BERKEL-ENSCHOT, NETHERLANDS — Wet pet food producers using retort cooking systems can now benefit from Lan Handling Technologies’ new simulation tool, launched this month and designed to help manufacturers troubleshoot potential scenarios, processing layouts, bottlenecks and capacity issues.

“Over the past year, we spoke with many pet food companies that, partly under the influence of COVID-19, were considering the switch to automation,” said Thijs van Gerven, sales manager for Lan Handling. “We noticed a common thread in the questions asked: How to combine batch retort loading with a continuous product flow? How to create flexibility in a production line, for example if a retort suddenly needs maintenance? And what is the maximum capacity of a certain lay-out? That is why we decided to develop an easy-to-use simulation tool to increase the understanding of automated retort handling.”

Lan Handling’s simulation tool was created to address these questions. The web-based tool can be found on the company’s website.

The tool offers insights based on product type — pouches or tubs versus cans or jars — as well as additional product specification details. The tool allows processors to walk through common situations including capacity increases, out-of-sync filling machines and retort failure, identify possible production bottlenecks, view layouts for optimal product flows, and how operators play into these scenarios safely and efficiently.

“You can imagine that from here we investigate the step of also testing prototypes of lines in this way and afterwards using it as a training tool for the local staff,” Gerven said.

Lan Handling collaborated with Unit040 to offer this simulation tool on its PREspective platform.

In November 2020, Lan Handling Technologies launched an automated in-line pouch and semi-rigid product drying solution for retort processes, which helps to eliminate residual water after cooking.

Overall, the company offers automated end-of-line solutions and product handling solutions for the pet food processing industry, among others.

Read more about suppliers in the pet food market.