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Burton’s invests in real-time monitoring ‘first’ for biscuit industry

By Oliver Nieburg+

10-Apr-2013

Sensors identify the position of Cadbury Fingers ready for robotic pickers.
Sensors identify the position of Cadbury Fingers ready for robotic pickers.

UK-based Burton’s Biscuit Company claims to be piloting the first real-time control room technology for the biscuit industry as part of major supply chain investments.

The makers of Wagon Wheels, Maryland Cookies, Dodgers and Cadbury biscuits this week announced that it was investing £13.5m ($21m) in manufacturing operations, £800,000 ($1.2m) of which will be spent on control room technology at its Llantarnam plant in Wales.

The firm claims the technology is a first for the biscuit industry, having been previously used in the automotive, printing industries and other sectors of food manufacturing.

How it works

Neil Grocock, chief supply chain officer at Burton's told ConfectioneryNews.com: “It involves using cameras to continually monitor key processing parameters that are normally manually recorded at set time intervals.

“As a result, Burton's has been able to increase the accuracy and frequency of the quality checks, to achieve a consistently higher level of product quality.”

He added that it allowed Burton’s to react quicker to quality issues and faster identification would help it to reduce waste.

Jammie Dodgers are measured for dimension and color by cameras, which send data back to the control room.

“The control room is manned by eight operatives from the shop floor, who have been extensively trained over four months, at an expense of £100,000 ($153,000).  Shop floor operatives and technicians can communicate with the control room and see the data displayed in the flat screen monitor-lined biscuit nerve centre via ruggedized tablet PCs,” explained Grocock.

Supply chain investments              

Burton's plans to roll out the technology at its the facilities in Blackpool and Edinburgh during the year at a total cost of £3m ($4.6m).

Last year, the company, which is the number two biscuit firm in the UK, invested £12.5m ($19.1m) in its supply chain and has spent £4.65m ($7.1m) across its Llantarnam site over two years, including investment in new robotic pickers for Cadbury Fingers to improve throughput of the line.

Grocock said the investments would allow the company “to swiftly respond to changing market dynamics and bring new products to market quicker than any other company in the biscuit market”.

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