Packaging automation set to aid food manufacture growth in the wake of Covid-19

Automation is set to play an increasingly larger role in safeguarding the future of the UK’s food manufacturing industry, and the Chancellor’s recent super-deduction tax allowance on plant and machinery announcement is set to give the sector the boost it needs.

While most UK food manufacturers understood the efficiencies gained from automation, adoption was at a far slower pace than other countries. However, Covid-19 has emphasised the need to update manual manufacturing practices that will prevent many from recovering quickly once social distancing measures are lifted.

According to a recent post by the International Federation of Robots (IFR) in comparison to several countries across the world, the UK was the only country, over a 10-year period, to report a 9% decrease in productivity per person.

While coronavirus has undoubtedly put a strain on global productivity, UK manufacturers faced significant issues because of workers being unable to work in production lines where they normally stand less than 50 cm apart on 12-hour shifts.

There is an established link between automation and increased productivity, so now is the time for UK manufacturers to look at long term growth and invest in automation to support labour intensive activities.

So, why have UK food manufacturers always been so reluctant to take the automation plunge?

Here, Andrew Yates, Managing Director of Endoline Automation, discusses the reasons why the UK lagged behind its global counterparts, how automated end-of-line packaging systems today meets manufacturer demands, and how machinery can be integrated into processing and packing lines quickly to ramp up output.

Demonstrating flexibility

For some food manufacturers, a wariness to change well established manual processes, and an aversion to the risks that new technologies can bring, have created major roadblocks, preventing them from reaping the many benefits automated systems can yield.

Within food manufacturing, the variability of materials has played a major factor, particularly as many believe that uniformity plays a vital role in ensuring automation runs efficiently. To meet retail demand, manufacturers are producing an abundance of brand varieties in all shapes and sizes which can cause greater complexities, due to the variation in size, shape, quality, and weight of the product.

“Retailers are constantly vying for consumer attention, creating greater choices which are continually changing. Historically, this hasn’t always lent itself well to automation and manufacturers need assurances that the investment they make in end-of-line packaging automation is future-proof.”

Fully automated end-of-line systems today can manage an unprecedented range of case styles and sizes and have been re-engineered to handle a wide variety of case materials to suit retail specifications, from poorly scored, lightweight cases, to heavy, twin wall cases. Random systems, with integrated bar code reading technology can seal random sized cases at high speed – and be reconfigured remotely to manage new sizes and orientations as and when required.

Health & Safety

Getting health and safety right has never been more paramount. Food manufactures need to adhere to stringent measures and are being set greater guidance on the use of machinery through the Food Standard Agency’s regulatory model, facing stiffer sentences if they are non-compliant.

Tougher governance around health and safety shouldn’t be a deterrent to automation, however it is vital that manufacturers do not take a CE certified machine at face value.

“There are a number of other factors which need to be considered. Manufacturers need to understand the area the machine will be located in and assess the environment for any safety concerns such as access.”

End-of-line equipment in particular presented significant hazards. Not only do they operate automatically and, in some cases, at very high speed, but the openings, to allow the cases to be transported through the system, are often large enough to be a potential for unauthorised access.

Over the years quality, end-of-line systems have been ergonomically designed offering safer operator access and the integration of Safety Light curtains not only safeguards the machine, but eliminates the need for additional safety guarding so reducing the overall footprint. Systems can also be constructed from IP65 washdown rated stainless steel.

Eliminating unnecessary downtime

Food manufacturing sites that are highly automated operate with fewer workers, resulting in a larger opportunity for uninterrupted processing. Manufacturers are currently seeking to mitigate the risk of sending people home in virus-susceptible areas within their facilities, and automation is a big part of this solution.

The risk of downtime, as a result of machinery failure, servicing or reprogramming has always been a bottleneck in the adoption of automation.

However, automation specialists have been driving the intelligence of end-of-line systems forward for some time, and there is now a greater emphasis on linking these systems together and integrating them into a customers’ own specific data network. Consequently, food manufacturers can capture, process, and analyse big data from the factory floor remotely, and improve productivity, avoid downtime through predictive maintenance, upload new case recipes, and optimise energy use.

“Our systems built today feature an integrated, Industry 4.0 compatible HMI interface enabling engineers to easily re-programme the machine to allow for new configurations of case sizes remotely via a computer, tablet or even a mobile.”

In addition, these SMART systems can be also used to monitor the machinery and send alerts on any preventive maintenance issues and spares shortages. “End-of-line systems are very self-sufficient.”

Beyond Covid-19

Automation has always been an enabler to streamline and enhance efficiency and, as a result of the pressure created by the crisis on manual process, manufacturers should now be able to clearly identify which areas would benefit from automation.

Covid-19 has undoubtedly heightened the need for the UK to integrate automation into their packing lines. By taking the steps to automate, manufacturers will be prepared for any future crisis or shutdown, while ensuring that their output levels and efficiencies remain high.

Super-deduction tax

From April until March 31st 2023, manufacturers can qualify for a 130% capital allowance deduction. This tax break will provide 25p off company tax bills for every £1 spent on qualifying plant and machinery.

This measure – which is expected to boost UK investment by £20 billion a year – includes a super-deduction of 130% on most new plant and machinery investments, which would have ordinarily qualified for 18% relief, and a first year allowance of 50% on most new plant and machinery investments which would have ordinarily qualified for 6% relief.

Automation has always been an enabler to streamline and enhance efficiency and manufacturers should now be able to clearly identify which areas would benefit and take advantage of the 130% tax break. This will also make the UK more competitive on the global production field.

Government announces super deduction tax on machinery

From April 2021 until March 2023, businesses investing in plant and machinery will qualify for a 130% capital allowance deduction. This tax break will provide 25p off company tax bills for every £1 spent on qualifying plant and machinery.

This measure – which is expected to boost UK investment by £20 billion a year – includes a super-deduction of 130% on most new plant and machinery investments, which would have ordinarily qualified for 18% relief, and a first year allowance of 50% on most new plant and machinery investments which would have ordinarily qualified for 6% relief.

The ‘super-deduction’ which was announced by the Chancellor in the recent budget, is intended to spur business investment, aid post pandemic economic recovery and give the UK’s productivity levels a boost.

With no upper spending cap, any UK manufacturer looking to invest in machinery to increase the efficiency of their facility, and speed of their production lines should look to bring forward any spending plans.

While not applicable to second-hand assets the super-deduction tax is, according to tax experts, likely to benefit all businesses that are increasing their spend on capital equipment.

The move is set to boost the UK’s slow pace in moving to automation and robotics.

Over several years the fact that the UK has lagged behind G7 counterparts in the adoption of automation has allowed other countries to steal a march in leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and seize upon the opportunities for economic growth and jobs.

Automation has always been an enabler to streamline and enhance efficiency and manufacturers should now be able to clearly identify which areas would benefit and take advantage of the 130% tax break.

For further information on Endoline’s case erecting/packaging and sealing systems visit www.endoline-automation.com or call us on +44 (0) 1767 316422.

Endoline increases efficiency for Bird Bros by automating egg packing plant

Endoline Automation is assisting leading egg producer, Bird Bros with automating their end-of-line packing operation of 4 million eggs a week, while helping the company meet ambitious sustainability goals.

Pushing the environmental benchmark, family run business Bird Bros operate a low carbon Packing Centre. Since Endoline integrated four, 251 slimline case erectors into the egg packer’s Bedfordshire factory, the company has already reported efficiency gains of up to 10%.

Supplying multiple retailers and caterers, both locally and nationally, Bird Bros produce 30,000 boxes of eggs every week, from smaller, retail sized consumer packs to larger food service and catering boxes.

In a bid to automate the egg packing process, eliminate waste and increase overall efficiency, Bird Bros installed two new, MOBA MR-12 dual robot loading cells late last year.

The twin capabilities of the robotic systems allows for the independent processing of two individual packing lines and Endoline, who work closely with MOBA as a preferred supplier of case erectors, were called upon to install machinery which would manage the flow of formed boxes into the MOBA systems.

Endoline integrated four of its slimline, 251 case erectors into the packing lines, to work in tandem with the MOBA loading cells.

Measuring just 1 metre by 2 meters, almost half the size of traditional case erectors, the slimline nature of the 251 case erectors means that limited factory floor space has been taken up within Bird Bros’ factory.

In addition, due to the shape of the area in which the systems were due to be installed, Endoline created a layout to work within the restricted space. The company also designed the conveyor layout, installing chain transfer conveyors to make quick 90 degree turns, to reduce the overall length of the system.

The 251 case erectors are now erecting and loading four different case formats simultaneously at speeds of up to nine cases per minute. However, with greater speed capacity, Bird Bros now has the flexibility to increase their offering and take on further business if required.

The filled packs are then fed through to an Endoline 734, fully automatic random case sealer which was installed within the Bird Bros factory several years ago.

Automating the process has also enabled Bird Bros to reduce waste as Matthew Bird, the company’s Commercial Operations Director explains: “The smaller, catering packs are inherently difficult to pack. Due to the manual nature of packing eggs, waste can be an issue, however as a result of automating the lines, this has been eliminated. With increased efficiency, we have also decreased supply time so, where eggs have a shorter best before date, we have also reduced food waste for the end user.”

Significantly, by automating the entire process the eggs are not touched by human hand until they reach the consumer.

Joe Fox, Technical Projects Manager at Bird Bros who led the project commented: “We are delighted with the automated packing lines. Not only has it enabled us to increase

efficiency and redeploy employees who were previously working in monotonous, repetitive packing roles, it has also enabled us to meet sustainability goals.”

Image 1: Endoline’s 251 case erectors seamlessly integrated into two Moba MR-12 robot loading cells are now packing 4 million eggs per week within Bird Bros.

Image 2: The compact footprint of the 251 case erectors has kept floor space to a minimum.

Image 3: Bird Bros produce 30,000 boxes of eggs every week, from smaller, retail sized consumer packs to larger food service and catering boxes.

Endoline Automation answers calls for compact, automated end-of-line systems

The Covid-19 crisis has increased demand for compact, space saving end-of-line packaging equipment, with many manufacturers automating their processing lines within confined spaces.

Many manufacturers have accelerated automation plans, however, typical within UK factory sites, space is often a premium and demand for efficient, yet compact solutions is on the rise. As a leader in end-of-line machinery, Endoline Automation have seen increasing enquiries for its slimline 251 Fully Automatic Case Erector.

As the narrowest case erector on the market, Endoline re-engineered its flagship case erecting range to create the 251, which features a 40% reduction in width.

At just 1 metre wide by 2 metres long, the 251 can be easily integrated into existing end-of-line packaging lines, and offers an automated solution to replace manually intensive work.

Still developed to the high specification of all Endoline systems, with several key features, the 251 has been designed to suit a wide variety of case sizes, styles and quality.

Endoline’s unique dual opposing vacuum technology has been integrated into the 251, to enable efficient opening of cases, while eliminating any associated issues with stiff board and glue migration which could cause product wastage.

Erecting up to 10 cases per minute, the slimline case erector seals the base with either self-adhesive tape or hot melt glue, before formed cases are fed onto an automated case packer, or hand packing station.

“While space has always been a challenge for many UK manufacturers, Covid-19 has led to calls for automation which not only fits into small areas, but are compact enough to leave enough space for people to move around safely.” Comments Andrew Yates, MD of Endoline Automation.

“As the preferred case erecter supplier of Moba Systems, we originally designed the 251 to suit their egg packing systems. Creating a machine which still featured all of the high quality features and technology, which is synonymous with Endoline, at almost half the width of other case erectors.

However, demand for compact solutions has increased and the 251 offers any of our customers a case erecting solution which can be quickly integrated into existing lines.”

Endoline Automation’s slimline
251 Fully Automatic Case Erector which
is the narrowest on the market

Endoline – Contact Details

Due to current government regulations, as from 6th January 2021, all of our office staff will be working from home. Manufacturing and test remain in full operation, therefore it is business as usual at Endoline.

If you have an enquiry relating to Machinery Sales, Spares, Service & Technical Support or Purchasing please call 0044 (0)1767 316 422 and select from the updated options to speak to the relevant department.

For all other enquiries please email sales@endoline-automation.com and your enquiry will be redirected accordingly.

We will update you once again when the office staff have returned to the business.

New Management Structure

Endoline Machinery Ltd is pleased to announce the appointment of Andrew Yates as managing director.

Andrew is the third generation of the Yates family to manage the business following Ron and Alan.

Andrew is also the managing director of Endoline Robotics Ltd which, with it’s partner, Fanuc supplies robotic palletising system in the UK.

The Endoline group of companies have been manufacturing and supplying an extensive portfolio of packaging machines worldwide for nearly 40 years and has become recognised as a leader in its field.

Alan Yates, who becomes the Company chairman, said “We have had a succession plan in place for a number of years; but any succession plan must not be based upon the individuals surname but upon their integrity, their professionalism and their ability. Andrew has all those attributes in abundance and, I am confident, will take the Group to further heights.” 

Alan added “As I said to Andrew on his appointment – when the nasty stuff hits the fan; the shovel is now in your office”

Christmas Shutdown

The Endoline offices will be closed over the Christmas period. The office will close at 1230 GMT on the 24th December 2020 and re-open at 0830 GMT on Monday 4th January 2021.

For urgent enquiries during this time, e.g. machine breakdowns,  please ring +44 (0)1767 316422 and your call will be forwarded to our service department.

The latest date for spares shipment is Tuesday 22nd December 2020. Please send your spares orders to spares@endoline-automation.com or contact our spares co-ordinator on +44 (0)1767 310571.

Endoline Automation creates two new apprenticeship positions

Endoline Automation is forging ahead with apprenticeship plans, announcing the appointment of two new apprentices.

Despite the recruitment of UK apprentices across the UK declining by 50% as a result of the pandemic, the end-of-line automation specialist recognises the need to harness a new generation of talent.

Both apprentices will be supplementing their college education with hands on experience working within Endoline Automation’s Bedfordshire based factory. They will play a key role in the build of the high spec, end-of-line automated systems which are sold to manufacturers across the globe.

Currently studying electrical installation at North Herts College, 17-year-old Ethan Cannon-Tonks, will gain vital work experience with Endoline two days a week before embarking upon an Electro/Mechanical Engineering apprenticeship next year at Bedford College.

The second apprentice, Lucas Hammond, 21, has just started a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship at Bedford College, while spending four days a week on-site with Endoline Automation.

Both Ethan and Lucas will be fully qualified as an Electro/Mechanical Engineer and a Mechanical Engineer respectively, within three to four years.

“I was keen to work within construction and, when the offer of an apprenticeship with Endoline came about, I jumped at the chance.” Comments Ethan. “I am learning so much during my time in the factory, and I am amazed at the attention to detail which goes into building the systems. It is certainly challenging, but very enjoyable and I am looking forward to a long career within the sector.”

“Sitting at a desk all day wasn’t for me,” explains Lucas. “I wanted a hands-on, practical job which I am certainly getting at Endoline. We have been put straight in at the deep end which, considering the high level of engineering involved, could be quite daunting, but I am thoroughly enjoying it. The build is complex and there are so many factors involved including a high level of health and safety – I am learning all the time.

Seeing how these systems make such a difference for globally renowned food manufacturers is fantastic and I can certainly see myself having a career in electro mechanics.”

End-of-line case erectors, packers and sealers are becoming increasingly intelligent through the integration of greater digital power and computerised technology. Endoline, which has been in operation for almost 40 years, sets a benchmark within the industry for designing and building standard and customised systems which directly meets evolving demands from manufacturers in the food, beverage, FMCG and pharma industries.

Consequently, the company recognises the need to create a continual pipeline of new engineering talent.

“We have been wanting to take on new apprentices for some time now to inject some youth into our experienced production team.” Comments Richard Yates, Operations Director for Endoline Automation. “We felt that now was the time to do it, especially as, more than ever, youngsters are struggling to find positions within manufacturing.”

From left to right, Lucas Hammond, Richard Yates, Operations Director for Endoline Automation and Ethan Cannon-Tonks

 

Both Ethan and Lucas will play a key role in the build of Endoline’s high spec, automated systems which are sold to manufacturers across the globe.

 

 

Endoline Automation launches case packing technology for snacks market

A new, fully automated Case Packer system, launched by Endoline Automation, is assisting snack processors and packers automate within compact spaces.

The Case Packer, which combines case erecting, packing, and sealing technology within one system, has been engineered to pack a range of different snack products – from pillow bags to flat bottomed bags/pouches and PET bottles.

An all in one system, the Case Packer is a cost effective alternative to installing a trio of individual machines, and has been engineered in response to rising demand from snack manufacturers who are increasingly looking to automate their packing lines, to reduce footprint, and to move away from manual labour.

With precise product handling at speeds of 12 cases per minute, the Case Packer receives single products from an infeed conveyor, groups them according to the programmed pattern on a loading platform, before lowering them into a formed case below, the filled case is then automatically closed and sealed on the top and bottom with tape.

Suitable for the packing of multi-bags of crisps, pouches of dried fruits and nuts, and PET bottles of drinks – the Case Packer system can be customised to suit specific demands, and reprogrammed for the packing of different products, formats, and quantities.

Industry 4.0 compatible technology integrated within the Case Packer can capture and make data readily available for use in “live” decision making scenarios.

The compact design also makes it the ideal solution for production areas with limited available space as the full system is in one frame, rather than having three separate machines, therefore drastically reducing footprint.

The Case Packer combines Endoline’s market leading erecting and sealing systems with case packing technology all integrated into one machine. “Endoline works with globally recognised food and beverage manufacturers, so we are aware of the increasing demand for fully automated systems which will increase efficiency, while taking up a reduced amount of floor space.

 Snacks manufacturers in particular are seeking flexible systems which can handle different packaging materials.” Andrew Yates, Sales Director of Endoline Automation explains. “We have re-engineered our case erectors and sealers to meet expectations for compact, flexible systems, but by incorporating case packing we are now able to offer a complete end of line solution.”

Industry 4.0 compatible technology integrated within the Case Packer can capture and make data readily available for use in “live” decision making scenarios

Endoline’s Case Packer, which combines erecting, packing, and sealing technology, dramatically reduces factory footprint as it is built within one frame

Snack manufacturers require flexibility with their end of line systems to manage a range of packaging styles

New, compact, Case Packing system helps dairy industry pack PET bottles

A new, fully automated Case Packer system, launched by Endoline Automation, is set to assist packers of dairy products to automate within compact spaces.

The Case Packer, which combines case erecting, packing, and sealing technology within one compact system, can also help dairy packers manage the shift to PET bottles.

An all in one system, the Case Packer is a cost effective alternative to installing a trio of individual machines, and has been engineered in response to rising demand from UK manufacturers who are increasingly looking to automate their packing lines, to reduce footprint, and to move away from manual labour.

With precise product handling at speeds of 12 cases per minute, the Case Packer receives single products from an infeed conveyor, groups them according to the programmed pattern on a loading platform, before lowering them into a formed case below, the filled case is then automatically closed and sealed on the top and bottom with tape.

The use of PET is expected to significantly row within the liquid dairy sector, with UHT milk, yogurt drinks and milkshakes increasingly being supplied in PET bottles. As a result, the Case Packer has been engineered to handle a wide range of PET bottles, along with cartons, glass bottles, and flat-bottomed bags.The system can be customised to suit specific demands, and reprogrammed for the packing of different products, formats, and quantities.

Industry 4.0 compatible technology integrated within the Case Packer can capture and make data readily available for use in “live” decision making scenarios.

The compact design also makes it the ideal solution for production areas with limited available space as the full system is in one frame, rather than having three separate machines, therefore drastically reducing footprint.

The Case Packer combines Endoline’s market leading erecting and sealing systems with case packing technology all integrated into one machine. “Working with the UK’s leading food manufacturers we are aware of the increasing demand for fully automated systems which will increase efficiency, and for flexible systems which can handle different packaging materials.” Andrew Yates, Sales Director of Endoline Automation explains.

“We have re-engineered our case erectors and sealers to meet expectations for compact, flexible systems, but by incorporating case packing we are now able to offer a complete end of line solution.”

The use of PET is expected to significantly grow within the liquid dairy sector.
Image credit: PET Technologies News

Endoline’s Case Packer, which combines erecting, packing, and sealing technology, dramatically reduces factory footprint as it is built within one frame

Industry 4.0 compatible technology integrated within the Case Packer can capture and make data readily available for use in “live” decision making scenarios