A sweet and tasty scent hangs in the air at the Orkla Foods plant in Tollarp in Skåne, some 18 km south of Kristianstad. The biggest jam factory in the Nordic region is situated here. The 55 staff manufacture jams and marmalades under the Önos, Felix, Bob and Den Gamle Fabrik brands for the most part, as well as apple sauce and compote.
They're making Felix lingonberry jam when we arrive for our visit. Making jams and marmalades is a relatively simple process involving only a small number of elements. Fruit and berries of various kinds, as well as sugar, are delivered by truck several times a week. The ingredients are weighed out during the preparation process. The frozen lingonberries are poured into huge, round aluminium trays with wheels, known as trolleys, which can hold 300 kg. These trolleys are then raised and their contents are tipped into a hopper on the top of the tank, a Tetra Albatch. Eight trolleys of lingonberries are used for a single batch, and it takes 20 batches to produce the 60,000 jars containing 800 g each that they're producing today.
The ingredients are processed in the huge food processor tanks for around 48 minutes in total, and are boiled for one minute at a temperature of 85 °C. Sugar, in either dry or liquid form, is pumped into the tanks and citric acid is added. Sugar is self-preserving, so only a small amount of preservative is needed. When the lingonberry jam is ready, it's pumped on to the filling lines where glass jars are filled with the jam and labelled.
28 October 2015 saw the opening of the new boiling plant, with process equipment from Tetra Pak. The five boiling tanks were built specifically for Orkla Foods jam production. A sight glass at the end of each tank was one of a number of details specifically requested when the five tanks were ordered. The precise boiling time varies depending on the quality of the lingonberries, and the sight glass allows operator to assess the progress of the process and see when the jam is ready.
"We used to have equipment that cost a stupendous amount to maintain. It was completely non-functional during maintenance, it was difficult to clean because lots of parts were close to the floor, and it was impossible to predict when it'd need servicing. As a result, we were often forced to replan production at short notice," says Erik Wendel, site manager at Orkla Foods in Tollarp.
The new tanks were raised 40 cm off the floor and valves were placed on the back, making it considerably easier to clean and service them. A fairly large manhole also facilitates maintenance. Another difference is that the line doesn't need to stop for maintenance, they just have to disconnect one tank at a time. The theoretical maximum capacity is the same as for the previous solution, but in purely technical terms it's better because it's more flexible.
"We have more combination options in production now. We can run five tanks for one filling line, or four plus one, or three plus two – much more flexible than before. This is allowing us to future proof our production," explains Erik.
Tetra Pak being given the job of installing new equipment was by no means a done deal. The food processors to be replaced – the ones causing so much dissatisfaction at Orkla Foods – were from Foodtech. We actually acquired this solution and developed it to create Tetra Albatch.
"As far as Tetra Pak were concerned, they had an uphill struggle to face in that we'd already tried their solution, so they had to do a lot of explaining to help us see how things could be improved," says Erik.
"We took along our engineers so that technical discussions could be held, and we listened to what the production staff wanted. After that, we used standard equipment but customised it so that we could meet Orkla's requests," says Lars Svensson, Nordics customer manager for Orkla Foods.
Maintenance, capacity, operation, flexibility and ease of servicing were the most important criteria for the new equipment. The overall cost throughout the service life of the equipment was a more important consideration than the price.
"It'll be here for 20 to 25 years, so the total cost of ownership is important," said Erik. Orkla Foods has invested almost SEK 55 million in a new boiling process, a new filling line, a robotic packing line, labelling equipment and refurbishment of the premises at the Tollarp plant over the past two years.
"Our rate of investment has been high given our size, but we were very much in need of investment. If we're to continue to exist, we need to invest and position ourselves as a centre of excellence when it comes to jams and marmalades," says Erik.
Lars reckons that customers like Orkla have much to gain from our expertise. In this case, we have cutting-edge skills in the field of Prepared Food, and new products were launched in early 2016 which Orkla tested at our Product Development Centre (PDC).
"We're working more and more closely with our customers, we help them to develop their processes and their business. We have to make sure that customers are given access to our skills," says Lars.
"We have to prove every day that we deserve our place in the group. Nowadays we're a good, robust, profitable factory. We're here to stay, so it's great that we can be involved at an early stage in the discussions when Tetra Pak develops new equipment, such as Tetra Vertico®," says Erik.