With over 30 years in the market, Butcher’s Pet Care has established itself as an international brand, offering high meat content, gluten-free pet food, made with 99% natural ingredients. As one of the leading pet food manufacturers in Europe, when looking to introduce pouches to its existing lines, naturally they approached Holmach for its expertise. 

Over 45 years, Holmach has been at the forefront of retorting technology. Their technology partner Lagarde of Montelimar, France is the world’s leading provider of pouch retorts and are the “go to” choice for major pet food brands. Holmach recently managed the installation of two 1400mm 4-basket Lagarde retorts to handle plastic pots, with the elimination of distortion being a key advantage.

This, combined with the success of the initial line, led to the purchase of an automated in-line system capable of handling 500 pouches per minute, combining two Lagarde 2000mm retorts with a Jorgensen of Denmark loading and unloading system.

With three UK installations in the last 15 months, Jorgensen are leading the technology race for robotic design and MES System compliance. In this case, a robotic pick and place system, combining ABB robots, is used to load filled pouches into the retort trays. These are then stacked and conveyed to an infeed shuttle system where vertical sliding retort doors allow for seamless loading and unloading.

Laurence Dawson, Senior Projects Manager at Butcher’s said of the system: “The support and advice that we received from Holmach regarding this project was excellent. 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.”

Lagarde’s patented steam and air process ensures an even heat distribution so that each pouch is gently steamed to reach and hold the specified temperature with accurate F0 control, resulting in higher quality, consistent, pet nutrition. Due to direct steam injection, there is no water to heat, so the system is also more energy efficient than other retorting processes.

Steam and condensation are collected and recycled for the programme’s cooling phase. The entire process 

is fully controlled using Lagarde’s HMI system, based on Allen-Bradley technology. Once sterilised, the baskets are removed from the retorts where the stacks are tilted to remove excess water. The pouches are then unloaded and placed on to a conveyer, leading to a pouch drying machine, to ensure no water is carried through to the packaging process. Robotic spiders pick and load the pouches into plastic crates for intermediate storage. As most retail packs are made up of a variety of flavours, the whole system has been designed to facilitate the multi-packing operation.

For more information and immediate enquiries contact the team on 01780 749 097 or connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn by searching ‘Holmach Ltd’.