Natures Way Foods introduces waste handling solution

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Natures Way Foods introduces waste handling solution
Natures Way Foods introduces waste handling solution

Related tags: Fresh produce, Supply chain, Technology & Automation, hygiene & cleaning

Natures Way Foods, the fresh convenience manufacturer, has introduced an automated waste handling solution to dispose of waste at its coleslaw and potato salad processing facility.

It worked with Seepex on the solution, which disposes of its waste hygienically and safely.

Natures Way Foods prepares fresh, convenient food including ready-to-eat fruit and salad products for retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.

It generates waste that has to be removed from high-care production areas in an automated, enclosed hygienic system. The existing equipment was causing ‘bridging’, where product does not pass into the pumping elements, resulting in downtime and reduced production.

The waste material, which included items such as mangoes, peaches, nectarines and grapes, created a challenge for traditional pumps as all have hard internal stones or woody waste which cannot be pumped easily.

Natures Way Foods, which has worked with Seepex since 2014, asked for a solution when they were developing their dedicated coleslaw and potato salad facility in 2017. The challenge was for a hygienic waste removal system that could handle not only different food wastes, but also the plastic pots in which they were contained.

Seepex first conducted a trial to prove that its grinders could efficiently break down the plastic pots into a pumpable format. Its engineers then built two waste removal systems: one for packaged food waste, which is sent for anaerobic digestion; and one for the remaining organic waste, which is sent for composting.

Any reject products are tipped into tote bins that are fitted with level sensors. Once they reach a certain level, the tipper is activated to drop the waste into a bespoke open hopper PC pump system, comprising an auger, a grinder and a pump. Once broken down, the waste is pumped vertically into the factory’s ceiling space before being dewatered and compacted to reduce the volume, then transported off-site for disposal.

“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 bespoke automated waste handling system, capable of processing both organic and non-organic waste streams,” ​said Andy Mays, engineering manager for Natures Way Foods.

“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 Gentle, technical lead engineer for Seepex UK, said: “In addition, we supplied BTM pumps with integrated cutting knives, bridge breakers and extended hoppers, to chop and pump all the waste produced from fruits without stones. To handle mango stones, grape vines and other tough waste, we developed a sophisticated system incorporating an auger feed screw, a vertical cutting device and an open hopper pump.”

Mays said that the solution has also brought the company cost savings as it has removed the manual element from its processes.

Seepex at Foodex

Seepex will be exhibiting at Foodex 2020 on stand no. L179. Foodex 2020 runs from 30 ​March to 1 April at the NEC Birmingham​.

Related topics: Food Safety

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