Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Many ready meal components are delicate or non-uniform in size and shape and therefore cannot be handled by machinery. Manual placing of ingredients is the only effective way of preparing a multi component product, resulting in a labour intensive and often inefficient process. Manual handling can also cause over filling of high value products such as protein resulting in above optimum give away and reduced profit margin.
In a factory with multiple SKUs, the number of potential combinations of ingredients can be immense. Changeovers can be complex and labour intensive involving multiple automated filling and manual operator stations. Manufacturers often face labour shortages and a transient workforce with pressure to de-skill processes to meet the capabilities of the labour available.
Intelligent weighing systems can help to improve profit margins by reducing changeover time, simplifying line set up and minimising give away on the more costly ingredients. These generally consist of a software management system linked to individual weighing stations (positive scales or negative takeaway scales) located along a make up line. Some systems are flexible enough to support the swapping and moving of weighing stations to suit the individual recipes and components to be filled.
Recipes can be stored in the software system and then at changeover selected and sent to all of the individual weighing stations with clear visual information at each station showing the component and target weight. This simple recipe selection for line product changeovers ensures they are quick and error free regardless of how many stations and components are required.
Cost savings can be realised by using an intelligent weighing system that uses simple visual indicators to the line operators to help them place the optimal amount of product repeatedly. A traffic light system is a simple way of showing the individual operator whether they are within the required weight tolerance for the product they are placing into the tray.
Operational Management Tools
Live reports and visual management tools support operational decisions by showing performance by each individual operator on the line. By pinpointing below target performers, training and support can be provided during the production run with immediate impact on results.
To read how Packaging Automation’s Miweigh factory intelligent weigh system can improve your ready meal line efficiencies and provide real cost savings click here.