Ishida Europe has installed a flexible and space efficient high-performance solution for the accurate weighing and packing of chicken legs and drumsticks at one of the UK’s leading food companies Faccenda Foods.
A second Ishida installation at Faccenda’s new state-of-the-art poultry portioning plant in Telford, UK, is weighing chicken fillets into trays which then pass through the Ishida Vision System and Seal Tester before being automatically picked and placed into crates via the Ishida IPS system.
Both systems utilise Ishida’s pioneering screw feeder multihead weighing technology which features the familiar circular multihead weigher layout but incorporates rotating corkscrews to replace the traditionally-used radial feeders. The screws provide a powerful, controlled and fully automatic product feed to the hoppers. The weighers are combined with Ishida’s versatile Rotobatchers, with accurately weighed portions despatched to a series of packing stations on a batching table, where an operator places the product into a tray and styles it for effective presentation prior to the tray being sealed.
A key benefit of the Ishida Screwfeeder and Rotobatcher combination is the fact that the Rotobatcher sits directly beneath the weigher. This maximises the use of space and has enabled Faccenda to create a highly efficient layout for its legs and drumstick operation with the four combinations placed closely together in a square configuration. This in turn provides the greatest flexibility for the packing operation, giving four different options depending on how the birds have been graded, with two of the screwfeeder weighers incorporating 5 litre hoppers to deal with whole legs and two weighers incorporating 3 litre hoppers for the smaller drumsticks.
Target weights for the legs and drumstick packs vary from 900 g to 2.1 kg. The new Ishida systems have replaced a belt grading and packing system to deliver a significant improvement in giveaway, which has been reduced by around 30%. Overall throughput has also been improved, with each operator now able to handle around 3.5 kilos of product per minute compared to 2.8 kilos with the previous system.
For the chicken fillet packing line, the screwfeeder weigher features 2 litre hoppers with scraper gates that ensure effective product transfer of the sticky fillets. Target weights are 500 g to 765 g with the line operating at around 40 packs per minute, well within the capabilities of the weigher.
As part of Faccenda’s stringent quality control procedures, the Ishida Vision System carries out a number of checks including label presence and position, that the label and date information are correct and the bar code readable. The Seal Tester applies gentle pressure to each tray to check the integrity of the seal. The Ishida IPS system provides a high speed pick and place operation to place the sealed trays into Eurocrates.
The £35 million factory at Telford is capable of processing up to 1.5 million whole birds per week, with the process from initial hanging to sealed pack taking just nine minutes. This is the result of a highly effective planning operation – the factory knows at least three hours in advance which products it will be running – combined with the latest automated equipment. A key benefit of the Ishida systems to this efficient operation is the fast changeovers that can be implemented with pre-set targets called up at the touch of a button on the remote control units.
Faccenda’s relationship with Ishida dates back around 15 years and the installation of two multihead weighers to handle the company’s frozen chicken products.
“We have always been pleased with the performance and reliability of Ishida equipment but just as important for this project was Ishida’s ability to listen to our requirements and work with us to ensure we had the most effective solution,” explains Faccenda’s head of engineering Colin Trotman.
“As a company we very much value a partnership approach with our suppliers, working together to deliver the best results and this is the sort of two-way relationship we have enjoyed with Ishida,” adds Debbie McConnell, operations manager, portions.
While the reliability and longevity of Ishida machinery is another significant benefit, Faccenda also implements a very proactive preventative maintenance programme to ensure its equipment always performs at its optimum.
“Ishida provides great service support and back up,” says Debbie, “and they are always able to respond quickly to our requests, whether for a service call or supply of a spare part.”
Faccenda enjoys a reputation for innovation in the poultry industry. A key driver in the business is a commitment to continually seek ways to improve quality.
“Quality remains our overriding aim,” confirms Colin. “We make the best use of automation to maximise our yields but this is never at the expense of quality. The Ishida systems, with their combination of accurate weighing technology and manual manipulation for perfect presentation, are an excellent example of this.”
Established in 1962, Faccenda Foods is one of the UK’s leading food companies. The multi-award winning business – most recently named Meat Management Manufacturer of the Year in 2015 – is the only UK processor to offer a one-stop shop for poultry, supplying chicken, turkey and duck to nearly all the leading retailers.
With a reputation for innovation, Faccenda can claim a number of industry ‘firsts’ over the years including the opening of the first air-chilled poultry plant in the UK and the first to introduce the Roast in the Bag concept.
Faccenda operates a fully-integrated supply chain with feed supplied to its farms from its own mills and having full control over hatching, breeding, slaughter and transport to its six processing sites.
The £35 million investment in its Telford site, which was completed in 2014, enabled the company to consolidate all its light and dark meat chicken portioning at the site, where previously the breast cap had been transferred to its Dudley plant for deboning.
The 100,000 m2 site is over twice the area of the original factory and also includes a mezzanine floor for an advanced crate handling system. In addition, the site has room for further growth and expansion in line with Faccenda’s forward-thinking strategy. This is also evidenced by the refurbishment of its Dudley factory which now handles the company’s growing ready-to-cook range of products.