Inter Link achieves plant traceabililty in Poland

Related tags Inter link Weight Poland

Inter Link Foods has installed a multi-station Vantage recipe
formulation and traceability system at its newly acquired facility
in Poland in order to satisfy the stringent requirements of the
Tesco audit on quality and traceability.

The complete system, installed by UK firm Stevens Weighing Group, had to be completed and operational within five weeks, with all software had to be written in Polish.

UK-based Inter Link Foods, one of the top three suppliers of cakes and pastries in the UK, acquired Cukiernia Mistrza Jana (CMJ), a private company based in Szczecin in North West Poland, in December 2004.

CMJ, which produces a wide range of quality small cakes and cookies, operates from a 70,000 square foot factory with considerable spare capacity. Inter Link intends to use part of this new capacity to manufacture a range of products for UK customers and with Szczecin only 30 minutes from the German border, products can be shipped to UK distribution centres within 24 hours.

The catalyst for this latest installation was a new contract to supply a range of cakes to Tesco. To ensure competitiveness Interlink took the decision to manufacture these at the new facility in Poland, but first needed to satisfy the stringent requirements of the Tesco audit on quality and traceability.

"We had only five weeks to complete the installation and met the deadline with a few days to spare,"​ said Stevens' sales manager Stuart Hunt. "This clearly demonstrates not only our ability to react to such situations, but also the flexibility and versatility of the Vantage system, which offers 'out of the box' recipe formulation and traceability." Stevens Weighing worked with its Italian parent company Dataprocess and the Polish plant throughout the project. "This ensured excellent on site communication during installation and commissioning, and enabled the Vantage software to be written in Polish within the short time frame,"​ said Hunt.

In addition, the drive towards complete supply chain traceability means that production plants must be able to keep track of individual amounts of each ingredient along with each separate batch. This can be a daunting task. The Vantage recipe formulation modules however have been specifically developed to provide a complete recipe management, stock control and traceability system, which eliminates onerous paper based systems and allows customers to operate in control mode, not panic mode.

The installation in Szczecin, which provides full factory floor recipe control and traceability, comprises five Vantage recipe weighing and labeling stations and two Vantage collation systems, all controlled by a central PC. The recipe stations are used to weigh out specific ingredients to form sub-mixes, which are then labeled and palletised before being taken to the mixing vessels.

The formulae for particular products are entered into the central editing PC via the recipe formulation screen. The system allows management to enter and determine the exact recipe characteristics, including individual ingredient weight tolerances and how the products are added. For instance, recipes may be a mixture of weighed and non-weighed ingredients where some bulk products are added by volume or as pre-weighed blocks or bags.

To facilitate accurate ingredient weighing, the Vantage features a unique analogue dial weight acceptance screen. Experience has shown this concept is easier to use than conventional traffic light systems and presents the simplest, easiest and most accurate method to help operators achieve fast and repeatable target weights.

Depending on the batch size requirements for particular works orders, the system automatically calculates the amounts of individual ingredients needed and downloads the order to the relevant station. Making up the batches is then simplicity itself and the large screen prompts the operator throughout the formulation process.

"We know the Vantage will improve our productivity and profitability in Poland and because the system is so easy to use, operator training takes only a few minutes,"​ said Joe Tattersall, group operations director for Inter Link. "The system provides full traceability in line with European legislation and we can access important data at the touch of a button."

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