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Check out our latest blog posts in our blog section to find more information on products and latest industry news.

The importance of choosing a good weighing equipment supplier

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If you’re in the market for high-quality weighing equipment and instrumentation, it’s vital that you choose the right supplier. When choosing a weighing equipment supplier, make sure you keep an eye out for the following:

Accreditations

One of the most important benefits of choosing a reputable weighing equipment supplier is that they will have a number of accreditations to prove their legitimacy, so you can rest in the knowledge that the equipment you purchase will be of the highest quality. There are a number of accreditations that you should look out for, including a SafeContractor certificate, to show that they are health and safety compliant, if required a certificate from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), and ISO 9001 certificates, to demonstrate their ability to consistently provide services and products that meet regulatory and customer requirements.

Experience

The best weighing equipment suppliers will have extensive experience in their field and will have worked with customers from a variety of different industries, making it more likely that they will have the tools and knowledge required to provide the services that you require. Look for suppliers that have worked with leading companies in industries such as animal nutrition, food and beverage, cash handling and industrial sectors. A reputable weight management company will be able to assist its customers in their respective fields as they evolve, producing systems that stay up-to-date with the needs of the changing marketplace through generic or bespoke software or hardware.

Range of products

Whether you require bench scales, printers, pallet scales, scanners, column scales or any other weighing equipment, a good weighing equipment supplier will have a wide range of products for you to choose from in order to meet the unique demands of your warehouse or production line. If you’re not sure what equipment your business needs, a weighing equipment supplier with many years of experience in the industry will be able to advise you on the best products that will suit your specific requirements. Reputable weighing equipment suppliers will also offer you several other services, such as scale maintenance and scale calibration, to make sure that your weighing scales are as accurate as possible to maintain consistency throughout your production line. If you have any concerns about the products that you’ve chosen or if you simply need advice, it’s also important to select a supplier that has a reliable customer service team to answer any enquiries you might have.

At Stevens Traceability, we specialise in creating the most innovative weighing systems to ensure that you can meet your compliance obligations with ease while reducing waste and product giveaway. We’ve continued to support our customers throughout the coronavirus pandemic, so for more information about our services, get in touch with our team today.

Stevens Traceability Systems Head Office

Average Weight Requirements Explained

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Average weight is a complex topic that can be difficult to understand, so for that reason, we have devised this blog to explain what it is and if it applies to your business.

If you produce and sell packed food products based on weight, it is a legislative requirement to adhere to the Weights and Measures Act enforced by Trading Standards.  The act dictates requirements on units of measurement, specified quantities, packed goods, equipment and records and labelling of packaged goods. Find out more about average weight legislation here.

In this blog, we will focus on packed goods, weighing equipment, and records because this is where our expertise lies.

When selling packaged food products such as rice, meat or soup (based on weight or volume), the product must be packed using the minimum system or the average system.

What is the Minimum System?

Using the minimum system, you can pack the products in accordance with the declared weight on the label, however, the weight of the product can be MORE, but NOT less, than the declared weight using this system. The minimum system is likely to be used in an environment where a low volume of product is produced because each packed product is weighed and checked individually, ensuring it meets the declared weight, however, using this system can result in more giveaway.

What is the Average System?

Using the average system, products must be packed to an average measurement which can be calculated using sampling.

Sampling = a sample of products weighed from a batch. Trading Standards will stipulate the method and frequency of sampling for your business.

When using the Average System, you must also adhere to the Three Packers Rules (explained below).

Manual sampling can be labour intensive, and records must be kept to evidence due diligence. In some instances, an average weight system is used to speed up the process and to eradicate any potential issues caused by human error. In larger manufacturing environments an in-line checkweigher is used to adhere to average weight legislation, which weighs all products within a batch.

Click to view Inline Checkweighers

The Three Packers Rules

Rule 1 – The average weight of a batch must meet or exceed the target (nominal) weight of the batch.

The average weight of products within a batch needs to be the same, or greater, than the declared weight on the packaging (known as the nominal weight).

For this, you need to add up all the weights of the sample products and then divide the total weight by the number of samples, this gives you the average weight of the batch.

Example:  500 grams, 498 grams, 501 grams = 1499 grams divide by 3 = 499 grams (average weight)

Before we explain Rule 2 and 3, you need to understand TNE (Tolerable Negative Error).

What is tolerable negative error?

When weighing packaged food products, they must not be less, on average, than the weight declared on the label.

As per the table below, a small number of packaged products CAN fall below a certain margin of error, the tolerable negative error (TNE), and no package can be underweight by more than twice the TNE.

T1 = 1x the TNE

T2 = 2x the TNE

Source: The Weights and Measures (Packaged Goods) Regulations 2006: Guidance

 

Rule 2 – There must be no more than 2.5% of significantly underweight samples/weights (T1 samples).

The second three packers’ rule stipulates that a batch must not have more than 2.5% (or 1 in 40) T1’s in a batch.

The table above allows you to calculate the TNE based on the nominal (declared) weight of your packed product.

Example. Product A = 800 grams, Tolerable Negative Error (TNE) = 15 grams

Rule 3 – There must be no extremely underweight samples at all (T2 samples).

The third rule stipulates that there must be no underweight (T2) samples in your batch. To calculate your T2, it’s simply your TNE x2. So, in this example = 30 grams.

Putting this into context, here is an example:

In this example, the dots represent individual products from a batch that have been weighed. The nominal weight (declared weight) is 800 grams, therefore the T1 is 785 grams and the T2 is 770 grams.

All the dots in green and yellow are acceptable weights in this batch because they are either over or under the nominal weight, but within the T1 boundary (Rule 1 and 2).

The dot in red is an example of a failed batch because the product is extremely underweight (falling into the T2 category).

In order to satisfy average weight legislation, you must provide evidence that your batches pass the three packers’ rules. This can be done manually by paper or electronically using an average weight system.

What is the e mark?

The e mark printed on product packaging determines that the product is packed to average weight legislation.

Average Weight Records

You must keep records of your sample batches for a minimum of one year based on the date the packet is shipped or the ‘use by’ date, whichever is shorter. These records must show that the Three Packers Rules have been met.

Weighing Equipment

Additionally, you must ensure the equipment you use is suitable to meet Trading Standards’ requirements, for example, a domestic scale would not be suitable, the scale you use must be Trade Approved and stamped accordingly.  Trading Standards will check the weights and measures of your goods on your production line.

Click to view Average Weight System

Stevens Traceability has devised an average weight system giving manufacturers a tool that removes manual paperwork, encompasses the three packers’ rules, and produces electronic reports at the touch of a button. The system enables you to show due diligence when it comes to average weight. Click here for more information or call 01254 685200 to discuss.

UKAS Calibration Explained

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What is UKAS?

UKAS is an abbreviation for United Kingdom Accreditation Service and is the only accredited body that is authorised to assess the competence and ability of organisations who provide certification for testing, inspection and calibration services.

UKAS approved organisations like Stevens Traceability must undergo a long and tough process to become accredited, this includes having management, policies, and processes in place, together with passing an assessment of competence. The reason for such a strict assessment process is to ensure that UKAS accredited bodies provide customers with a high level of service with the assurance of best practice.

What does UKAS cover?

UKAS accreditation covers a broad range of calibration activities including:

  • Temperature and Humidity
  • Pressure, Vacuum, and Flow
  • Optical
  • Electrical Calibration
  • Radiological Calibration
  • Accelerometry
  • Magnetics
  • Acoustics
  • Density
  • Dimensional
  • Force
  • Hardness
  • Mass
  • Volume
  • Torque

At Stevens Traceability we specialise in calibration of non-automatic weighing machines.

Why have UKAS calibration?

Achieve compliance, cost savings, and quality

Carrying out UKAS Calibration determines measurement equipment performance as part of a robust quality control system. With routine equipment UKAS calibration and adjustment, you can measure safely, ensure compliance and avoid the costs of inaccurate measurements.

Why UKAS?

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the only authorised body that can assess a company’s compliance to ISO17025:2017 and award accreditation status.  ISO17025 is the international standard that defines what is required of a laboratory to demonstrate the technical competence of its personnel.  It also requires the availability of all technical resources necessary to produce reliable data and results for a defined set of tests, measurements or calibrations.

The key benefits are:

  • Organisations can save time and money by selecting an accredited and therefore a competent supplier.
  • Accredited organisations carry out reliable measurements, tests, and inspections in accordance with best practices in or to limit product failure and reduce downtime and control manufacturing costs.
  • Accreditation to internationally-recognised standards can provide a competitive advantage and facilitate access to export markets within the EU and beyond. (see international system)
  • Using an accredited body to carry out an independent evaluation helps demonstrate due diligence in the event of legal action.

Stevens Traceability provides nationwide UKAS and BSI accredited on-site service and support including standard and UKAS calibrations. If you’d like to discuss your calibration needs, please get in touch with our service team on 01254 685200.

Introducing a quality management system into your bakery

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Introducing a quality management system into your bakery can be a daunting task and understanding whether the investment would be worthwhile is a conundrum that many bakers face. In this blog, we present you with relevant information to help with your research into quality management systems for your bakery.

What is a quality management system?

A quality management system (QMS) is a collection of business processes focused on consistently meeting customer requirements and enhancing their satisfaction. (Wikipedia) It is generally driven by the business’ strategy and includes the business’ goals and aspirations and includes policies, processes, documented information, and resources, needed to implement and maintain the system.  

Why is a quality management system needed?

Quality management systems allow bakeries to ensure food safety and quality products from their production facility, as well as prevent liability claims and build and maintain customer trust whether that be with consumers or outlets who resell your products.

One size does not fit all

When it comes to quality management systems there is not a one size fits all system. Within the bakery sector, there are different ways of managing food production quality, which is outlined below:
  • HACCP
HACCP uses a systematic approach to guarantee the production of safe food. This includes the identification, evaluation, and control of the steps in food production which are critical to food safety.
  • ISO9000
In brief, ISO 9000 aims to achieve uniformity in products and consists of a managerial checklist.
  • BRC
BRC (British Retail Consortium) aims to guarantee product quality and food safety through a set of technical standards. It combines HACCP principles plus parts of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice). This is a very brief overview and each standard should be reviewed individually. Bakeries should review which best practice standard is most suited to their business and implement a system accordingly.

Reasons to implement a quality management system

Despite investment being needed to implement a quality system into your bakery, there are many reasons to implement one in your business.
  • Stock Management
  • Produce consistent products
  • Reduce potential errors and wastage
  • Improve efficiencies
  • Automate processes
  • Compliance/Show due diligence to customers and auditors
  • Improved documentation/availability of documents
  • Quicker audit preparation for BRC/SALSA
There are a number of quality systems available and bakeries should review them and decide which system most suits their business needs.

What does Stevens offer?

Stevens Traceability provides paperless traceability systems for bakeries covering every aspect of the production process from stock management to finished products and despatch. Using our renowned software and weighing equipment, bakeries have complete control of their quality processes, as well as benefit from an automated production process that enables quick reports for audits from independent customers and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) or SALSA. Stevens Dynamic Traceability System can be integrated with many back-office systems including Sage, SAP, Tropos, Access, Navision and many more. Call us today on 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com to find out more.  
Food Waste

Food Manufacturers Waste: The Problems and the Solutions

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Waste and waste management has been an extremely topical subject for many years across the globe, with food waste receiving further attention more recently in the UK from the Government and high-profile media campaigns such as “War on Waste” led by professional chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. His mission, which was aired on the BBC, was to change the way we think about waste by challenging the supermarkets and fast food industry to drastically reduce the amount of waste they generate.

However, it’s not only the supermarkets and fast food industry who produce food waste, but food manufacturers also account for 1.7 million tonnes of waste each year, costing the food manufacturing sector £1.2 billion per year.

Implications of food waste

So why is food waste a concern? Food waste has economic, environmental and social impacts; Greenhouse gas emissions are produced when food is decomposing on landfill, as well as when it’s transported. These greenhouse gases have a global impact on temperature and weather systems, with the ‘greenhouse effect’ resulting in global warming.

Landfill

Causes of food waste

Food wastage from manufacturers can occur at any point during the food manufacturing process. For example, at pre-production, there could be inaccurate forecasting of raw materials which may not get used fully and leftovers go to waste.

During production, waste can happen through spillage, spoilage, even plant shutdowns and washes. Ingredient waste can also occur during the food production process from peeling, washing, slicing and even boiling.

According to WRAP.org.uk, 9% of waste in the ready meals and chilled products sector is caused by machine mishandling, and 3.5% of products are rejected for poor production such as under or over baking, or under or overweight.

Cancellation of orders, packaging, and end of sell-by-date products are also a cause of food waste.

food-waste-example

Reducing food waste

It’s not only important to reduce food waste for the good of the environment and economy, but waste can also have a huge impact on the bottom line for food manufacturers.

Here are a few tips which can help waste management;

  • Form good relationships with your supply chain – so you can return ingredients to them if they won’t be used (if your supplier agrees to do this)
  • Forecast for accuracy – order the right amount of raw materials for production so that left-over goods don’t go to waste
  • Increase re-work – re-use waste product where possible
  • Use cutoffs – to create a new product and maximise ingredients
  • Regularly check machines – walk the line regularly to ensure machinery is working properly

Stevens Waste Management

The tips above are just a few ways to reduce waste in the food processing industry, however, Stevens Traceability has a waste management system which is proven to reduce product giveaway, wastage and conform to traceability audits and average weight regulations.

By having full traceability of raw ingredients from goods in, throughout the production process and through to waste, the Stevens system provides reports so that you can improve performance, make production more efficient and reduce the costs of materials, labour, and energy.

What’s more, you can ensure collections of waste are scheduled in line with actual waste on-site, reducing unnecessary collections, further helping the environment and reducing waste collection costs.

If you’re looking for, or would like more information about a traceability or waste management solution, please get in touch with our expert team today on 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com

New Partnership Strengthens End-to-End Compliance & Maintenance Solution for Manufacturers

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Stevens Traceability Systems Limited are pleased to announce their strategic partnership with leading instrumentation maintenance and management company, Envogen UK Limited.

Having provided weighing and traceability solutions to manufacturers operating in the food and beverage, industrial, waste and logistics sectors for over 100 years, we know how important it is for manufacturers to comply with industry regulations.

This extensive experience has also allowed us to fully understand the importance of ensuring that production is at full capacity for maximum profitability, and it’s for this reason that we have appointed Envogen UK Limited as a strategic partner to support our service offering.

WHAT THIS PARTNERSHIP MEANS FOR MANUFACTURERS

Working with Envogen UK Limited, allows Stevens Traceability to not only ensure that manufacturers comply with the ever-increasing regulations when it comes to product safety, employee safety and disposal of waste procedures using our award-winning modular software and weighing equipment. It also enables us to extend our current service provision to weighing equipment and associated assets, to include Instrumentation calibration services.

INSTRUMENT & CONTROL: ON-SITE CALIBRATION & REPAIRS BY ENVOGEN UK LIMITED

ON-SITE CALIBRATION SERVICES

Envogen provides a comprehensive, cost-effective range of on-site service that includes calibration, preventative maintenance, planned shutdown work, installation, and commissioning.

Service is available for all forms of measurement, including;

  • Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Level
  • Flow
  • Ph
  • Conductivity
  • All other electrical equipment

They certify the instrumentation within the client’s plant, allowing them to demonstrate compliance with their Regulatory Authority, British Standard, FSA, FDA, International Standard or other Governing bodies.

These services are supported by an in-house repair service, to all of the above instruments and they are able to supply replacement instrumentation at competitive prices.

BENEFITS FOR MANUFACTURERS

  • Maximum output
  • Maximum profitability
  • Improved production processes
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Reduced number of suppliers to site
  • Reduced number of invoices to process
  • Standardised calibrations, rather than every month of the year
  • Increased management control
  • Cost savings

Mike Wynburg, Director at Stevens Traceability Systems Limited said:

“We’re extremely pleased to work in partnership with Envogen so that we can provide customers with further servicing options. Supporting our clients is central to all that we do, and formulating partnerships with key experts in maintenance and servicing is something which we will be growing at Stevens Traceability.”

Dave Sumpter, Director, Envogen UK Limited added:

“Excited by the prospect of working alongside a leading supplier of weighing and traceability services.”

If you’re looking for a traceability solution, servicing or weighing equipment for your manufacturing facility, please get in touch with our expert team today on 01254 685200 or email info@stevenstraceability.com

The Rise of Artisan Bakeries

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The Rise of Artisan Bakers

The launch of The Great British Bake Off in 2010 ignited the nation’s passion for baking. People of all ages and baking experience have attempted the signature dishes, showstoppers and technical tests at one time or another; all no doubt with varying degrees of success. Junior Bake Off, the spin-off series, saw future artisan bakers take to our screens with the aim of impressing the judges with their flaky pastry and gingerbread houses.

Not only did we see the British public tune into the programme in their millions, viewers took to the Supermarkets in their droves. Sainsburys for example, saw sales of orange jelly increase by 150% overnight when the contestants were tasked with making Jaffa Cakes (1) in 2016. The show is also credited by many as being integral to the rise of Artisan Bakeries and their increase in popularity among the British public.

INDEPENDENT BAKERIES

The independent bakery sector has enjoyed years of growth thanks to the likes of Paul Hollywood and Lorraine Pascale championing the art to the masses. The word ‘Artisan’ typically signifies care, expertise and quality of ingredients. There are currently no official restrictions on who can use these terms, so it’s always worth finding out the story behind the label.

For example, Macleans Bakery in Forres, Inverness, Scotland, are a Stevens Traceability client. They are fourth generation family bakers and have held the title of Scottish Master Bakers. A family-run company, they produce traditional shortbreads, sweet biscuits and oatcakes from recipes handed down through the generations. In the 100 years they have been baking, the team at Macleans Bakery have witnessed many changes in their industry, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of ingredients, quality of finished product and eating quality and flavour.

COELIAC DISEASE AND FOOD ALLERGIES

As a nation we have a fondness of bread which spans thousands of years, however in recent years an increase in coeliac disease (gluten intolerance) and food allergies in general, has seen consumers taking more of an interest in what is in their food.

This has provided independent bakeries with an opportunity to bake products which meet the needs of niche markets. Independent bakeries are typically in a better position than the national bakeries to respond quickly to a change in consumer tastes by removing or reducing the ingredients typically associated with intolerances and allergies i.e. yeast and additives. The introduction of sourdough into the baking process has enabled bakeries to continue offering products to this marketplace.

THE IMPORTANCE OF RECIPE TRACEABILITY IN BAKERIES

Nowadays, consumers are not afraid to ask for the details when it comes to ingredients. They are also more demanding as far as product consistency goes. They want the same taste and same size of product each time; regardless of whether they are buying from an independent bakery or Supermarket.

This is where recipe traceability plays a part. Many independent bakeries still take a manual approach to the weighing of ingredients which is typically down to the costs of introducing automation into the process.

At Stevens Traceability our Essentials™ Modular Software has been designed specifically for smaller, independent bakeries. Our system supports you in delivering on product consistency and traceability of ingredients leading to a reduction in costly giveaway.

Introducing automation into the baking process, ensures you can deliver what the customer wants; namely consistency of product and quality. In addition, your bakery benefits from increased productivity and visibility of the entire operation. Introducing the Essentials™ Modular Software into your production process, reduces the amount of manual labour from the process, provides statistics of the batch, manages product giveaway, ensures consistency. All of the previously mentioned gives you the time to focus on developing new products and most importantly growing your business.

FIND OUT MORE

For more information on the Essentials™ Modular Software, please call Lauren on: 01254 685200 or email: lauren.smith@stevenstraceability.com

INTERESTING FACTS

  • As a nation of bread lovers, we purchase over 3,500,000,000 sandwiches each year (2) – this reaches 12,000,000,000 if you count the ones you make yourself (3)!
  • Artisan bread is easier to digest than mass-produced bread, because the enzymes have had time to begin breaking down the gluten in the flour while fermenting. And you can take time to savour it too – as a rule of thumb, the longer the production process, the longer its shelf life will be (4).
  • Sugar keeps everything together when baking (5). Aside from sweetening the baked goods, its role is to bind the water, meaning it attracts water and keeps it from the other ingredients.
  • A rolled-up piece of white bread was used to erase graphite before rubber erasers were invented (6).