The new installation at the producer’s Llantrisant, South Wales factory was facilitated by food machinery specialist Holmach, utilising equipment from its partners Jorgensen Engineering of Denmark and Lagarde Autoclaves of France.
Fully automated, the line uses robotic handling to take pouches running from high-speed fillers and arrange them into pocketed retort trays that are then piled into stacks. These are then automatically loaded into the autoclaves.
Compliant for the US
Industry 4.0-compliant, the system is tracked throughout the process and uses equipment approved by the Food and Drug Administration, making the products FEI manufactures compliant in the US.
Commenting on the investment, FEI managing director Simon Lewis said: “FEI has worked with Holmach for nearly 20 years and we are very comfortable with Lagarde and Jorgensen as high technology partners for what has become the best ready-to-heat, pouched rice on the market.
“We have the highest capacity manufacturing facilities of this type worldwide and the equipment will allow us to produce many different types of product with any type of packaging. Holmach has offered us good UK-based process, technical and engineering support.”
The latest investment by FEI comes two years after it moved into a new 23,226m2 factory in Llantrisant, following a rise in demand for the convenience foods.
The increase in space has allowed the manufacturer to boost investment in the research and development of new products, as well as create 70 new jobs at the business.
Meanwhile, canned foods manufacturer Princes has completed the next stage of its £80m investment into its Long Sutton, Lincolnshire factory.
The installation of a hydrostat tower – using one of the UK’s largest mobile cranes – further advanced a two-year project at the plant, after the opening of a new pea factory in June 2019.