Word from the top

It has been a great year for SF Engineering. We’ve grown stronger and our projects have been successful across different sectors and they’ve also taken us around the world as you can see in this issue of InSync.

With our operation and team going strong we introduce to you the changes and expansions that are underway in the articles ‘Looking Ahead’ and ‘We’ve Been Busy’.

In this issue three of our valued customers give us their take on working with us and our solutions. Willowbrook Foods has teamed up with SF Engineering to optimise their fresh salad packing. Welsh red meat processor St Merryn Foods has significantly improved operational efficiency, yield and productivity with twenty four SF Opal boning and packing lines. Finally, Irish pig meat processor Divillys tells us how the new intelligent THS 21 metal detectors from CEIA provide the brand security they need for their pork products.

This winter we offer free customer trials on the Ishida X-Ray machine. The positive feedback on service we have received from our customers inspired us to profile the service and spare parts department in this issue. SF offers equipment training, preventive maintenance and full spare parts packages as part of our after sales service. After all it is not just machines that we offer; it is the back up and support that is most important to our customers.

Looking Ahead

Based on the solid performance of our team and our solutions, we are now able to expand the business and invest in both new premises and technology upgrades while adding more people to our staff.

The SF team is happy to be able to announce some good news in the midst of the turbulent times in the Irish economy. Our operations have been strong and our customer base has not only remained solid, but we’ve enjoyed a steady growth with new and bigger projects. Due to this SF will expand its workforce by 25% over the coming 12 months while enjoying the recent 40% increase in our manufacturing capacity.

New Production Area

We have expanded our production area, devoting a large proportion of the space to the fabrication of our Batch Distribution Systems (BDS) as well as housing the bead-blast finishing division. A dedicated customer PDI area and a new R&D centre have also been added, both aimed at better serving our increasing customer base.

The benefits of Ishida’s Data Capture Software are outlined in State of the Art Monitoring while brand protection is the main issue in our article on CEIA’s metal detection systems. And finally, Bord Bia export report show the industry is optimistic as global growth underpins the food markets

Creating Excellence through Investment

To strengthen the R&D and manufacturing process SF Engineering has invested in a new CNC Router. This practical addition to capital equipment already installed at the SF facility in Sligo reduces waste and improves lead times, which ensure that SF can deliver to our customers high expectations.

The future in design

In conjunction with the expansion of our production area we have also invested heavily in the heart of the company – our design department. With brand new top-of-the-range computer technology and a recent Solidworks 2011 upgrade, all our designers have the best resources needed to produce high quality design at their fingertips.

Investing in the future

SF is committed to continuous investment to ensure that our products and services are of the quality expected by our valued customer base.

Smart Detection

The new intelligent THS 21 metal detectors from CEIA guarantee the brand security needed for Divilly’s move into new market sectors.

For decades Irish pig meat processor Divilly’s has produced high quality cooked ham, bacon and sausage under their own brand for the deli market. With a strong brand and a well known product the owner Brian Divilly decided to take their much acclaimed product to the supermarket sector. The move required a new processing line and some new technology to ensure success.

New processing line

Divilly’s invested in a new factory extension and a new high speed pork line for their product innovation. SF Engineering is proud to have supplied Divilly’s with top-ofthe-line metal detection equipment from market leader CEIA to ensure their brand security. THS 21 performs the tight-spec inspection Divilly’s were looking for to secure their new product line.

High-performance metal detection

“We were impressed with the performance of the new THS 21 and installed two detectors on the new pork line,” explains Michael Forde, Divilly’s Production Manager. “The detector is exceptionally accurate and we are getting everything we want out of the application.”

Sensitive, accurate and easy to use

These highly sensitive metal detectors are immune to environmental interference, thus guaranteeing the precise readings needed in the meat processing sector. The units are simple and easy to use. Simple operating controls feature presets for 500 products.

Automatic learning & tracking

This smart application not only detects contaminating metals, including ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel with unprecedented accuracy but includes an auto-learning feature that greatly improves the entire detection process. Auto-learn selects the correct frequency band for the product at setup, and then tracks and reacts to product effect variations during production.

Ideal for multi-product lines

The THS 21 metal detector provides excellent results on multi-product lines, where the individual products have very different conductivity characteristics. The wide pass band of the metal detector allows operation at maximum sensitivity at both slow and fast speeds.

Premium performance

“We are very pleased with the performance of our new metal detectors,” says Forde. “They are in keeping with the rest of the high quality equipment that we have invested in and have performed wonderfully for our new range. We are confident that we are delivering a secure, high-quality product to the supermarket shelf.”

Keep it Green

Keeping the leafy green salads of Willowbrook Farms fresh and crunchy is easy with the Ishida Multihead Weighers.

One of Ireland’s leading growers and processors of vegetables, salads, stir fry and mash products, Willowbrook Farms, has teamed up with SF Engineering to optimise their fresh salad packing. The company sells to some of the best known supermarkets in the UK and Ireland as well as providing fresh produce to leading hotels, restaurants, and convenience food outlets.

Keep it fresh

The first step was taken back in 2009 when Willowbrook Farms did some serious comparison shopping for a new weighing and packing application for fresh salads. After comparing both the performance and price of several applications, the company opted to install an Ishida multihead weigher. SF Engineering was on hand to supply the right equipment, in a timely fashion at a competitive price.

The first machine performed so well that Willowbrook Farms decided to install two more to further enhance their fresh salad packing lines. “We are committed to delivering quality products to our retail, foodservice, and food manufacturing customers,” says managing director John McCann. “Based on the past performance of the Ishida multihead weigher we decided to install two more units for the fresh salad line. We have had an excellent working relationship with SF Engineering and the Ishida weighers have met the strict requirements we have for fresh produce packing.”

Keep it crunchy

With decades of development history behind them, Ishida’s multihead weighers are the top-of-the-line perfomers in weighing of salads and fresh produce. The weighers are flexible and accurate, enabling frequent and rapid changes to pack size and format with optimal speeds for maximum efficiency and productivity.

Gentle product handling is essential in packing fresh salads to avoid bruising or damage. The Ishida weighers truly treat the product with kid gloves. Because of the advanced design, salad does not stick or cling to handling surfaces. The product is also accurately and precisely weighed into bags to reduce waste and giveaway.

Keep it coming

The Ishida multihead weighers have helped the company increase their production capability, delivering accurate portions in prime condition at optimal speed. “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of the food they eat as they look for products that are able to fit both their health conscious and busy lifestyles,” explains Colin Ferguson, sales director. “For these savvy consumers our ranges of prepared salad and vegetable products are ideal and we are well placed to meet their needs with our increased production capability.” SF Engineering is proud to supply Willowbrook Farms some of the solutions that have enabled them to remain at the forefront of the prepared produce market in Ireland.

“Based on the past performance of the Ishida multihead weigher we decided to install two more units for the fresh salad line. We have had an excellent working relationship with SF Engineering and the Ishida weighers have met the strict requirements we have for fresh produce packing.” John McCann, MD, Willowbrook Farms

Are you ready for your X-ray?

SF Invites you to book a free trial on the Ishida X-Ray Inspection System

You now have the chance to try the Ishida X-Ray inspection system on your own product. You simply call us and book a free trial of the Ishida X-Ray inspection system and we take care of the rest. It’s easy. You can either bring the product to us yourself, or you can send the product you want us to run and we send you the results. In some cases we can even bring the machine to you.

All the QC information you need to clear your product

The system not only detects foreign contaminants in product but remains your ally when it comes to other QC problems. The system easily carries out product in-seal detection, weight estimation, and crack detection in bulk flow as well as product counting and missing item detection.

Avoid possible medical and legal problems

As you know, investment in X-Ray inspection is an insurance against costly product recall claims from retailers and protects consumers and brands at the same time. Ishida X-Ray inspection can be used at any stage in your production process to tell you with the greatest accuracy and reliability when foreign bodies are contaminating your product. This helps you avoid the medical and legal problems that might otherwise result.

Also detects product defects

Ishida’s X-ray inspection can detect product defects ranging from misshapen pieces to cracks, lumps or voids. It can also be applied to checking product or piece weights of products on both food and non-food items.

Book your FREE trial with us today. Call us now on 00353 (0)71 9163334 or email us

Flex-Line Packing

The new Ishida high performance Flex-Line modular packaging system reduces product giveaway and rework to deliver a fast return on investment.

Ishida Europe has launched the world’s first modular split dual-lane tray packing system for fresh foods. The system enables food manufacturers to create bespoke packing lines for their specific requirements while achieving significant savings in labour, downtime and consumables.

Matching modules

Based on the flexibility of a modular approach, Ishida’s new tray packing system comprises a set of integrated modules that fit together to make up a variety of complete, high-efficiency tray packing lines. All modules have been designed to work seamlessly together in terms of product handling, signalling, data sharing, data collection and interfacing.

Simultaneously run different products

One key feature of the Flex-Line is its option to run two different products simultaneously and independently of each other. Those two products can differ in terms of type, size and weight and also in the type of tray or film used or in the MAP gas mixture. The Flex-Line also has the ability to allow one lane to be changed over while the other remains in operation.


Flex-Line covers filling, sealing, checking and case-packing. Individual modules include tray denesters, multihead weighers, tray fillers and sealers, foreign body detection units, checkweighers, seal testers, label inspection and end-of-line packing units.

Tailor made to your needs

The new Flex-line concept combines the benefits of standard modular component production with the benefits that come from being able to deliver tailor made systems geared to individual customer requirements.

Delivers the perfect pack

The result is perfect pack presentation with accurate filling and intact seals. End of line quality control and traceability features ensure correct weight, contamination protection, seal integrity, correct label position and printed data accuracy.

Lamb on the Line

By installing SF Opal pace lines and new packing and warehousing systems, red meat processor St Merryn Foods has significantly improved operational efficiency, yield, and productivity.

A part of the VION Food Group, St Merryn Foods process and pack high quality beef and lamb for the UK retail market. Working with UK – based SF Opal, they installed new lamb processing lines that have increased productivity, helping to maintain their position as a leading UK red meat processor.

Production line redesign

“As a long term customer of SF Opal, St Merryn Foods consulted with us when they decided to redesign their entire lamb and beef retail packing lines last year,” explains Jon Christie, Technical Director of SF Opal. “We had installed a new lamb pace boning system to replace their traditional table boning system in 2007. Our pace line worked well for them and we have been very happy to assist them in their redesign process over many years.”

In a radical overhaul, the Merthyr-based plant – which employs around 1000 people – installed new lamb boning and offal lines with packing and warehousing solutions from SF Opal.

“To get what we wanted out of the facility we saw that we needed to revise our entire plant layout, incorporate new lines, and install new equipment,” says site managing director Gary Hughes at St Merryn Foods. “This was a significant investment for VION UK and we were also fortunate to receive a grant to proceed. The project completely revamped our sorting and packing with new equipment which smoothed out and increased production flow by removing waste and downtime.”

Increased productivity

The investment was aimed not only at increasing the volume of productivity but ensuring the plant’s place at the forefront of meat processing technology.

According to Ian Woods, finance director of VION UK’s red meat business unit, the 2010 redesign was the biggest single project in any of the VION UK red meat business unit processing facilities, since the initial construction of the Merthyr Tydfil site. “The redesign of our operation in Merthyr was aimed at increasing the efficiency of the plant, improving production procedures and creating a high-tech facility that would enable us to maintain the business’ competitive position with its customers well into the future,” says Mr. Woods.

New equipment, new methods With the implementation of SF Opal’s new boning lines St Merryn Foods has moved away from table boning to embrace pace boning as the new method for lamb. “The changeover came about after a two year discussion period ending up in a trial installation of our line,” explains Christie. “The trial was an outstanding success resulting in a successful turnkey project.”

“It is a pleasure working with the people at St Merryn Foods as their approach is well thought out and our two companies interact with the overriding factor of co-operation and commitment,” continues Christie. “This always leads to a successful well planned conclusion and a very easy start up after the installation of all their projects.”

Fast paced packing

SF Opal improved the layout of the packing lines by implementing a new warehousing system delivering to the end of the line. This included modifications to some of their existing equipment as well as the installation of new higher tech equipment and conveyors to help streamline the process.

The new packing lines have greatly improved packing efficiencies with automated production and streamlined conveyorage including computerised yield checks. New tray lidding machines were installed. They operate at higher speeds with much more efficient waste levels than before. The areas around the OCM packing were also updated resulting in a much better product flow to order picking.

Efficient & Economical

The partnership has enabled VION to implement advanced technology and production methods that have reduced costs and increased operational efficiency. The new streamlined process has minimised giveaway, improved labour costs and employee satisfaction. The new facility simply runs better, is more efficient and easier to manage than before.

Save Time, Save Money

SF Engineering offers its customers the convenience of a one-stopshop for all their service needs. We provide preventive maintenance, equipment service and repairs, training seminars and a full spare parts inventory for all the equipment we supply.

We take a planned and proactive approach toward the upkeep of equipment and the development and enhancement of the skill base at each customer’s site.


SF offers in-depth training seminars and individual training classes for every piece of equipment we sell. We also offer comprehensive training sessions for new employees both at customer’s sites and our own training facility.

“We help keep knowledge alive with effective training seminars.”

Good training increases operational security and improves employee performance and satisfaction. Our training courses are designed to help customers get the most out of their equipment and maintain the knowledge base already in place at their facility.

Spare Parts

SF offers a comprehensive supply of spare parts at competitive prices. Full inventory for:

  • Ishida equipment
  • Ilapak equipment
  • CEIA equipment
  • Roser equipment
  • Jenton equipment
  • Key Technology equipment

“Everything you need in one place at great prices.”

Conveyor parts:

  • Intralox Modular Plastic Belting
  • Thermo drive, PVC and Wire
  • Plastic and stainless steel sprockets
  • Bearings & rollers
  • Festo and SMC Pneumatics,
  • Allen Bradley PLC Controls,
  • Conveyor shafts & wear strips
  • Electrical components for control panels

“I can only commend SF, on the level of service provided, With scant and often bewildering information supplied, whenever I have sought information, you have always managed to find a solution to our problems. Delivery lead times are always met or bettered.” Dave Brown, Dunbia, Preston

Preventive Maintenance

Prevent problems before they happen, maximise performance and keep your line running smoothly. Our preventive maintenance program includes line and factory audits with full status and maintenance reports, pre-scheduled check ups and customized preventative maintenance plans to ensure optimal performance. Avoid unnecessary downtime and enhance your equipment operation with our tried and tested program. “Avoid unnecessary downtime.”

“SF Engineering has been supplying Bewley’s manufacturing plant with specialist equipment for close to a decade, a key part of this is the after sales service that SF provides to their customers. SF is committed to building long lasting partnerships where the primary goal is customer satisfaction. The SF service team have worked closely with us and I have found that their highly experienced specialists have always performed beyond expectation. ” Eamonn Diver, Bewleys


Official calibration of metal detectors is available from SF. The equipment is tested for performance and reliability at a measured frequency, as well as calibrated and tested under product conditions. Calibrated machines are stamped and issued with a certificate of calibration– valid for six months – and an engineering report as required. “Get your calibration certificate directly from SF.”

“I have had an excellent working relationship with the professionals at SF Engineering. Things need to be kept up and running in our business and the service team at SF has been very helpful when we’ve needed assistance. It has also been very convenient to be able to contact them directly for spare parts.” Alan Burns, Largo

“I always found SF’s service fast and reliable .When I need parts and service visits SF Engineering do everything they can to help me out with a very professional approach every time. I hope to work with them well in to the future.” – Stephen Smith, Gaines Pet Foods

We’ve Been Busy

This year our projects have taken us across continents, into every sector of the food processing industry. We’ve worked hard and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thanks to a serious investment in R&D, SF Engineering has managed to rise above the current challenges facing the food and equipment manufacturing industry. Challenges dictated by a demanding operational environment and a highly competitive market. The company’s commitment to research and new application development has resulted in numerous advantages and opportunities that have given SF a solid return on investment.

Strong component supplier

One of the most successful projects has been the co-operation with Ishida Europe on the enhanced version of its Weigh-Batcher. The new batching line allows the accurate weighing of fresh meat and poultry to be combined with manual manipulation in order to optimise product arrangement and presentation in a tray.

Expanding the field

The partnership with Ishida Europe has extended to various other projects across a range of sectors throughout the UK. It has also resulted in a significant number of installations with key poultry producers in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and South America.

A wide range of solutions

Working with other leading brand partners the SF team has also been busy supplying everything from multihead weighing, bagging, traysealing, flowrapping, checkweighing, labelling, metal detection and X Ray solutions across a range of sectors including poultry, pork, salad, convenience, dairy and shellfish, as well as sorting solutions across the UK.

The SF Opal team has achieved an even stronger position with new installations of boning hall solutions for the red meat industry. The fresh produce sector has been no exception, with numerous weighing and sorting solutions installed across Europe. SF’s flexible conveyor systems have also been well received in the pharmaceutical industry where the company continues to gain ground.

Forward thinking

All of these projects have not only kept us busy but allowed us to build a solid foundation for the future. By combining a focus on R&D with a solid production of tried and tested solution, SF Engineering has gained the advantage needed to push forward.

Talk to SF Engineering Now

Call us now at +353 71 91 63334 or +44 (0) 1487 740131 or email or to discuss your requirements with us. Alternatively click on the Request a Callback button below to arrange for one of our team to contact you.