To understand the intrinsic quality and craftsmanship of Ishida equipment, born of many years’ experience and unparalleled market knowledge, we need to look back – 120 years, to be precise – to where it all began.
In 1893 in Japan, Ishida’s founding owner, Otokichi Ishida, began his family business manufacturing scales, authorised under Japan’s first weight and measurement licence system. In 1972, Ishida invented the world’s first multihead weigher (for green peppers) and in 1985, to serve burgeoning markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the company launched Ishida Europe.
Headquartered in Birmingham in the British Midlands, Ishida Europe – initially established as a distribution centre – began manufacturing in 1995 and now boasts 450 employees and a turnover exceeding £100-million. Current president, Takahide Ishida, is the company’s fifth-generation family owner, overseeing a worldwide group turnover of approximately £637-million, an installed base of 40 000 multihead weighers (90 000 Ishida machines in total) and 2 800 employees.
Pushing new boundaries
Explaining the technology behind the latest multihead weigher was Ishida Europe’s business manager, Ian Atkinson. ‘There are three key elements fortifying the evolution of Ishida’s CCW-RV advanced multihead weigher,’ he pointed out. ‘These are increased speed and accuracy, its robust design for harsh environments and maximised uptime, and simpler, smarter control and interaction via an interface perfect for handheld devices.’
The circular weigher delivers the highest levels of accuracy of any multihead weigher and, in addition to consistent weighing at close to zero giveaway, is now some 15% faster than its predecessor (Ishida’s R series). This is achieved by introducing more responsive radial feeder drives that deliver a faster, smoother product flow.
‘Weigher speed depends on many factors relating to the product and ambient conditions, but we’ve found that a basic 14-head RV model, handling a free-flowing product, comfortably delivers 210 weighments/min,’ Ian told journalists.
He was eager to highlight key technical advances underpinning this increased speed: ‘One reason is the way in which we control the vibratory feeders. Vibration pulses are more consistent – the vibration reaches its point of greatest amplitude faster and cuts off quicker,’ Ian explained. ‘We’ve demonstrated that this actually moves products along the feeders more rapidly. This speeds up weigh-head stabilisation, providing more stable heads and available combinations, even at high speeds,’ he added.
Another important factor is the hopper operation. ‘By optimising and controlling “door” acceleration and deceleration profiles the most effective hopper opening times are achieved. This assists to shake products free and ultimately adds to the overall packing speed.’
As far as accuracy’s concerned, apart from optimised hoppers and more precise feeder control, Ishida has upgraded its software, improved digital filtering and anti-floor vibration and developed multiple combinations using weight compensation. ‘Combined, these reduce give-away, but instead of sacrificing accuracy for speed, we’ve actually improved it,’ Ian maintained.
The RV maintains Ishida’s legendary durability and reliability and its robust construction allows operation in difficult environments. ‘With the focus being on the fresh and frozen fruit and vegetable markets, where cleaning under tough conditions is often necessary, we’ve done a lot of work developing its waterproofing aspect,’ Ian explained.
The multihead weigher’s IP67-rated hygienic design features six-degree sloping self-draining feeder covers and a nine-degree sloping self-draining main body that minimise bacteria traps and allow faster and easier cleaning to increase uptime.
Its improved user interface includes an ultra-fast touch screen for quick, simple setup, as well as remote operation capabilities via wireless access using tablets, androids and smartphones.
Enhanced security features include fingerprint verification access.
Additionally, the latest power management system provides three power modes (full, half and eco), depending on operating conditions. This helps deliver 20% lower power consumption compared to Ishida’s previous market-leading R series.
Adding to Ian’s informative presentation, Steve Jones, Ishida Europe’s general manager – product group marketing, confirmed: ‘With the RV we’ve focused on the benefits that add the most value to our customers’ applications. With easier setup, increased speeds, faster cleaning and enhanced durability, we’re maximising customer uptime and product throughput. This, combined with lower power consumption and reduced operational costs, improves return on investment.’
Flexible tray packaging system
Another recent Ishida launch is a two-lane QX-1100-SDL (split dual lane) tray sealer capable of operating each lane independently and at different speeds. This enables manufacturers/packers to run two separate tray sizes, pack weights or products at the same time.
The QX-1100-SDL is central to Ishida’s recently introduced Flex Line – flexible tray packing system – that enables a variety of individual units (including tray denesters, multihead weighers, fillers, foreign body detection systems, checkweighers, seal testers, label inspection and end-of-line handling modules) to be integrated to meet a company’s precise packing requirements.
Specifically designed for the fresh food industry, it delivers speeds up to 15 cycles/min/lane with MAP, ensuring maximum hygiene and high quality presentation.
Ishida Europe has also introduced an enhanced version of IDCS (Ishida Data Capture System) that records and analyses data from every pack that crosses an Ishida checkweigher.
Concluding a fascinating day of presentations, demonstrations and a factory tour, Ishida Europe’s MD, Graham Clements, took time out to chat to journalists.
Asked about the South African market in particular, Graham commented: ‘We’re delighted with the recent appointment of Jonathan Beattie as general sales manager, responsible for sales and technical support in South Africa (see page 10).
‘Jonathan strengthens Ishida Europe’s presence in South Africa and the rest of the continent. Africa is a good growth area for us,’ Graham added. ‘We have some 20 multihead weighers installed in South Africa – and another five in other African countries (excluding Egypt). The African market is largely focused on snack foods, but we’re also marketing our fresh food technologies in this region,’ he concluded.
[Ed’s note: Ishida’s product portfolio, too vast to detail here, includes multihead weighers, checkweighers, snack packaging systems X-ray inspection systems, tray sealers, intelligent packaging systems, seal testers, data capture software, strip applicators, graders and rotobatcher. Watch PPM for more Ishida news.]