Olympus acquisition of PDX could save manufacturers millions

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Norman claimed his firm can save manufacturers millions
Norman claimed his firm can save manufacturers millions
Olympus Automation has claimed its acquisition of the rights to sell the novel PDX sonic mixing and cooking technology from failed company Pursuit Dynamics, will improve its uptake and could save food and drink firms millions of pound through reduced processing costs.

Despite attracting investment of £25M between 2010 and 2012, Pursuit Dynamics only managed to provide customers with modest returns and after trying to do “too much”​ with the technology and stopped trading in March 2013 making 57 staff redundant, said Olympus Automation md Harry Norman.

Olympus Automation subsequently acquired the business earlier this month. Norman wouldn’t disclose exactly how much he paid for the rights to sell the PDX technology, but said it was in the “hundreds of thousands”​ of pounds. The acquisition included the transfer of some key staff.

Olympus Automation is a small process automation specialist working in food and beverage manufacture. It started up in 1993, primarily selling software services. In 2001 it set up a Process Division to provide turnkey solutions to the industry. In 2011 its turnover broke the £10M mark. Recent projects have included the installation of a £1.8M turnkey chilled soup facility.

Norman’s strategy is to to target more carefully the areas where PDX is marketed and not overstate the capabilities of the technology.

Wasting 10% of turnover

Norman claimed food manufacturers were wasting 10% of their annual turnover because they weren’t using the right technologies, such as PDX, in their factories to improve efficiency.

“From our experiences with food manufacturers we can realistically say they are wasting millions of pounds a year,”​ said Norman. “We are looking to make multi-million pound savings for firms and believe adding the technologies acquired from PDX to our current software is the best way to make a big difference.”

PDX reactor technology reduces the cooking time of products from 60 to 20 minutes and reduces energy consumption by up to 40%, he claimed.

The absence of moving parts also reduces the amount of waste water produced, as well as caustic usage and contamination caused by food burnt on to surfaces.  The equipment also removes the need to pre-slurry starches, flour and gums and reduced ingredients needed, such as starch, salt, milk and spices, he added.

Operate more efficiently

“Our business is looking at innovative ways of doing things that help food manufacturers operate more efficiently,”​ said Norman. “Having worked with PDX in the past we saw how powerful this technology was.”

Norman said Pursuit Dynamics was not successful with PDX because, as a company, it was not sufficiently customer focused and spent too much time trying to attract investment.

“They were good at selling a product, but not at making returns,”​ he claimed. “They made outrageous claims about what​ [the technology] could do.

“They looked for off the wall technology and schemes to entice investors; not to providing customers with payback.”

In contrast, Norman said Olympus would be more cautious in promoting the take-up of the technology. “We will be give conservative estimates to gains and be careful in what we say we can do,”​ he said.

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