Hilton Food Group

Red Meat Processing Improvements

Building on a continuous partnership, the Hilton Food Group has worked closelywith SF Engineering to improve their red meat packing process. The results: better throughput, increased productivity and less production cost.

The Hilton Food Group emphasises quality, freshness and exceptional service to their customers around Europe. Opening in spring 2004, the company’s beef, lamb and pork packing facility in Drogheda, Ireland, boasts of one of the most sophisticated packing processes in the country.

SF Engineering had a hand in designing and installing the systems that make the plant what it is today. Like the other Hilton Food Group meat packing facilities, the Drogheda plant is maintained at the advanced technological level required for efficient operations that support high volumetric utilisation of different types of fresh and cured meats.

Overall processing improvements

Hilton wanted to partner with a company that could help them improve their production process. Over the years SF Engineering has proven to be that partner, working closely with Hilton to improve their overall packing layout, reduce their giveaway and improve overall efficiency while reducing downtime during production changeovers. SF has also supplied solutions that have improved pack presentation and fixed weight accuracy.

A successful partnership

It all began with a simple consultation on improving packing processes. From that first successful consultation came the installation of efficient, automated pace packing lines that have become the basis for Hilton’s packing operation. Since then SF has gone one to supply Hilton with tray denesting, fixed weight checkweighers and advanced Ishida fresh meat packing system that integrates high-tech Ishida checkweighers with CEIA metal detectors. All are tied together with SF’s tried and tested conveyor systems.

Radical changes with Pace Packing Line

“SF designed a Pace Packing Line for Hilton that took into account the speed, accuracy and efficiency required by them,” explains Padraig Regan, Senior Project Manager, SF Engineering. “We replaced Hilton’s manual packing lines with Pace Packing Lines, which meant that the equipment dictated the speed of the line, resulting in reduced labour costs, consistent production speed and more efficiency.”

Quick and easy changeovers

The SF Pace Packing Line is equipped with touch screen line control panels that have made product changeovers incredibly easy. Each product is pre-programmed into the system, requiring only a simple push of a button to change product lines. Bottlenecks on the packing line have been eliminated with the streamlined pace and easy changeovers provided by the system. “To further improve efficiency and line speed, Hilton also installed tray denesters from SF on some of their packing lines,” explains Regan. “The tray denesters are easy to install, simple to operate and require no tools or technicians for changeovers.”

Efficient fresh meat packing

With the partnership between the two companies going strong, Hilton has continued to work with SF in finding the most efficient processing solutions for the Drogheda operation. Looking to automate the weighing of fresh diced meat and chops, Hilton opted for the Ishida Fresh Food Weigher for their line, custom fitted with SF conveyors. The fresh food weigher dramatically improves efficiency with better flow of sticky products and efficient and accurate weighing at the right speed. “We also installed an Ishida Checkweigher on this line which ensures packs remain within specification every time,” says Padraig.

Remaining cost competitive

“We are very happy with the ongoing improvements to our processing system,” says John McLoughlin, Hilton Food Group’s Operations Manager at Drogheda. “This is an extended team effort to create a streamlined, advanced processing system capable of evolving with our customer requirements. The process of replacing manual operations with advanced automated lines has allowed us to remain cost competitive in an extremely challenging business.”

The partnership continues

Just recently SF assisted Hilton Food Group in mapping out a new sausage production facility, advising on layout and production flow as well as equipment sourcing. SF supply their tried and tested conveyor solutions to the new sausage line as well as metal detection applications. “We have focused on delivering significant benefits in terms of throughput, quality and speed,” concludes Regan. “I am proud to say that we seem to have achieved those goals.”

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