Production

Hi-line Industries produce high purity oxygen generators

The latest oxygen generators available from Hi-Line Industries Ltd are able to remove nitrogen from a compressed airline stream to provide air supplies with a range of enhanced oxygen content levels.

Ordinary atmospheric air comprises of approximately 78% nitrogen by volume, made up with 21% oxygen and the remaining balance incorporating argon, water vapour, carbon dioxide and other minor trace gases. The increasing reduction of the nitrogen content from compressed air leaves the residual gas with highly enhanced oxygen content.

The separation of gases is achieved by forcing compressed air through a separation column containing a highly selective Zeolite sieve, which adsorbs a large percentage of the nitrogen content in the air. This leaves the residual air that has passed through the separation process with appropriate enhanced levels of oxygen content. A Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) process is optimised for the twin-column process, which employs an automatic changeover to the second column of Zeolite processing when the on-line column is saturated with nitrogen. With 180°phase delay between cycles, a continuous output of highly oxygenated air is maintained.

Oxygen generators can be connected to an external buffer tank or tanks to accommodate delays or variations in production and consumption. The modular philosophy of the Hi-line oxygen generators allows the installation of multiple parallel units according to application requirements. Industry applications for the generators are varied, including automotive air conditioning tests, air cleaners for ozone generators and increasing stock densities at fish farms. A total of fifteen O2 Generator models are available covering Oxygen flows from 0.125 up to 120.18 Nm3/h, depending upon the Oxygen % levels required.

Robinsons Brewery ploughs profits back into business

Robinsons ploughs profits back into business as sixth generation sow seeds for future success and profits.

Robinsons Brewery, one of the North West’s leading independent brewers and pub operators, has reported annual results confirming its highest beer production in 15 year, dating from the year to 31 December 2014. This increase is driven largely by its Iron Maiden branded Trooper Beer, and Dizzy Blonde, which have both continued to deliver double digit growth.

Currently, Robinsons are rebuilding their brew house, a new visitor centre and implementing a companywide corporate rebrand bolstering its long-term tradition of turning their profits back into the business. These current developments are coupled with a multi-million pound investment programme, which will see almost two thirds of Robinson’s 300 strong pub estate refurbished, alongside development of their new managed house business over the next 5 years. Due to such significant and increased investment into all areas of the business, and despite an increase in sales, Robison’s annual operating profit for 2014 has reduced from £1.3m to £1m.

Despite the reduction in profit, Robinsons’ are investing in the future, optimistic that the sixth generation are facilitating new initiatives which strengthen the brand and provide adequate time and facilities to make their pubs and beers some of the best in the industry. Oliver Robinson, Managing Director (Beer Division), comments: “As I'm sure people have noticed, from initiatives such as Trooper beer with Iron Maiden, our new ale Wizard, and some of the most unique refurbishments in our history, we are evolving. Our brew house investment in 2012 continues to give us greater production flexibility and this is being used to good effect in the development of an increasingly adventurous set of seasonal ales and our series of smaller batch bespoke beers; created in collaboration with our licensees. We are now in a great position to participate in the growing craft market whether that be in cask or keg.”

Fulcrum to return to Speyside for £3.95m distillery gas pipeline project

Fulcrum, the only independent utility infrastructure provider operating across the whole of the Britain, has secured a new project to deliver seasonal gas supplies to four major Scottish distilleries, Tamdhu, Dalmunach, Cardhu and Knockando.

The company has been awarded the £3.95 million contract to install a 13-kilometre pipeline to link Scotland’s main gas network to the distilleries, which are located in Speyside. The pipeline will deliver approximately 4,700 cubic metres of gas every hour.

Awarded by a partnership of three whisky companies that will share the cost of the pipeline, Chivas Brothers, Diageo and Ian MacLeod Distillers, the connection to the gas network will help reduce the distilleries’ carbon footprints by cutting their reliance on fuel oil and ending the need for its delivery by road tankers during the summer months. As a result of the limitations of the current local gas infrastructure, the new pipeline will enable the distilleries to receive a gas supply from 1st April until 30th September each year, when domestic usage is lower.

Scheduled to begin in August 2015, the project will be delivered by a dedicated team of Fulcrum project managers and engineers. Among the challenges the team will overcome is the transportation of gas across the river Spey.

A bespoke-engineered system has been designed by Fulcrum, which will carry the pipeline across the river at Carronbridge without impacting on the local environment and dramatic scenery.

ALECTIA appoints new UK Head of Operations

ALECTIA has appointed Nick Hickman to be the Head of Operations in the UK. He succeeds Richard Crane who, after a 28-year career with PTS and ALECTIA, is retiring to a more leisurely pace of life, but will be involved in the business on a part time, project basis for the time being.

Richard was instrumental in creating a unique culture in the UK company and aligning it with the Danish operations so that the skills and competencies in each location reflect and complement each other. Nick has worked alongside Richard for the last two years strengthening the company’s position as a leading adviser and engineer to the hygienic process industry in Europe and around the world.

Commenting on his appointment, Nick Hickman said: “We all wish Richard well in his retirement and it is richly deserved as his contribution to the business cannot be understated. ALECTIA is enjoying a strong period of growth worldwide and, with our new structure and strategies, we are very well placed to continue this trajectory. I am very much looking forward to working with all our engineers on an exciting pipeline of projects both here in the UK and further afield.”

SICK safety camera is a versatile light curtain alternative

SICK UK has launched the V300 infra-red vision camera to offer a convenient and reliable Type 3 alternative to a safety guard light curtain in production and warehouse environments.

The ISO 13849-1 PLd compliant and competitively-priced SICK V300 has a resolution of 20mm and is suitable for protection of areas up to 1.5m by 1.5m, or more if synchronised as a multi-device unit.

Dr Martin Kidman, SICK UK machinery safety specialist, says, “The V300 is an incredibly useful device. It also solves the problem where a Type 2 light curtain now no longer meets the requirements for PLd applications and the change to a Type 4 light curtain is too expensive, or is clumsy and intrusive.

“The V300’s compact right-angled mount allows it to be fixed unobtrusively in the top corner of a portal or other entrance access to a guarded area, or even integrated into the steelwork frame. It doesn’t restrict access and is not vulnerable to accidental damage as a light curtain can be. In fact, the reflective tape which the light bounces off is incredibly durable!”

The SICK V300 safety camera is an infra-red based scanner with a camera chip system that detects light reflected from a strip of reflective tape mounted opposite which defines the protected field. The 110° field allows full coverage of an opening up to 1.5m by 1.5m with a field depth of about 10° either side for additional coverage, enabling optimal positioning while still offering protection without blind spots.

The flexible reflective strip is self-adhesive, so can be easily contoured to allow for discontinuities such as steps, cable runs or housings, or even curves and round shapes such as rotary table housings. The protected field no longer has to be rectilinear, as with light curtains, and could facilitate new designs of safety guarding.

Tests have shown that the reflective strip is extremely durable, with endurance trials including a loaded crate pushed over it 10,000 cycles. The strong adhesive will not detach under severe industrial conditions. The V300 camera is smart enough to operate safely by ignoring distinct scratches in the strip while detecting human body parts inserted into the field.

The 20mm resolution is sufficient to detect human intrusion to hand size and the response time of 20 milliseconds provides excellent margins for stopping machinery safely. The V300 is easy to set up once the device is positioned opposite the reflective tape, one press of the teach-in button will make the field operable.

Tetra Pak E3 launched at Fispal

In a first for the beverage carton industry, Tetra Pak is launching a filling machine that uses electron beams, not hydrogen peroxide, to sterilise packaging material.

The Tetra Pak E3, on display at the Fispal Technologia International Trade Show in São Paulo, Brazil, promises a range of benefits to customers, not least the potential to run up to 40,000 portion packages every hour. Compared with the existing Tetra Pak A3/Speed platform, Tetra Pak E3 machines will also lower operational costs, improve environmental performance and increase production flexibility.

At the heart of the new machine is the eBeam sterilisation technology that was developed by Tetra Pak in collaboration with COMET, a world leading company in high-voltage and high-vacuum technology. The technology works by focussing a controlled beam of electrons onto the surface of packaging material as it runs through the filling machine, killing any bacteria or micro-organism present.

Charles Brand, Executive Vice President, Product Management and Commercial Operations at Tetra Pak, says, “This is a very exciting development; Tetra Pak E3 not only delivers significant cost and environmental benefits to our customers, it also marks the start of a new era in the world of carton packaging. The efficiency and effectiveness of filling equipment has just taken a major step forward.”

The use of eBeam removes a long physical limitation to carton packaging speed - the hydrogen peroxide sterilization process. With eBeam, speeds of up to 40,000 portion packs per hour, or 11 packs every second, can be achieved … and market tests have shown this increased capacity can save beverage manufacturers as much as 20% in their operational costs.

The replacement of hydrogen peroxide in packaging material sterilisation also significantly improves environmental performance, making water recycling easier, lowering energy consumption and cutting waste.

Furthermore, the modular design of the Tetra Pak E3 platform offers increased production flexibility to manufacturers. By installing an eBeam kit, manufacturers can switch between pasteurised and extended shelf life production orders on the same Tetra Pak E3/CompactFlex filling machine.

The launch of Tetra Pak E3 at Fispal follows successful pilots with some of the world’s leading dairy producers, such as Rajo, the largest dairy producer in Slovakia. Between 2011 and 2014, Rajo produced 110 million packages of UHT milk in Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Slim on a Tetra Pak A3/Speed machine equipped with the new eBeam sterilisation system.

Peter Novorol’nik, Production Manager at Rajo, says, “Innovation is one of the cornerstones of Rajo’s strategy. In the domestic market, we are the market leader in every segment where we are active, but it is not all about new products. We also need to constantly drive for innovation in managing factory costs. Today we can say that the new eBeam technology could be the solution for future improvement. This innovative system offers clear savings on hydrogen peroxide consumption. To sterilise a million packages you need 300 litres of hydrogen peroxide, so the saving is considerable.”

The machine shown at Fispal is a Tetra Pak E3/Speed that will be commercially available starting from 2016.

Line improvement from Sidel achieves 18% saving in energy consumption

A line improvement programme undertaken by Sidel at Japan’s Kirin Distillery has resulted in a substantial saving in the use of electrical energy.

Sidel, the leading global provider of PET solutions for liquid packaging, carried out a modular upgrade of the production line and fitted its ECO lamps to the blow moulder on the water line at the distillery, providing a balance of cost and sustainability benefits.

The whisky distillery, which currently holds the record for being the world’s largest, is located in the town of Gotemba at the foot of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji. The site was selected because it was felt that Gotemba has a climate most like that of Scotland, the birthplace of whisky. With an average annual temperature of only 13°C, it is cooler and more humid than other parts of Japan - especially in summer.

The Kirin facility is one of ten whisky distilleries in Japan and its production water is taken directly from underground streams flowing beneath the mountain. Unlike most other whisky distilleries throughout the world, the Kirin Distillery undertakes every production process, from mashing to bottling, on-site. It covers a massive 520,000 sq m and has an annual production capacity of 12 million litres of four types of whiskies comprising one malt and three grain whiskies. Recognising the opportunities that the underground streams provide for also marketing bottled water, in 1999 Kirin installed a dedicated Sidel PET bottle blowing line and it is this line on which the modular upgrade has been completed.

With the increasing environmental consciousness of consumers, sustainable packaging and the renewability of water sources are important factors in the bottled water market. In 2013 total volume sales of bottled water in Japan grew by 4% to reach 4.4 billion litres. From 2013 to 2018, the total market for bottled water in the country is forecast to grow by a CAGR of 0.7% in value terms, with still bottled water increasing by 0.3% CAGR.

The Project Manager at the Kirin Distillery says, “Kirin selected Sidel's ECO lamps to be fitted to its existing PET water line in its continuous search for greater sustainability and cost effectiveness. The lamps have generated substantial energy savings and have also brought the benefits of improved process stability and optimised production output.”

There is a growing need within the beverage industry to balance economic performance with environmental concerns and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an integral part of the process. With the heating lamps used to produce preforms accounting for 90-95% of the electricity used by a blow moulder, Sidel ECO lamps have been developed based on a seemingly simple concept that addresses these concerns.

Since their launch in 2008, Sidel's ECO lamps have been meeting customers' requirements providing an effective solution which is easy to install. Available as a modular upgrade of beverage production lines on both the Sidel SBO Series 1 and Series 2 blowers, ECO lamps generally result in energy savings of around 15%. In some cases, installation requires no modification to either the existing oven or the blowing process. As well as reducing energy consumption, Sidel's ECO lamps are robust and have a life expectancy of five thousand hours.

Moriyasu Uchibori, lead Customer Service Manager of Sidel, Japan, says, “With electricity costs still rising globally and the growing drive to reduce CO2 emissions, producers around the world are looking to optimise productivity and minimise the total cost of ownership on all their lines. In a typical line, preform heating lamps are clearly an area with potential for greater energy efficiency. Sidel’s ECO lamps represent one way in which both energy and money can be saved.”

Industry entrepreneur receives OBE

A Nottingham businessman who arrived in England aged just eight years has collected his OBE, following recognition in the New Year’s Honours List.

Sam Sangha, who owns oriental foods wholesaler, Asiana, travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive the accolade from Prince Charles for his services to business.

Sam says: "To receive this honour is very humbling. When my family arrived from the Punjab we had very little money. I've achieved goals through a mixture of hard work, a little luck and by having some fantastic people around me.

"If you told me back when I first stepped onto British soil all those years ago that the Queen would one day be handing me an OBE, I would never have believed it. I have no idea who put me up for it. It is a real honour. It is inspiring, and I'm extremely grateful for what Nottingham has helped me achieve."

Sam came to England in World Cup year, 1966. His family settled in Wolverhampton, but marriage brought him to Nottingham. In 1978 together with two other family members he went on to start one of his first entrepreneurial projects which was a family run business within the Oriental food trade - a business which would later become the Hyperama Cash and Carry Group.

In his 40s, Sam changed career and set up Asiana, foodservice and wholesale supplier, which distributes many known and Asiana own brands, and services several key blue chip accounts. The business also has five stores selling largely oriental foods and a warehouse and distribution centre on the Blenheim industrial estate employing 65 staff. The company has successfully launched the Chinese beer brand - Beiing Gold Beer and recently introduced the aloe vera drink Vita Aloe.

Sam also runs Asiana Developments, a property company which concentrates on buying up former pubs to let to supermarkets and convenience stores. He adds, "It's been quite a journey along the way, but I can't claim all the credit for this honour. Running a successful business is all about having the right people around you - at the office and at home. Without my family, I wouldn't have been able to achieve anywhere near what I have over the last 50 years. The OBE is as much for them as it is me."

SUN Automation Group marks 120 years

SUN Automation Group, a recognised leader in the global corrugated sector, is marking 120 years of combined innovation and customer service since Langston Corporation, the company it acquired in 2001, produced its first Single Facer corrugated machine in 1895.

Charles Langston, and then his son Samuel, were the earliest pioneers of corrugated manufacturing, creating around 50 patents for ever more sophisticated machinery including the Double Facer, Variable Voltage Drives, and Preconditioning/Tensioning Devices. Langston expanded into Europe as early as 1952 and the Far East in 1961 and, after passing through various corporate owners, was finally acquired by SUN Automation in 2001.

SUN Automation’s General Manager EMEA Rob Dal Lago says, “The acquisition of Langston was an inspired move as the two companies have a very similar ethos of customer comes first, and a parallel history of innovation and product development. Many of the ex-Langston engineers are still part of the SUN Automation team, bringing to customers incredibly valuable expertise and experience, especially with older machinery that needs a little TLC to remain in operation.”

The Langston acquisition handed to SUN Automation all trademarks, patents, designs, inventory and equipment for Langston, Staley, and Greenwood machinery, further expanding the scope of support available to box makers from the company. SUN Automation has a number of Aftermarket Service Centres around the globe, strategically placed so that customers can access support quickly and cost-effectively.

Rob Dal Lago says, “SUN Automation has a worldwide reputation for product innovation and helping the industry to produce more, at higher quality, and lower cost. Our superb Aftersales operation, in contrast, has been flying somewhat under the radar. SUN Automation engineers are often called upon to repair or enhance machinery that can be 20, 30, or even 40 years old – and their actions can literally save a plant from going under where the owner simply doesn’t have the funds to invest in new equipment. That’s something to be really proud of – and something that Charles and Samuel Langston would no doubt have fully endorsed.”

Positive mood at Cereals 2015 as farmers look to the future

Despite the squeeze on arable incomes caused by low grain prices and relatively high input prices, there was a positive mood at Cereals 2015 among farmers and exhibitors.

Many of the 24,500 visitors attending the event took full advantage of the expert technical and financial advice on offer from over 500 exhibitors to help drive their businesses forward. Jon Day, events director, says, “Technical and machinery exhibitors were kept busy by growers keen to explore improved cultivations and soil health, better drilling techniques, integrated weed management strategies and impressive advances in precision farming.

“The business area was popular with growers wanting to maintain a grip on budgets and production costs. All this reflected the sense of determination among visitors to ride out current problems. The feedback we’ve had from visitors and exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive. Cereals continues to build on its position as the leading UK arable technical event and a key date for forward-looking arable growers.”

DEFRA minister George Eustice opened the event, which took place at Boothby Graffoe. He emphasised the government’s manifesto commitment to a 25-year food and farming strategy, which he hoped would be in place by the end of 2015. Key areas included developing agricultural technology and competitiveness, opening new export markets and encouraging more young people into the sector. He said, “We need to change perceptions – farming is vibrant and dynamic, with lots of new technology."

Cereals’ reputation as a leading conference venue was reinforced by a revamped programme that included several condensed seminars on some of the hottest topics in the arable sector. Many of the sessions were standing room only.

All the familiar Cereals features returned, including hundreds of crops plots to illustrate the wealth of agronomic developments on show. Other specialist areas included machinery, working demonstrations, post-harvest technology, business area, potatoes, renewables, careers and education and the Syngenta Sprays and Sprayers arena, which showcased the latest spraying technology and equipment.

Cereals 2016 will be held on 15th and 16th June at Chrishall Grange, near Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

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