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Whetting your appetite for knowledge

10 October 2016

The annual Appetite for Engineering event will be taking place this year on 19th October at the Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham. Find out more...

Appetite for Engineering is a one-day forum designed to provide engineering professionals within the food processing industry an opportunity to network and gain greater insight into the latest issues that are affecting their industry today, and which may have an effect on their profits tomorrow. The event also provides an opportunity to find out more about the latest technology innovations that can help increase productivity, efficiency and safety.

The event is a must for those involved in a food engineering role who are looking to solve problems and increase efficiencies within their business.

In the current environment, it is more important than ever to grab the opportunity to come together to discuss issues currently affecting the sector and to consider the effects that Brexit, Industry 4.0, and greater digitisation of the processing plant may have in the future. It is also an opportunity to find out how others in the industry, who are tackling these issues and finding successful solutions.

The event is being jointly chaired by Christopher Buxton, director and CEO of the British Fluid Power Association and Peter Whitfield, who launched the Appetite for Engineering event in November 2007. Over the years Peter has developed a strong community of companies who believe that, in driving engineering into the food industry, they are creating reliable, consistent and more profitable food and beverage products. In 2012 Peter received the PPMA Group Award for Outstanding Achievement – primarily for his contribution to industry, and particularly for his commitment to addressing the engineering skills issues.

Chris is also an industry stalwart and is well known for his boundless energy and commitment to the cause of British industry. Since joining British Fluid Power Association in 2013 Chris has introduced a complete strategic review of the business and a change programme which is focussed upon delivering greater added value to the member companies. As part of that process he instigated the creation of the UK Motion Control Alliance, an initiative designed to recognise UK industry trends towards automation and integrated motion control solution.

As in previous years, the Appetite for Engineering conference programme is dominated by those who really know what it is like to work in the food industry, and who suffer the same trials and tribulations and face the same day-to-day issues and demands – to achieve more with less!

Plant maintenance
Keith Gorf, engineering manager at S.A. Brains, for example, will be talking about the fundamental requirements that need to be in place when considering a plant maintenance approach. “The development of any system must take into account the tasks that need to be carried out and the resources available, thereby ensuring that both product and safety standards are met,” he said. In his presentation at 10.00am he will discuss the basic requirements that are needed to build and manage a good mixture of reactive and proactive activities.

Straight after the coffee break, at 11.30, Jon Bremner, business improvement co-ordinator at Greencore, will be focussing on the company’s experiences with multi-spectrum metal detectors.

With the intention of improving detection levels to world-class and reducing user-interface complexity, Greencore Prepared Meals in Warrington set out to replace its entire fleet of metal detectors with multi-spectrum twin-head systems. Since the project has been completed the company has seen a dramatically increased level of detection for metal contamination, which has far exceeded the requirements of the retailers’ codes-of-practice. “With unique functionality, including electronic event logs, on-screen step-by-step user prompts and remote access, we believe we have made a great investment for serving our customers today and long into the future,” said Jon. Find out more about Greencore’s journey on the day.

Straight after John’s presentation Professor John Gray of the University of Manchester will introduce us to the PickNPack concept, a flexible robotic system for automated adaptive packaging. The University has been involved in this EU research and innovation project which aims to provide the food industry with the benefits of automation – cost reduction, greater hygiene and more efficient use of resources – combined with the ability to adapt to the product and batch size at hand.

PickNPack will offer the food industry a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing marketplace, where customers are demanding more quality, more choice and more safety at a lower price.

The project has sought to develop three types of modules that can cope with the typical variability of food products and the requirements of the sector regarding hygiene, economics and adaptability. Three modules work closely together. A sensing module assesses the quality of individual or small batch products before or after packaging, a vision-controlled robotic handling module picks up and separates products from a harvest bin or transport system and places it in the right position in a package, while an adaptive packaging module is able to accommodate various types of packaging with flexibility in terms of package shape, size, product environment, sealing and printing.

These modules connect to a multipoint framework for flexible integration into a production line that optimally makes use of the capabilities of the modules. The modules have been combined with a user-friendly interface and all modules are equipped with automated cleaning systems to ensure hygiene.

All available information from the production chain and the information produced by the sensors in the system is combined, stored and made available to the different modules and both upstream and downstream in the chain. With added intelligence this will lead to maximum performance in quality, reducing change over time, reducing time for reprogramming, adaption to operators, reducing waste of food and packaging material and stock. Human intervention will be reduced to a minimum.

After lunch Craig Leadley, new technologies specialist at Campden BRI will provide an overview of emerging preservation technologies. This not to be missed presentation will explain how technology can help food processors to make more with less, while extending product shelf life and maintaining quality. Delegates will be told about new ways that they could differentiate their product offerings in an ever more complex and competitive market through the use of these emerging preservation technologies.

Following Craig’s presentation Jon Foss, site services manager from Moy Park will be talking about how the company has handled its R22 relacement issues and how the company has turned this into a positive.

Better people
The shortage of skilled engineers in the food sector is an important issue as these are the very people that the industry needs to help implement the brave new world of smart factories and more connected enterprises. Jake Madgwick, shift manager and optimisation coach at Twinings, will be offering his thoughts about how to attract engineering talent in a world where the food industry is being measured up by students against the ‘more exciting’ and financially rewarding opportunities on offer from business and finance. “There is an on-going challenge to attract new engineering talent to help bridge the skills gap,” said Jake. He will be sharing his views on the subject and will outline how Twinings have attracted talent into the company.
Grant Jamieson, PPMA Chairman will also be speaking during this section of the event, talking about how industry might fill the leadership vacuum. “There is a significant leadership vacuum within the industry which must be addressed to avoid even more significant challenges in the future,” he said. He believes it is necessary to look outside the industry for the solution. Find out more about this at the event.

Louise Codling, head of business delivery at the The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink will be the final speaker of the day. She will be broaching the subject of the Apprenticeship Levy. The world of apprenticeships and funding is changing and at the heart of these reforms sits the new Apprenticeship levy. “It is vital that Levy paying businesses understand the changes and implications for their organisations and that non-levy companies are also affected by it,” she said. In her presentation, Louise will try to bust some of the myths surrounding the Levy and will supply delegates with practical information on what it is, how it will work and the reforms that are underpinning it. “It is imporant to focus on the on the positives,” she said. “Businesses must learn to love the Levy.” Will her aguments be convincing? You will need to register to attend this year’s Appetite for Engineering to find out. We look forward to seeing you there! 
For the full programme go to:

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