Taking the Holistic Approach to Improvement and Change at AAK

Holistic - characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. 

Various factors drive food companies to change and improve. Production capacity and speed may need to increase or improvements made to increase product yield or reduce waste. It’s critical to take a comprehensive view of the entire business when dealing with a requirement to change thus maximising return on investment and value.

New technologies have the ability to dramatically change a part of the production process but to maximise value the whole system must be considered. For example, a new filling machine which fills at 100upm is installed to increase production speed. If the process that sits in front of filling can only supply to the filling machine at 70 UPM, value is not being maximised, hence the necessity to consider the entire process.

An example of a revolutionary technology is Steam Infusion; it can more than double output of soups and sauces in a given time and create higher quality products. In isolation its production rates are incredible but it takes a holistic approach to truly maximise its value.

AAK Foods decided to use Steam Infusion at their site in Runcorn to produce sauces. On installation the system was very successful at increasing the production rate adding significant value to the production process.

Very pleased with the Steam Infusion system they decided to look at the whole production process with Olympus Automation to maximise its value. On inspection, the increase in production rates was so high that bottlenecks in filling were occurring, hence the value of the entire sauce production process wasn't being maximised.

The bottleneck was occurring because Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) were being used to transport finished product to local fillers. Although IBC’s offer a high degree of flexibility the sheer number of movements and physical changes was limiting the production rate of the entire process.

This holistic approach led to installing an automated finished bulk storage system allowing the direct feed of fillers. The value of the Steam Infusion cooking process was increased to the business, production rates increased by a further 23% with significant yield improvements.

“The Olympus Automation team’s extensive plant knowledge allowed them to deliver on time and on budget. The project execution was excellent with minimal disruption to production.”

 Ian Roberts, Engineering Manager, AAK Foods

A holistic approach to new technology isn't limited to analysis of production areas but considers the repercussions to all functions of a business. The increase in product quality offered from Steam Infusion has implications on other parts of the business. A higher quality product can be a key differentiator in a competitive market. Higher quality, unique products strengthen customer relationships with a greater focus on quality rather than price offering more reliable future revenue streams.