In May 2005, Prins UK Ltd installed an ‘intelligent’ weighing and packaging line at Penny Lane Foods Ltd, Bridgwater, Somerset, UK, which has reportedly doubled the company’s output. The investment for the company amounted to £1.3m.

The increasingly competitive food market required Penny Lane to go for a packaging system that could deliver consistent packs all through the year with near zero giveaway. Prins UK has tailored the new packaging machinery to Penny Lane’s specific requirements, including the packaging its sausage products in its own branded bag designs for different retail customers. Sales of burgers and sausages increased by over 23% during 2005.

The existing packaging line at Penny Lane was not able to meet the increase in demand for sausage products. The new packaging line processes catering packs of 5lb and 6lb with high accuracy and fills the food quantities in fully sealed printed pillow packs. The vertical form-fill machine and Apex checkweigher for high speed automated packing enables the factory to produce over five tons of sausages per hour and round the year.

“The existing packaging line at Penny Lane was not able to meet the increase in demand for sausage products.”

Penny Lane’s sausage product range includes pork and beef, pork, Lincolnshire and Cumberland, as well as sausage meat, all of which are available in jumbo (quarter-pound) to cocktail (32 per pound) formats.

The Bridgwater facility also produces burgers for the company and this part of the business received investment in the newly fitted-out factory, after production was transferred in May 2005. The burger production line is capable of producing over 250t of burgers each week.

Adrian Jones, managing director of Penny Lane, commented: “Our commitment to consistent product quality and high levels of customer service has enabled us to enjoy substantial and sustained growth on our burger business over the past three years which has given us the confidence to make the move into a dedicated factory.”

PACKING LINES FOR THE FOOD INDUSTRY

A subsidiary of Prins Holding of Holland, Prins UK Ltd merged with Ward Bekker Precision Systems in 2005. The company has been trading for over 30 years in the manufacture of Automatic Weighing Machines designed to handle most free-flowing products, especially foodstuffs. The company’s machinery is highly regarded in the health food and frozen food industries for its accuracy and simplicity of operation.

Penny Lane assigned the job to Prins UK Ltd, which specialises in the manufacturing and supply of hard-wearing, high performance weighing, filling and packing lines, and has vast experience and know-how in the food weighing and packaging industry. Prins UK also produces computer controlled multi-head weighing machines, Auger filling machines, linear weighing machines, Form, Fill, Seal (FFS) machines and large capacity vibratory feeders.

INTEGRATED MACHINERY FOR COMPLETE AUTOMATION

Prins UK installed a Multi-head MT8/16 which had been manufactured at its West Midlands factory. This was integrated with an Inno-Tech 3800 Form Fill Seal Machine and a Prins apex checkweigher with complete automation enabled by metal detectors.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

The newly designed high performance MT8/16 Multi-head weighing machine was designed to meet the high hygiene requirements that are mandatory in the food industry. The apex checkweigher with integrated metal detector ensured accuracy of the final packs and safety from the potentially harmful metal fragments. Prins UK has designed the apex checkweigher to provide extra stability, greater hygiene and simpler operation, while enabling the company to offer quick product delivery.

The system continually monitors its accuracy using trend feedback from the checkweigher and uses this information to automatically regulate up-line machinery. This ensures that packet weights are accurate and drastically reduces give-away. Real-time production information is available on a windows-based PC, which allows the operator to manage and control the production.

NEW EQUIPMENT WITH AUTOMATED LINE

The new automated packaging line at Penny Lane’s dedicated Bridgwater sausage production facility together with other processing equipment has doubled the output capability of the plant from the original 250t to over 500t of sausages per week (over 5t/hr).

The new line efficiently processes catering packs of 5lb and 6lb with accuracy filling them in fully sealed printed pillow pack. The new packaging line allows Penny Lane to offer own-branded bag designs for multiple customers.

BENEFITS

The packaging system continually monitors its accuracy using trend feedback from the checkweigher and uses that information to automatically regulate up-line machinery. The weighing accuracy provides increased packet weight accuracy and minimal giveaway. Real-time production information made available on computers makes it easy to manage and control production.

The Apex checkweigher with integrated metal detector ensures the accuracy of the final packs and protects against potentially harmful metal fragments. It is also designed to provide extra stability, greater hygiene and simpler operation, enabling Penny Lane to offer short delivery times.

“The burger production line is capable of producing over 250t of burgers each week.”

BURGER LINE

The state-of-the-art factory includes a Frigoscandia M7 spiral freezer, which is capable of freezing over 3t of burgers every hour.

New equipment includes an additional Formax F400 burger former, a further mixing and mincing line and a new customised end-of-line burger packing system.

Additional investments during 2006 (costing £1m) included a second automated packing line for sausages, two fully automatic Handtmann portioning and sausage linking systems and a new Alpina 550l bowlcutter. Also, two new articulated lorries have been added to the distribution fleet.

Adrian Jones said: “We are committed to being at the cutting edge of our industry in terms of production processes and technologies. Our new bowlcutter, for example, is the largest Alpina machine used in the UK and has enabled us to increase our batch sizes by over 80%.”