – efficiency continues with high-speed changeovers and ease of cleaning – even for allergens.  
  • Size and portability – the smaller footprint makes the V20 easy to slot in anywhere on your manufacturing floor, and move around as needed.  
  • Innovation – flexible, customizable functions mean that manufacturers can create and develop new, innovative bars without the need for a whole new equipment set-up.  

In an industry obsessed with innovation, it could be just what you need to get ahead.  

Want to know more? Download our eBook ‘How SKU-ed up is your chocolate and bar production process?’ for insights, statistics, and more detail.    

HYGIENE COULD BE YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

HYGIENE COULD BE YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Support SKU proliferation with smarter hygiene practice

Hygienic production is a basic requirement – a must-have, rather than a value add. It’s something that holds production back, an annoying box to check as quickly as possible. 

But we look at hygiene differently. When production equipment is engineered to minimize the possibility of contamination, it frees your production capability. Hygiene design can and should be supporting your efficiency and SKU proliferation.

At its most simple, faster changeovers mean more flexibility and more SKUs.

Added to that, food safety incidents cost an estimated US$77.7 billion in 2012, making preventative action a worthwhile investment.

Making best-practice hygiene simple

Proactive contamination prevention comes down to making it part of your BAU, rather than something you must do in addition. The most important part of that? The design of your equipment. As a baseline, your equipment must be built around the ten principles of hygienic design. This is equipment that:

  • Can be cleaned to a microbiological level
  • Is made of materials that are compatible with food products, the environment, and sanitizing products
  • Can be easily inspected, maintained, and cleaned
  • Is self-draining
  • Has hollow areas like frames or rollers hermetically sealed
  • Doesn’t have pits, cracks, corrosion, or protruding edges where product can collect
  • Doesn’t work against sanitary conditions by harboring or growing bacteria
  • Has hygienic maintenance enclosures (like electrical control panels or chain guards) and human/machine interfaces (like pushbuttons and valve handles)
  • Doesn’t work against the hygienic performance of your other equipment and systems

Any decent production equipment should meet these basic requirements. But to turn hygiene processes into a streamlined part of your operations, give you the flexibility to grow your SKU numbers, and a competitive edge, you’ll need to go farther than that.

Invest in team training and instruction

The best-designed equipment is only as good as the team operating it. That’s why your equipment should be supported with on-site training and easy-to-follow instructions. As part of any installation, we make sure the wider team is well-versed in the use of the equipment and include large, picture-based instructions with all our machines.

“PTL truly cares about your success,” says Fred Grep, Hearthside Food Solutions’ Director of Engineering.

Source customized equipment

The reality is that off-the-shelf equipment won’t perfectly suit the way you work or your existing equipment. That means you’ll have to find workarounds to achieve even minimum hygiene standards. With equipment that suits your requirements, you’re not faced with those compromises. That’s why we follow a ‘creating together’ process. After understanding your unique requirements, space, and existing equipment, we produce basic models, sketches, layouts, and process-flow diagrams for you to review.

That collaborative approach meant Hearthside Food Solutions got equipment that slotted right into their existing line. That, says Fred, is what gave them their competitive advantage.

“PTL’s equipment and approach to customer service enables us to create a competitive advantage. By [PTL] being open to our modifications and design change requests, we can create superior solutions for customers and gain increased flexibility in our operations.”

Smart design features

When it comes to equipment that streamlines your hygiene practices, details matter. For example, in PTL’s V20 Melter, non-product contact surfaces are also designed with hygiene in mind. That’s because even with the highest standards of containment, bacteria can still travel from one part of the facility to another.

That attention to detail was part of what impressed Tru Food Manufacturing.

“What was obvious was the amount of time and thought that had been put into all aspects of the machine. This equates to ease of use, ease of sanitation, minimal downtime for sanitation, and flexibility to switch between products, to keep up with our customers’ demands.” – Mike Berko, Project Engineer.

Clever innovations

Other design elements that make hygiene practice far simpler are the v20’s uniquely small footprint and portability. Its self-contained, removable melt grid and accessible stirrer drive make processes more flexible and compliant with regulations. Like all PTL equipment, it also keeps the number of swap-out parts to a minimum. And any that remain are tool-less, easily stored, and handled on hygienic storage and wash-down carts.

“The short length of piping means the circuit can be broken down into easy-to-handle, individual components that can be easily and thoroughly sanitized in a fraction of the time that would be required with a traditional setup,” adds Mike.

Another feature is multiple safety zones along a process line, so sanitation starts in one zone as it completes production. Similarly, secondary swap-out assemblies allow for quick changes. For example, an enrober with two swap-out reservoir assemblies means fast change times, and cleaning can be done when production is up and running again.

“Their equipment reliability and exceptional sanitary design are outstanding,” says Fred.

Your hygiene could be your edge

SKU proliferation comes down to flexibility, which must include impeccable hygiene. With hygiene practices built into processes and equipment as standard, it becomes a competitive advantage, rather than a step that’s holding you back. Achieving that requires a mix of steps, including sourcing equipment that’s customized to your requirements, making use of innovative hygiene features, and rigorous team training. The result? Your facility will be free to rapidly shift between SKUs, knowing that customers, consumers, and the reputation of your business are safe.

For a more in-depth discussion on hygiene principles in manufacturing equipment, click here to download our ebook.