Founded over 100 years ago, the Bakels group of companies manufactures and supplies specialist, high quality ingredients to the global commercial baking market. Their customers range from individual craft bakers, high street and supermarket chains to international food service chains.
In 2012, British Bakels (UK) began the first phase of a £2.5m investment to improve their production flexibility in order to accommodate their ever broadening portfolio of bakery ingredient premixes. They looked to Matcon to help provide the right solution – a more agile system to cope with small batch runs and handle recipe variety, some of which include Allergens.
Flexibility – the missing Key Ingredient::
The original powder blending facilities at British Bakels are centred on two vertical conical fixed Mixers with capacities of 2,000kg and 1,500kg, which are fed via a conveyor system from silos holding bulk flour and sugar. Other ingredients are added from big bags and sacks via mechanical conveyors. These Mixers are then directly coupled to the packing lines, which pack off bags of bakery pre-mixes for use within the bakery sector.
As their R&D programme expanded the product portfolio, British Bakels recognised that there was no spare production capacity, even with 24/7 operation. In addition, the inline production process was not flexible enough to cope with smaller batch runs. Each Mixer was taking 4 operators around 3 hours to clean, resulting in a 22% downtime for cleaning alone. This led them to Campaign Manufacture to cope with the demand, which subsequently created expensive inventory as completed batches were stored in the warehouse.
The small footprint of the Matcon equipment has meant that it fits perfectly into the existing production area, where it can run alongside the existing fixed Mixers, which have become dedicated to the high-run, high-volume product lines.
The Matcon System is used to process the small batch runs where there is a variety of recipes to be handled, and particularly where Allergens are involved.
Being based on ‘Lean’ Philosophy, the Matcon System separates out the processes of Filling, Blending and Packing by using Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) to transport material throughout the manufacturing process, which allows each procedure to take place simultaneously. No more waiting at the packing line whilst the mixer is loaded, mixed and cleaned; and no more waiting at mixing for the packing lines to complete the batch.
Closed transfer at Filling provides improved product security:
IBCs are prepared off-line in readiness for the Blending process. The 3-in-1 Sack Tip Unit provides a closed transfer of material from sack to IBC, thus improving housekeeping and reducing the risk of cross-contamination. All ingredients are sieved and passed over a permanent magnet during the filling operation giving further Quality Assurance.
No need to clean the Blender:
Blending takes place within the IBC itself. The IBC is loaded onto the Blender which tumbles it on an asymmetrical 360o axis to create a homogenous mix. Because the ingredients are blended within the IBC itself, there is no need to clean the Blender between recipes; even when using Allergens. This provides a truly flexible and agile production capability and has enabled British Bakels to really develop their gluten-free ranges.
Blending times slashed:
A further benefit of the Matcon Blending System is the reduction in the overall mixing time required for recipes that have both liquid and solid fat additions. The previous fixed Mixers took an hour for the process; as the fat needed to be whipped together with sugar before the other ingredients could be added. By using the supplementary Intensifier on the Matcon Blender, this can now be achieved in a single stage process, taking just 12 minutes per batch, significantly improving the productivity and process efficiency.
The bakery pre-mixes are packed off into bags using an existing Auger Vertical Form Fill Seal Packer. The IBCs are loaded onto a Matcon Discharge Station where they feed directly into the Packer, without the need for additional equipment to regulate the flow. The unique action of the Matcon Cone Valve within the IBC, and the operation of the Matcon Discharge Station safeguards against product segregation and helps the more ‘sticky’ recipes to flow, thereby optimising the efficiency of the packing line, ensuring that the final product is of the consistent high quality that British Bakels’ customers have come to expect.
The Rewards: the agile production system has generated an instant return on investment.
Specific benefits include:
- Flexibility and agility from reduced downtime for cleaning – now just 6% from 22% previously
- Increased capacity, enabling new product lines to be introduced to meet changing consumer tastes.
- £175,000 of cash released by significantly reducing Inventory.
- 88% equipment availability (previously 68%) – exceptional considering the ‘unique’ products on this line.
- 25% reduction in Labour Cost as fewer operators are required to manage the Matcon System.
- 55% reduction in Manufacturing time as mixes with fat content are done in a single stage mixing process.
“We can now offer an enhanced product range, better flexibility of pack sizes, along with significantly enhanced quality assurance and customer service.” Simon Dawson, Operations & Engineering Manager
British Bakels are delighted with the results to date. Managing Director, Paul Morrow commented that: “The new plant means we can produce an innovative range of pre-mixed ingredients,
many of which will be fresh to the UK.”
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