KiMs, one of Scandinavia’s leading snack food producers, continually strives for efficiency improvements. It relies on “lean production,” a manufacturing philosophy that considers the expenditure of resources on anything other than increasing value for the customer to be wasteful and therefore a target for elimination.
Quality assurance testing
KiMs lean manager, Flemming Carlsen, is tasked with reviewing ways to improve efficiency and add value for the customer. One of the first areas that Carlsen looked at was the quality-assurance testing on the modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) line at KiMs factory in central Denmark. The plant is located in Søndersø and employs 230 people. Metalized film is used to create the snack packages and a high proportion of them are flushed with nitrogen—an inert gas that keeps them fresh for longer and improves their shelf life.
To ensure that the packages contain only nitrogen, workers periodically remove packages and insert a needle to test the gas composition. If the gas content is found to be outside established limits—if some oxygen has entered the package, for example—manual adjustments are then made to the packaging line’s gas inlet system.
“We were doing a lot of manual checks and destructive analysis,” says Carlsen. “Each time you test a package with a needle you waste time as well as packaging materials, and you have to rework the product. It is important that we focus to create value for the customer—all these quality checks are not what the customer wants to pay for. The customer just wants the right quality every time, and the system we were using was not a solution.”
Investment in on-line gas analyzers
Carlsen decided to invest in Dansensor’s new MAP Check 3 on-line gas analyzers on three of the plant’s MAP lines. Dansensor is a MOCON company based in Ringsted, Denmark, with a global reputation in gas-sensor technology.
Dansensor’s MAP Check 3 monitors the gas mixture entering each individual package and allows real-time control of package flushing with its advanced GasSave function. GasSave automatically adjusts the gas flow so that the right level is achieved and gas is not wasted. This eliminates operator guesswork. All gas level data is stored, which assists audits and tracking in case of a query.
Significant gas, labor savings realized
After more than a year of running the machines, KiMs has reduced its gas consumption by a significant 20-2%.
“We have reduced the time needed for manual checks and gas adjustment, and the time needed for re-working samples,” Carlsen says. “We have also reduced metalized film waste, and have cut down on the time needed to track back any problems. The system is very good for traceability. If we have a query, we can easily see what the gas level was at the time any problem occurred.”
The company was also able to significantly reduce labor costs for this function.
“We still do some manual testing,” says Carlsen. “But whereas previously we did hourly tests, now we test when starting up a new production and then every four hours. This allows our workers to use their time more productively.”
Carlsen’s team also benefits from the MAP Check 3’s user-friendliness. “It is very easy to use,” he says. “The operators just need 15 minutes of instruction to use the equipment. For the technical people, after one hour of training, they are able to create and change programs and understand the various parameters that can be altered. Additionally, the system’s ability to gather, store and analyze data makes it simple for the quality department to understand and operate.”
KiMs has more than 20 years of product development experience in private-label snack foods. The company manufactures products for leading international chains.
KiMs is owned 100% by Orkla and is part of the Chips Group. Orkla is Norway’s largest public limited company with a turnover of 7 billion euros.
As the Chips Group’s export company, KiMs is responsible for all sales in Western and Central Europe. In Denmark, KiMs has a market share of approximately 50%, or five times that of its closest competitor. See http://www.kims.dk/en/home for more information.
Dansensor, a MOCON company, is a global provider of innovative gas-sensor technology for the food-packaging industry. See www.dansensor.com for more information.
MOCON is a leading provider of instrumentation and consulting and laboratory services to medical, pharmaceutical, food and other industries worldwide. See www.mocon.com for more information.