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SEEPEX’s partnership with Natures Way Foods began back in 2014 as we supported the company on its journey to becoming one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of fresh convenience food.
The preparation of fresh, convenience food – including ready-to-eat fruit and salad products for major supermarkets – generated waste that had to be removed from high-care production areas in an automated enclosed hygienic system.
Since initially supplying just a single progressive cavity (PC) pump, SEEPEX has gone on to provide this fresh convenience food processor with further customized pumping, macerating and chopping solutions.
The food processor, Natures Way Foods, formerly used two methods for handling their waste which turned out to be inefficient.
The first was a combination of a progressive cavity pump with an open hopper and a low-speed twin-shaft grinder to chop the waste. This caused process delays and downtimes. Production was intermittent since the waste not being removed due to bridging above the grinder and backing up in the hopper.
The second method involved the manual handling of waste – using tote bins – from a high-care production area to a low-risk area located outside. This is labour-intensive not only in terms of manual movement but also requires dedicated cleaning of the tote bins prior to re-entering the high-care area to prevent potential cross-contamination. The waste handled included pineapple skins, melon, grape vines and mango stones, the latter being particularly challenging due to the size of the stones at 4-7 cm in length. The ability to handle the stones and optimize the design was verified on the basis of in-house tests using product supplied by the customer.
SEEPEX designed, installed and commissioned two customized integrated pumping and macerating systems to resolve their existing waste handling issues and to pump the waste over 100m from a high-care production facility to a low-risk disposal area.
To address the bridging and backing-up problems, a new single multi-purpose system was supplied which included two pumps with customized open hoppers and auger feed screws with integrated cutting blades to chop the waste prior to being pumped.
To overcome the challenge of the mango stones, a small reception hopper with an auger feed screw was designed to receive varied waste tipped by the tote bins. This was then conveyed into a macerating unit which reduced the particle size before being discharged into an open hopper pump, eliminating the need for manual handling between high-care and low-risk areas and avoiding cross-contamination and associated cleaning costs. Pump operation was automated using a control system linked to reception hopper level. Additional safety features included dry running and protection against overpressure.
The automated waste handling solutions from SEEPEX have enabled Natures Way Foods to hygienically, safely and cost-effectively dispose of its waste at both its vegetable and fruit factory and its coleslaw and potato salad processing factory.
These solutions streamlined waste handling at both sites, eliminating the intermittent production and manual handling, and reducing health and safety risks to operatives from slipping due to spillages.
The product was pumped through pipework enabling the hygienic transfer of waste, regardless of particle size, from high-care to low-risk areas. This reduced the risk of cross-contamination and compliance failure caused by any new product becoming contaminated with the old.
The integrated maceration and pumping system also produces a lower volume of waste for disposal while preserving the highest residual value of by-products, e.g., for biogas production.
“When we began developing our new Drayton manufacturing unit, to handle the coleslaw and potato salad arm of our business, we needed a reliable partner to engineer a customized automated waste handling system, capable of processing both organic and non-organic waste streams. SEEPEX’s solution has delivered on its promises to reduce costs, reduce labour, keep our manufacturing area clean, tidy and compliant, and keep our operatives safe.”
Andy Mays, Engineering Manager, Natures Way Foods