High-Changeover Salads and Noodles Need Washdown-Ready Inspection Automation

Bakkavor Salads swaps aging inspection system for a fully IP69K rated checkweigher and metal detector system, designed for high care, harsh washdown environments.

Loma’s RUN-WET system in situ at Bakkavor, running salads, noodles, and stir fry mixes.
Loma’s RUN-WET system in situ at Bakkavor, running salads, noodles, and stir fry mixes.

Bakkavor Group is a leading worldwide provider in the fresh prepared food (FPF) market, with operations in the UK, U.S. and China, specializing in developing private label products for top global grocery retailers and well-known international foodservice operators. Their portfolio of 2,000 products is based on four categories: ready meals salads, desserts, pizza and bread. As the vast majority of Bakkavor’s products have short shelf lives, a complex ‘just in time’ operating model exists, with factories operating 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, working to tight deadlines receiving orders on the day, for the day.

Bakkavor’s salad sector, Bakkavor Salads, consists of several UK sites. Its Bourne, Lincolnshire site, which specializes in making prepared fruit, leafy salads, and stir fry mixes, had been using an aging inspection system on a line that was handling microwavable noodles in packs. With up to 10 different noodle products being presented to the metal detector daily, there was a need to clean down the equipment after every product change, much due to the presence of strong flavors and multiple sauces, and to avoid the potential for allergen/non allergen cross contamination. Plus, as the noodles are sticky, they were frequently getting stuck in the metal detector’s integrated conveyor belt, which not only produced belt tracking issues, it also created hygiene problems. The downtime for changeovers and cleaning was not only having a significant impact on production, it also had cost implications.

Given these challenges, Bakkavor tapped Loma Systems to implement a new metal detector and checkweigher combination system designed to be easier and quicker to clean. The CW3 RUN-WET® Combo System was installed, providing Bakkavor with extensive production efficiencies, including an estimated daily saving of two hours production time and an uplift in their noodle pack rate, due to easy cleaning and no drying time despite multiple product changeovers. Offering a host of new features and smart design details that are in keeping with leading hygienic principles, there are no debris accumulation points, plus the open design of the conveyor belt and fully accessible cable system enables easy clean down and debris extraction.

We do around 10 product changeovers a day, which include a range of noodles and sauces,” said Michael McRanor, engineering project manager at Bakkavor Bourne Salads. “The cleaning in between changeovers is harsh, involving a high pressure washdown designed to remove all contaminants from the machine. The RUN-WET system was built for exactly this type of environment.

Everything on the machine is made to be solid and hygienic," he adds. "Even the light stack is made in a way that is hygienic and easy to clean. Another significant plus is the RFID, which is an excellent benefit to us for traceability and operator accountability. It’s the key for the future of all food factories by minimizing machine contact and safe access control. It really is a superb piece of kit." -PW

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