Reevaluating what the term ‘turnkey’ means for confectionery manufacturers and how it has developed and evolved to further optimise and enhance production processes – sponsored by BCH

The confectionery market is booming, with the global chocolate, confectionery and desserts sector expected to witness an upward volume and value trajectory from 2020-23, and value increasing at a faster rate than volume when compared to baseline industry predictions. With such a prime opportunity for sales growth, it’s more important than ever for confectionery manufacturers to optimise production processes, while maintaining high quality output, to remain competitive. However, it can be challenging for plant managers to achieve this when working with several different equipment suppliers, as this often leads to inefficient operations and incompatible line components. Partnering with a turnkey solutions provider, though, could bring numerous benefits that can help keep lines running efficiently for years to come. 

Turnkey: an evolving definition 

But first, what is a ‘turnkey’ solution and what does it mean for today’s confectionery manufacturers? The concept has historically meant that equipment, including the design, manufacturing, commissioning and installation, is operational as soon as the ‘key’ is turned. However, as the food processing and packaging sectors become increasingly automated, it is now more complex than simply turning a key. In fact, many ‘plug and play’ systems have been customised and extensively fine-tuned before they reach the line, to ensure the final set-up meets manufacturers’ exact requirements. Although the definition of turnkey solutions may have evolved over time, they remain a valuable way for confectionery manufacturers to optimise production lines.

Stefania Montalti, Communications Manager at Cepi, explains what a turnkey solution means from her perspective: A turnkey solution is one that makes the user independent, both during operations and in terms of data. Once the commissioning is over, the user will not need the intervention of another supplier to complete their process or to gather information about it. 

A turnkey solution is one that makes the user independent, both during operations and in terms of data”  

“In bulk handling, a turnkey system is a system that manages all processes from storage to dosing, can support all materials both powdered and liquid, comes with integrated automation and tracks all its operations. CEPI will do all this as well as take care of every step of the project, from the analysis of the customer’s product and process, to engineering and control, direct manufacture of all equipment as well as logistics and commissioning. 

“Independence and efficiency, as interfacing with a single interlocutor hugely simplifies and optimises the process. On top of this, a turnkey solution is highly customised, tailored to the specific needs of each user rather than forcing them to change their process to fit with a standardised technology.” 

Total traceability 

Traceability is an additional consideration for producers. Growing consumer demand for greater transparency and increasingly stringent food safety regulations across the globe are causing confectionery manufacturers to review their existing production processes. Turnkey packaging systems can provide significant benefits to help improve traceability and in-line checking throughout the whole process. For instance, total solution offerings that include data collection equipment and barcode scanning systems can accurately check that the correct product batches are being processed by scanning the barcode and cross-checking it against available data. 

“Turnkey packaging systems can provide significant benefits to help improve traceability and in-line checking” 

Plus, date code assurance systems ensure the date code is printed in full and legible, while in-line monitoring systems, such as metal detectors and x-ray equipment, help prevent contamination before packaging. Integrating these systems into the production line can significantly improve product traceability. 

Taking turnkey further 

It is time to re-evaluate our definition of ‘turnkey’ and what it means for the confectionery sector. In food processing and packaging, it has evolved from a simple ‘off the shelf’ solution, to a more total systems approach, with equipment being pre-configured and customised to meet specific manufacturing requirements. In practice, tailoring a confectionery line to a plant’s needs can meet key productivity objectives, improve efficiency and increase throughput – without compromising product quality.  

Covering everything from design to aftermarket support, an end-to-end solutions provider can provide invaluable expertise. This full project management support from start to finish, enables confectionery manufacturers to innovate and improve production lines resulting in maximising output and efficiencies. 

“This full project management support from start to finish, enables confectionery manufacturers to innovate and improve production lines” 

Montalti says CEPI’s working model is centred around customisation and research, to the aim of building exactly this kind of installation. The diversification in their technology is a direct consequence of pursuing specialised solutions for each different project. Turnkey systems can only be developed by someone who possesses a diversified enough technology to cover all possible processes a user might want to add to their production. 

“The integrated data we provide is immediately and independently accessible. It allows traceability and makes it possible to verify the efficiency of their system. The customer can carry out mass production balances and check consumptions, generate relevant information for departments such as Quality Control and Purchases, create projections of future productions and optimise the current process,” she says.  

CEPI provides a turn-key system that includes the automation. Hardware and software design is done completely in-house, with production management through touch panels and software for process control, traceability and warehouse management.  

“Our automation and software design team works closely and in parallel to the engineering team, providing technical and human continuity through the development of a project that can become very specific and complex.” 

CEPI’s touch panels can be fully customised and handle recipe management, ingredient and hopper parametrisation, synoptic overview with real time status and maintenance of utilities with manual command, loading of silos and other stations, and any other functions like washing and climatisation.  

“CEPI’s native software Tracking System provides complete traceability including digitalisation of all ingredient movements, lot control and warehouse management, production analysis with statistics of ingredient consumption, batch reports with deviations, stock visualisation and graphics illustrating product, recipe or lot trends. All of our data can be easily integrated with global ERP to achieve organisation-wide traceability,” Montalti explains. 

Dosing accuracy is key for confectionery manufacturers. CEPI’s dosing systems come with integrated automation and are designed through an extensive study of the manufacturer’s processes. They are customised to match analysis of raw materials, site evaluation, environment and consumptions.   

Designing a dosing system is a complex process that requires detailed information that goes beyond the purely technical, involving all departments from warehouse to marketing to consider future productions. “With three decades of experience in designing in carrying out this process, we provide a system that ensures repeatability and accuracy of recipe, higher production volumes, improved working conditions, enhanced communication with other software and ERP, higher hygiene and reduced consumptions, powders and pollutions. Our systems optimise the production area and the warehouse and are easy to adapt or expand including the addition of new ingredients due to the flexibility of the process.” 

Fragrance, taste and integrity: an automatised management of dosing processes and raw ingredients not only ensures efficiency but is the best choice for manufacturers who wish to achieve a final product of high quality and unique flavour. 

Montalti concludes: “The dedicated area for research and development in our new headquarters has been greatly expanded. As mentioned, customisation and technological research go hand in hand for us, and we plan to even further increase the specialisation of our installations, providing our customers with more tests, prototypes and food technology assistance, as well as generally expanding the reach of our technology.” 

 From the sponsor, BCH

BCH outline their specific turnkey solutions for confectionery manufacturing through enhanced automation, client support and plans for longevity  

BCH are a leading process partner offering turnkey solutions for our clients all over the world. Our entire equipment range is designed, manufactured and tested prior to delivery at our UK facility. The core of our supply is from the kitchen to the cutting process (in the case of an extrusion application). However, we are fully equipped for industrial partnering and when requested we can extended our scope to include the integration of raw material delivery and packaging solutions. 

Given the location of some customers, infrastructure is typically arranged locally although BCH do work very closely with our customers and their contractors from the planning stages through to implementation which keeps the project costs under control. 

Case Study 

BCH were set the challenge to provide a UK export turnkey solution to one of the world’s leading confectionery brands.  

The overall scope included the following – 

  • Raw material delivery (wet/dry ingredients) to the kitchen system. 
  • Complete Kitchen System. 
  • Cooking and Extrusion Process. 
  • Automatic colour and flavour dosing application. 
  • Conditioning, cooling, cutting and product alignment package. 
  • Product transfer system to packaging. 
  • Multi lane packaging and bagging solution. 
  • Automation System Integration for the entire Line with interface to the clients ERP system. 

As this project was overseas and operating in different time zones, the BCH in house projects team planned regular scheduled co-ordination meetings between themselves, the client and all other stakeholders in the project to ensure timely execution of the milestones throughout the project lifecycle. 

BCH co-ordinated a series of Factory Acceptance tests with the client and other stakeholders in attendance prior to the equipment being shipped to the final destination. 

Once the equipment arrived at the final location, BCH site technicians were on hand to supervise the installation of the equipment followed by commissioning and training services, remaining on site in a supporting role until the line was in full production and handed over to the satisfied client. 

Benefits of choosing BCH for turnkey projects 

When our clients are considering a turnkey system, there would be series of discussions that take place and sharing of information between the parties to outline the objectives of the overall project. Following this BCH would then offer advice as to the best approach the task.  This is due to the fact that each project we deliver has its own set of specific requirements and would usually entail Turnkey supply given the benefits this would yield for the customer.  

Those benefits being- 

  • BCH process knowledge, expertise and quality solutions offer full support for the client throughout the process and beyond with our dedicated spares and service teams, as opposed to alternative providers where third party equipment is utilised which can significantly remove the span of control throughout the project and offer limited after sales support. 
  • The client can be satisfied that the project is all being managed at one source allowing them more time to focus on other commitments.  
  • They are procuring a complete package with all elements designed to integrate seamlessly.