INVESTING IN NEW EQUIPMENT – HOW CAN YOU CALCULATE ROI?

INVESTING IN NEW EQUIPMENT – HOW CAN YOU CALCULATE ROI?

A tool to calculate the financial returns possible when you invest in new equipment for your facility.

Chocolate and bar manufacturing equipment is not one-size-fits-all. PTL’s philosophy is to work with our clients’ individual needs to create innovative equipment solutions.

We believe it’s important to outfit your facility with equipment that has the flexibility to adapt to your specific needs. Not only that, but in our highly competitive industry, it’s essential to be using equipment that will help you gain an edge, while adhering to food safety regulations.

Achieving this takes money, and justifying investment in our industry of tight margins requires building a business case. You need to prove to your stakeholders the dollar value of investing in that new machinery, as well as provide a detailed justification of why the investment will ultimately benefit your business and its profitability.

To help, PTL have developed a new calculator to determine the financial value you can expect to achieve when investing in new equipment. We’ve also created an accompanying guide to help you understand not only the return on investment, but how to use the results to justify outlaying for new equipment and machinery.

The guide covers four key areas:

1. The benefits of investing in new equipment or upgrades – from hygiene and safety to maximizing production and efficiency, there are manifold benefits to ensuring your facility is equipped with the latest technology.

2. Calculating the return on investment (ROI) – the ROI calculator has been built using industry studies and our own extensive experience with our existing customer base. The guide outlines how to use the calculator, so that you can estimate how many months it would take to recoup the investment through the potential increase in bar production and profit and possible reduction in labor costs.

3. Making smart equipment investment decisions – it’s key to outfit your food manufacturing facility with customized solutions that meet individual business needs as well as give your company the competitive edge needed to stay relevant in a constantly evolving industry.

4. Customized chocolate and bar machinery – a look at how PTL uses a collaborative approach to understand your business and equipment needs. From your first contact with us, we make sure you’re an integral part of the process.

Remaining competitive in the industry is not about running the cheapest operation possible. As a chocolate or bar manufacturer, maintaining a good reputation is critical, and if your products have been created using innovative machinery and equipment, that has a big impact on your ROI.

This guide and our accompanying ROI calculator provide a very clear picture of the value you can typically expect when investing in new and upgraded equipment.

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BAR LINE WASTE REDUCTION – THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SHORTCUTS

BAR LINE WASTE REDUCTION – THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS SHORTCUTS

PTL’s bar line equipment is designed to combat the margin eroding impact of waste in the chocolate and bar manufacturing process.

Waste. It’s something that chocolate and bar manufacturers are driven to avoid. Recent research estimated that globally, food manufacturing collectively face billions in costs when it comes to waste. Not only does reducing waste boost profits, but it’s an environmentally sustainable approach as well.

One of the biggest root causes of waste is human error, usually the result of a lack of standardised procedures and training. Failing to stick to the formula is one of the main reasons food manufacturers produce more waste than they should, and it comes down to a simple concept: there’s no such thing as taking shortcuts when producing something like granola bars. For example, if the product going into the bar line isn’t of the correct consistency – because the formula hasn’t been stuck to – then the outcome will be one of total waste. Not only will the product not be able to be sold, but the failure means wasted raw materials and energy.

Equipment cleanliness is another risk factor for waste. Food manufacturers can’t take shortcuts here either, because what gets wasted is time. With particularly sticky ingredients, production may need to be halted regularly to allow for cleaning, meaning it’s important to be using equipment that’s designed to handle these sticky products, and at the same time be easy and fast to clean.

Waste is maximised in chocolate and bar manufacturing when people bend the rules and try to take shortcuts. This is basic human nature, but when it comes to minimising waste in food production, deviating from formulation or not following cleanliness procedures to the letter are the two main contributors. And in the end, it’s not a shortcut after all, because the time it takes to correct mistakes is another form of waste.

Every food manufacturer needs to have comprehensive guidelines for their employees to follow during the bar manufacturing process. These guidelines are the key factor in reducing waste: if they don’t get it right, there’ll be an increase in waste. There are specifications for every recipe and if they’re not stuck to, what’s being produced can’t be sold. The ingredients have been wasted, energy has been wasted, and time has been wasted. There are no profits to show for it, and if a manufacturer produces excessive waste, it could become common knowledge in the industry and their reputation will be damaged.

Having the right equipment in place is another essential for minimising waste. The design should be such that it takes waste into account, and functions to produce as little of it as possible.

PTL’s bar line machinery includes features that reduce and even eliminate waste that is often typical in the bar manufacturing process, such as eliminating the side trim from bars, if they don’t need it. It’s true that most manufacturers do need to trim the bars so they are all of a standard size and have straight edges, but what’s cut from the bars can be significantly reduced so waste is minimised, and on PTL equipment, this design feature is known as slab-tracking.

If a slab is running with no side trim (a protein bar for example) slab tracking ensures that the outside bars are the correct width/weight, eliminating waste.

If a slab is running with side trim (nut, granola bar for example) accurate slab tracking allows the side trim to be kept to a minimum, reducing waste. The guillotines on our bar line machinery also ensures that each bar is of a standard length and weight

When the bar needs to be enrobed in chocolate or some other coating, the changeover from one type or colour – say from dark chocolate to white – can be done very quickly. And the enrobing product can be conserved and used again, if the recipe allows for it.

A main feature of PTL’s bar line equipment is the hygienic design. They’re easier to clean due to their flexibility, wash-down capability and removable components. Because the cleaning process is so fast, this reduces downtime and increases productivity.

The more a manufacturer can reduce waste the better their margins. There are also important environmental considerations that drive waste reduction, and PTL’s equipment takes this into account. We focus on waste reduction capabilities and on gaining efficiencies, and we work with our customers individually to tailor our equipment design for their specific production and waste reduction needs.

If you’d like to find out more about how our equipment can reduce or even eliminate waste in your operation, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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WHAT DOES ‘INDUSTRY 4.0’ MEAN FOR CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURERS?

WHAT DOES ‘INDUSTRY 4.0’ MEAN FOR CHOCOLATE MANUFACTURERS?

For anyone with experience in the chocolate and bar manufacturing industry, they would have seen many different technologies and trends come and go. Industry 4.0 is another looming trend – but what is it and what does it mean for you?

Industry 4.0’ (i.e. the fourth industrial revolution) is a catch-all phrase for the next generation of manufacturing. It’s where the power of the internet, sensors and software can be combined to improve manufacturing operations. But what is it and how does it apply to chocolate and bar manufacturing?

Most of the building blocks for this industry movement exist today, particularly within large, established manufacturers. The energy and excitement of the 4.0 term comes from the combination of these elements in new ways. It’s useful to think of industry 4.0 encompassing three linked elements:

  1. Physical matter or energy: e.g. the chocolate and component ingredients, the manufacturing equipment, the energy required to drive them etc.
  2. Sensors and display: the technology that gathers information (e.g. machine speed, product temperature) and displays it (via mobile devices or other interfaces).
  3. Analytics and algorithms: software that takes all the information and has the intelligence to make decisions about it, or guide humans to make decisions.

In practical terms applications for chocolate and bar manufacturers include:

  • Replacing humans in the quality control process, e.g. machine detection of defects in the shape or size of a bar product, or debris in a chocolate product. Technology with the right level of sensitivity and accuracy will do a far better job at repetitive task like these than a human operator. Those people can then be freed up to focus on higher value tasks.
  • Increasing speed of detecting sanitation issues. Technology is becoming available that will enable almost instant detection of sanitation issues with food manufacturing equipment. Currently, this process can be time consuming, as it involves a person taking a swab and sending it to a lab for analysis.
  • Augmented and virtual reality could be applied in many areas of the chocolate manufacturing process, but training is a logical one. Instead of having to find and understand operating manuals, a new staffer could use AR enabled mobile device (e.g. a tablet) to simply point it at a machine and understand how it operates and what they need to do to complete their task.
  • Operators could be empowered with much richer data than the traditional fixed terminal on manufacturing equipment. A mobile device linked with sensors could tell them whether there was a product temperature issue with a particular batch of bars or monitor machine speed for a chocolate bar line against their standard benchmarks.

How quickly will these new ideas come into the chocolate and bar manufacturing sector? A useful way for thinking about new waves of technology is a model from IT advisers the Gartner Group. Their hype cycle suggests technologies typically come into an industry with much hype and publicity, but are used relatively sparingly at first. Over time, businesses see their value and slowly start integrating them into normal practice.

Take the humble microwave oven. Microwaves went from scary and expensive technology to something many households desired, as more consumer-oriented manufacturers made products that were simpler and cheaper. A mass market of people started to understand that this invention delivered a faster, easier way of cooking food. According to Wikipedia, microwave sales increased from 40,000 per annum in 1970 to 1 million a year by 1975. Now market penetration is estimated to be 90% and you can buy one at the supermarket with your bread and milk.

On a much broader scale, industry 4.0 has to go through the same cycle for chocolate manufacturers. According to Industry Today magazine, only 13 percent of manufacturers are implementing industry 4.0-type approaches such as using the internet of things or smart manufacturing techniques. It has to go from hard to understand and expensive, to something that can be integrated into daily operations.

Chocolate manufacturers want product that is of good quality, is the right size and shape and is safe to eat. And they want to achieve these outcomes as efficiently as possible. How industry 4.0 technologies can help achieve these outcomes is what counts and varies widely depending on the particular manufacturer.

A tailored approach to applying 4.0 is key. Large, mature manufacturers and co-packers will be looking at how to achieve efficiencies while maintaining quality within the scope of their existing operations. Start-up food manufacturing businesses will look at applying at broader mix of 4.0 technologies to try and disrupt the status quo.

PTL’s approach to industry 4.0 is what we call purposeful innovation. We actively monitor developments with new technologies, and combinations of technologies, and where they could fit into our customer’s requirements. Engaging with customers around their specific needs and applying design thinking is key, as tailored solutions are critical to realising a return on investment in these types of technologies. It’s easy to waste investment if new technology isn’t tightly aligned to manufacturing process.

We also have some world class partners like Rockwell Automation that are operating at the sharp end with AR/VR, diagnostic technologies and so on. With their size, resource and reputation, they can provide technology that is proven and cost-effective.

In a technology sense, the complexity is not necessarily in implementing some of these technologies but understanding how they are best applied in your specific situation. PTL’s deep knowledge and experience in the chocolate and bar manufacturing industry is where we can add real value in helping you understand how to apply the exciting suite of industry 4.0 technologies to your manufacturing process.

Interested in learning more about trends in chocolate manufacturing? Check out the free resources we have on offer.

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MELTERS FOR CHOCOLATE PROCESSING

MELTERS FOR CHOCOLATE PROCESSING

HOW THE FLEXIBILITY OF YOUR MELTERS CAN INCREASE EFFICIENCY AND MAXIMISE PRODUCTION.

Chocolate and bar manufacturers tell us they need flexibility in their food production equipment, without compromising efficiency levels or hygiene standards. For melters specifically they want to enable efficient changeovers to an allergen standard; ease of maintenance and operation; as small a footprint as possible; and the ability to integrate with existing equipment and lines.

In response we’ve designed our melters to offer this uncompromised flexibility. They’re designed to continuously melt product corresponding to down-stream production rates, and they integrate not just with barline machinery, but with any process. What this means is they’re adaptable for all kinds of food production facilities such as chocolate manufacturers, bakeries and ice cream manufacturers.

We’ve created several unique features for our melters, all aimed at finding efficiency gains:

  • Flexibility and wash-down capability – removable components make them easier to clean, and quicker changeover times
  • Easily enabling users to go from melting one product to another
  • Maximising production
  • Smaller, reducing the footprint within the facility. Not only that, but their size means they’re more mobile, and can be moved around on casters.
  • Energy efficient, because you’re not keeping a large tank continually at temperature

When Pittsburgh, PA based TruFood Mfg needed a new melter, PTL’s solution was the only option that ticked all the boxes. Read the case study.

Accessibility is key with our melters; they’re easily disassembled, making cleaning faster and more efficient. Within the food manufacturing industry, achieving speedy wash-down rates while maintaining a high level of sanitation is a significant benefit.

The melters are highly flexible, able to melt multiple coatings – chocolate, compound, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, dairy butter and fats – and they’re also portable, and next to the use point rather than having to pump products across a wide area through a plant.

What this means is that (depending on the production facility) individual units aren’t necessary for different products. For example, if four different products were being run, they can be processed using one melter instead of four. If ten are being processed, only three melters might be needed, which is a huge efficiency gain.

PTL melters also make integration easier. During the design stage, it’s ensured that the melters can be connected to other PTL equipment, meaning they can work with other machines, or indeed, with an entire line. And the user interface is easier; for example, a melter might be positioned next to an enrober or a sieve system, and the operator might be on the melter HMI screen. That screen can also be used to access the enrober or the sieve system, and vice versa.

This integration is built into PTL equipment from the outset, but it’s also possible – depending on the equipment – for PTL melters to integrate with non-PTL systems.

In addition to their flexibility, PTL melters also offer these advantages:

  • Installation – they’re simple and easy to install. They only require mains power, so as soon as they arrive they can be literally plugged in and they’re ready to operate. They’re portable, so they’re easily moved around a facility.
  • Water – the melters can be manufactured with a small make-up tank permanently plumbed in, providing an on-board hot water system.
  • Maintenance – everything’s accessible. There’s no need for tools to perform daily maintenance like wash-downs; they’re built with T-handles, latches etc.
  • Production efficiency – size to speed ratio, these melters reduce the footprint of products are currently being melted while increasing the melt rate. Production is maximised with shorter runs, allowing users to go from melting one product to another.
  • Lower training requirement – they’re user-friendly, simple and easy to understand, reducing the amount of time operators need to get to grips with the equipment.

PTL melters mean a significant reduction in cleaning times and changeovers while increasing production rates. Their flexibility means that they can be customised to meet different requirements. Something out of the box might meet most of your production needs, but PTL melters ensure maximum efficiency and production output.

Find out more about our melters, and if you have any questions, get in touch and we’ll arrange a time for a chat.     

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WHY HYGIENIC DESIGN OF FOOD MANUFACTURING EQUIPMENT IS CRITICAL

WHY HYGIENIC DESIGN OF FOOD MANUFACTURING EQUIPMENT IS CRITICAL

When it comes to the production and manufacture of food, hygiene is an over-arching, all-important element. And yet, there are still food manufacturers who fail to fully integrate hygienic design into their production facilities. Food Engineering Magazine recently published an article that emphasises the proactive approach that food manufacturers need to take when it comes to equipment design.

“Auditors are now looking for written programs, specifications outlining adequacy for food contact, cleanability and compatibility of materials used in food facilities,” says NSF International’s Michael Govro, technical scheme manager of supply chain food safety certifications. “The repercussions of not following standards is you’ll have an illness, or an outbreak of some sort, that would be detrimental to the brand itself, as well as to the food category.”

In itself hygiene is not a competitive advantage; it is a ‘hygiene factor’, something you simply must display to compete effectively. Getting this right provides chocolate and snack bar manufacturers with the platform to dominate their markets.

Globally, the human race is also becoming more susceptible to allergens, making hygienic food production critical. Hygiene therefore needs to be a central feature of a facility’s design, and something that’s kept in mind from the very beginning of the project. The same applies if a production line is being set up in an existing building; for example, it’s important that floors in the manufacturing room are sloped for drainage purposes.

When it comes to understanding the concept of hygiene as it relates to the production and manufacture of food, the World Health Organisation offers the most succinct definition:

“Food hygiene are the conditions and measures necessary to ensure the safety of food from production to consumption. Food can become contaminated at any point during processing, storage, distribution, transportation and preparation. Lack of adequate food hygiene can lead to foodborne diseases and death of the consumer.”

The consequences are worth keeping in mind. The cost to a business’s reputation and bottom line is serious enough, but the potential loss of life is infinitely worse.

Since the introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), businesses have been under increasing pressure to get their production processes right, and to adopt a preventative rather than a responsive approach to hygiene. 

It’s with this proactive approach firmly front-of-mind that we’ve put together a new eBook: The Hygiene Factor. It’s an introduction to applying hygienic design principles to bar manufacturing equipment, and it covers these key areas:

  1. The factors driving change – there’s been growing awareness over the last decade of the risks of foodborne diseases, and a significant regulatory response has followed.
  2. The shift from response to prevention – investing in preventative action is a worthwhile investment, especially since there’s greater involvement from regulatory and advisory bodies in the area of hygienic processing.
  3. What constitutes hygienic equipment design – the ten principles for food manufacturing equipment.
  4. The PTL way – our equipment is designed to several international standards; our focus goes beyond the equipment itself, as sanitation and hygiene are primary factors for us.

For quality food manufacturers, hygiene is a key element that trickles down all the way through the manufacturing process.

Whether you’re revamping an old facility or building a new one, hygiene is a paramount consideration. Breakdowns in hygiene standards are a sure-fire way of damaging your brand name and possibly generating costly legal issues. From a building concept that prevents the entry of bacteria, to the facility layout, to the design and installation of equipment, hygiene must be a key factor and one that runs through all aspects of food production.

DOWNLOAD THE EBOOK

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ROCKWELL FEATURES PTL IN GLOBAL PROMOTIONS

ROCKWELL FEATURES PTL IN GLOBAL PROMOTIONS

Rockwell Automation is a provider of industrial automation and information technology. Based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Rockwell’s products include control systems, industrial control components, information software, motor control devices, sensing devices, network technology, safety technology, and industrial security.

PTL’s melters use smart machine technologies from Rockwell Automation, and a new case study on the Rockwell global website features our melters in detail, with emphasis on:

  • Ease of use
  • Smart machine technology
  • Safety, hygiene and flexibility

“The PTL melters are smart machines with I/O Link Technology and control devices connected on the EtherNet/IP network,” says Rockwell’s Industry Manager, Prasad Nory. “This makes troubleshooting very easy with advanced diagnostics available in real time both locally and remotely.”

“PTL work predominantly in export markets, so partnering with a global company that has a strong knowledge and presence in the local market is critical to delivering innovative, functional machinery,” says PTL’s Managing Director, Nick Halliday. “Partnering with Rockwell as an OEM partner has provided PTL with expertise and technical support, as well as market exposure that offers real value to both PTL and the customer. Support is aligned with in-market need and as technology grows and evolves, PTL are able to continue to evolve their unique offering of innovative and collaboratively designed machinery.”

Learn more about PTL’s melters, including how the flexibility of your melter can increase efficiency and maximise production.

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