GRANTHAM, UNITED KINGDOM — Earlier this month, Holmach Ltd. partnered with Butcher’s Pet Care to add pouch capabilities to the pet food manufacturer’s existing production lines. The retort cooking solution has allowed Butcher’s Pet Care to incorporate a new packaging option as pouches grow in popularity in the global market.

“The support and advice that we received from Holmach regarding this project was excellent,” said Laurence Dawson, senior projects manager at Butcher’s Pet Care. “Having had previous experience of the technology, which has worked very well for us, we were confident that the line would deliver a good result.”

Holmach’s technology partner, Montelimar, France-based Lagarde, oversaw the installation of two 1400 mm four-basket retort ovens that aim to eliminate distortion. The system, integrated with Butcher’s Pet Care’s existing production line, two 2000 mm retorts and a loading and unloading system from Denmark-based Jorgensen, can produce 500 pouches per minute.

Butcher's Pet Care cat food pouchThe Jorgensen system employs a robotic pick-and-place mechanism to load filled pouches onto retort trays, which are then stacked and transferred to the retort oven. The retort has sliding doors to assist with loading and unloading.

The retorts by Lagarde are designed with patented steam and air processes to facilitate even heat distribution during cooking. Steam is injected directly, and remaining steam and condensation are later reused in the product cooling phase, making the system more efficient, according to Holmach.

After cooking, pouches are transported to a pouch dryer, then loaded into crates for storage. The entire retort system is managed by Lagarde’s HMI system using technology developed by Allen-Bradley.

These combined systems are designed to facilitate multi-packing for Butcher’s Pet Products.

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