We are an industrial holding company with steady growth, which originates from acquisitions as well as the organic development of our group companies.
Entrepreneurs with long track record
We started building VTC from the mid 1990ies. At that time we were one of the first private equity firms in Germany, investing external capital mostly from high net worth individuals. Since 2004 we are able to live our dream: by investing our own equity, we became entrepreneurs ourselves. This allows us to take a long view concerning VTC and its group companies. Unlike a private equity investor, we have no exit focus.
Holding with added value
As sparring partners for the top management of our group companies we provide support in strategic discussions or selected projects. Our group companies are fully independent of each other, and the holding does not provide any central functions for the group. We emphasize the importance of flexibility and quick decision making.
Our strong experience and solid financial background (our holding is fully equity financed) makes us a trusted partner for corporates or entrepreneurs in divestment processes. Due to our lean structure we can take quick decisions and offer flexible deal structures. Being entrepreneurs ourselves helps us to understand the motivation and emotions of private sellers.
Strong corporate values
Our team has grown organically over the last 20 years. The resulting company culture is based on strong values, which we carry into our group companies. We rate the long term impact of our actions higher than short term financial results. An investment in a company is also a commitment from our side towards customers, employees and financing partners.
Philipp Härtel is with VTC since 2020. He works on current transactions and is screening potential investment opportunities and markets.
Before joining VTC he worked in the M&A team of Harris Williams in Frankfurt, where he was involved in buyside and sell side mandates. Moreover, he gained previous experience at Gimv, KPMG and ING Corporate Finance.
Philipp holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Econometrics and Operations Research from Maastricht University as well as a Master of Science degree with focus on Corporate Finance from the Rotterdam School of Management.
In the early years of VTC Jürgen worked on a number of industry roll ups and held management positions in portfolio companies. Since then he has responsible for many transactions and gained broad experience in the industrials and renewables space. Jürgen is in charge of Baettr Holding GmbH.
Before his time at university he worked as a trainee for HypoVereinsbank AG in Munich. He is an active shareholder in the Leuze family business.
Jürgen holds a business degree (lic.oec.HSG) from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Stefan has overseen a number of VTC‘s transactions in Germany and Switzerland, mostly in the mechanical and plant engineering businesses. He is in charge of Sesotec GmbH and JK Group.
Before joining VTC Stefan was partner in a turnaround consulting firm where he also took on interim management positions. He started his career as a trainee at HypoVereinsbank AG and later worked for Bain & Company in Munich and London.
Stefan serves as a board member of the Leuze Group.
He has a business degree from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich.
Sara joined VTC in 2021. She is responsible for Human Resource Management and is involved in the support of the group companies.
Before joining VTC Sara worked for Eversheds Sutherland in Munich, where she was responsible for all HR issues of the Practice Groups Litigation & Dispute Management and Employment Law. During this time she supported the firm in the context of various restructurings in all HR-related topics.
Sara holds a Bachelor of Laws degree with a focus on Human Resource Management from the FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management, Munich.
Julius joined VTC in 2015. He works on transactions as well as portfolio management tasks.
From 2011 to 2014 he worked for GCA Altium and was involved in numerous buy side and sell side mandates, mainly in consumer goods and retail. In addition he was able to gain in-depth capital markets know how.
Julius holds Bachelor and Master of Science in International Business degrees from Maastricht University, Netherlands.
Richard G. Ramsauer
During his time at VTC Richard was responsible for a number of transactions in the industrials, infrastructure and electronics space. He manages VTC’s interests in FRIWO AG. He is also in charge of public relations at VTC.
Before joining VTC Richard worked for Bain & Company as a project manager in the Munich and Stockholm offices. During his time at Bain he focused on strategy work and efficiency programs in the industrials and commodities sectors. Richard also spends some time on his forestry estate in Austria.
Richard is an Austrian citizen and holds a business degree from the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland and an MBA from the University of Chicago, USA.
Dr. Thomas Robl
Before co-founding VTC in 1992 Thomas had worked for IMM Industrie Management München, back then one of the first private equity firms in Germany.
During his time at VTC Thomas applied his long experience at numerous transactions. In the early years of VTC he initiated and implemented a number of industry roll-ups and took on executive positions in portfolio companies. Thomas co-founded one of the leading German private equity fund-of-funds and today is a member of the company’s supervisory board.
Thomas holds a PhD (Dr.rer.nat.) in physics from the Technische Universität Munich and an INSEAD MBA, France.
Dr. Ulrich Wolfrum
Since 2000 Ulrich has worked on numerous transactions at VTC. In addition he chaired strategic projects and add-on acquisitions at portfolio companies. He is responsible for deal sourcing at VTC and is the contact person for investment banks and M&A advisors.
Ulrich started his career at A.T. Kearney in Munich and Dusseldorf. There he focused on efficiency programs and strategy development in the consumer goods, retail and energy sectors, where he could apply the experiences from his family business.
Ulrich holds a business degree and a PhD in business from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.
Baettr is a leading component supplier for the wind industry. The company is specialized in the serial production of large cast products for on- and off-shore markets incl. CNC-machining, metal finishing as well as subassembly offerings according to customer specifications. The international footprint with three foundries, two machining and two surface treatment facilities in Europe and Asia is ideally positioned to serve its customers worldwide.
FRIWO AG is an internationally operating systems provider developing, producing and marketing high-performance, high-quality hard- and software solutions along the electrical drive train. FRIWO’s main market segments are e-mobility, household appliances and tools, medical equipment and industrial applications. Based on a global manufacturing and sourcing footprint, FRIWO is able to deliver leading edge technology at highly competitive prices.
JK Group is a worldwide leading manufacturer of devices for the tanning, fitness, and beauty industry. At the Company’s headquarter in Windhagen (Germany), JK develops and produces devices under the brand names “Ergoline”, “Beauty Angel”, “Sun Angel” and “Wellsystem”. The fields of application include cosmetic tanning, red light and near infrared applications for skin care as well as dry water massage.
Sesotec develops and manufactures machines and systems for the detection and separation of contaminants, for product inspection and for the sorting of material flows. Product sales primarily focus on the global food, plastics, pharmaceutical, wood, textile, and recycling industries. Sesotec’s global market leadership is based on a high competence in a wide range of technologies. The leading facility for design, development and manufacturing is located in Germany. Sesotec’s export quota amounts to over 50%.
We are constantly looking for new investments for further growth. Due to our lean decision making processes any new investment opportunity will be analyzed quickly by our team. We have earned a reputation for finding creative solutions suited for every new transaction. Since we invest our own money, we think long term and do not focus on exit strategies.
We are looking for companies which fulfill the following criteria:
We have no sector focus. In the past we have done transactions in manufacturing, services and wholesale.
Our group companies range from EUR 75m to EUR 240m in sales. Even with substantial growth potential investments should have revenues of at least EUR 10m.
We also look for add on acquisitions for our portfolio companies which can be smaller.
Investment amount and regional focus:
We are looking for majority stakes but will also consider a qualified minority. We invest equity tickets of up to EUR 50m per deal, in case of larger transactions we would work with a partner.
Our regional focus lies on Germany, and neighbouring countries.
E-Book: Food Safety - What food processors need to know
As the world population grows and global living standards rise, the food industry is confronted with a number of challenges and opportunities. Expectations are higher than ever. Food products must not only taste good, but must also fulfil demanding requirements for safety, quality, and availability. In order to adequately meet these demands, food production is reliant on new technologies, automation, and digitalization.
Improved food safety is one of the crowning achievements of the modern food industry. Comprehensive quality management systems make it possible to uphold the strictest food safety standards at all times. Through risk analyses and systematic controls, food industry businesses take seriously their responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of their products.
Industrial food production also faces issues of resource scarcity. Sustainable managementsolutions will be key to the long-term economic success of food industry businesses. Losses in the production process involve costs and waste, presenting problems with both economic and ethical consequences.
Last but not least, the food industry is among the most regulated industries in the world. Manufacturers and processors must comply with a multitude of laws, rules, regulations, ordinances, and guidelines in order to produce and market foods in different regions.
This e-book is meant to offer a comprehensive overview of the varying and influential factors shaping the future of food manufacturing and processing. We hope you find many valuable and interesting pieces of information inside.
Recycling rate, recyclate content and the impact on the plastics industry
What is meant by recycling rate?
The recycling rate is the percentage of recyclable materials actually recycled from waste. A distinction is made here between secondary components (complete, recyclable components) and secondary raw materials. However, the exact reference figures used to calculate the recycling rate are as varied as they are controversial. This is because the recycling rate is often equated with the recovery rate. However, while the latter also includes the energetic recovery of valuable materials from waste - i.e. energy recovery through incineration and thus a waste of resources - the recycling rate excludes this type of recovery.
The Waste Management Act (Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz – KrWG) defines recycling in Article 3 (25) as “any recovery operation by which waste is reprocessed into products, materials or substances either for the original purpose or for other purposes”. It also states that recycling excludes “energy recovery and reprocessing into materials intended for use as fuel or for backfilling” (23a).
According to the study Plastics Material Flow Diagram in Germany 2019, 99.4% of the total 6.3 million tons of plastic waste in this country is recovered, but only 47% is recycled. In fact, only 33% of plastic waste from private households is recycled. The reason for this discrepancy is that plastics in industry are mostly clean and sorted by type, but in households they are heavily mixed.
Among other things, the proper separation of waste by consumers is important here, because mixed waste is difficult to recycle. The better it is separated at home, the easier it is for different types of packaging to be sorted in the plants and consequently recycled.
EU Waste Framework Directive
In order to increase the recycling rate for municipal waste, the EU Waste Framework Directive of 2008 was strengthened again in 2018. While the original directive stipulated a recycling rate of 50% for certain materials for each country by 2020, the amended Waste Framework Directive (Directive (EU) 2018/851) stipulates 55% by 2025, 60% by 2030 and even 65% by 2035. The calculation of the recycling rate has also changed with the new EU requirements. Up to then, the EU member states used “input calculations” as their guideline. This means that what is recycled from a collection system is counted. In the future, output-oriented quotas will apply throughout the EU. This means that only waste that is actually recycled will be counted as recycled.To ensure uniform application of the calculation rules, the EU Commission has defined specific calculation and measurement points for the most common wastes and recycling processes.
How has the recycling rate for plastics developed in recent years?
In 2019, 6.28 million tons of plastic waste were generated in Germany. Around 85.2% of this waste was generated after use (“post-consumer waste”). The remaining 14.8% was generated during the production and, above all, the processing of plastics. That sounds like a lot of recycled material. But far from it. As shown in the Plastic Atlas published by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2019, 60% of our plastic waste is “combusted with energy recovery”. The nearly 40 percent remaining is recycled.
Development of plastic packaging recycling
According to IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V., there has been a clear positive trend in the recycling rates of plastic packaging since the German Packaging Act came into force in 2019. According to a study conducted by GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung, they rose by 12.3% in the sector of end consumer use in 2019. As a result, in 2019 plastic packaging rates total 55.2%, based on the overall market. Thus, according to the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR), the very ambitious statutory recycling rate of 58.5% was nearly achieved.
At the same time, Schmidt emphasized that the circular economy must now continue to pick up speed and that it is now a matter of strengthening the financial incentives for recyclable packaging design so that investments in new packaging designs also pay off for everyone. A renewed review of the Packaging Act is planned for 2022.
What is meant by recyclates?
The term “recyclate” is primarily used in the plastics industry and is synonymous with reprocessed plastic waste. Recyclates are obtained by means of different reprocessing methods depending on the condition of the plastic waste being recycled. Plastic recyclates are generally divided into two categories: “post-industrial recyclates” and “post-consumer recyclates”.
Post-industrial recyclates are obtained from industrial waste that is generated as rejects during the production process. In most cases, they are of a single type and can therefore be crushed and recycled with the help of special plastic mills without any major sorting or cleaning effort. Post-industrial recyclates are of particularly high quality due to their clean starting material and are therefore preferred by many companies. And yet there are areas of application, such as food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, in which even the single-variety post-industrial recyclates may not be used, or may only be used to a limited extent, due to the most stringent requirements for product safety and hygiene.
These recyclates are recovered from end consumer waste, i.e. the yellow sack or garbage can used in Germany. Post-consumer waste is collected, sorted by type of plastic (PP, PE, PS), shredded, washed and then melted into plastic granulate. Since the yellow sack contains packaging mixed from a wide variety of plastic types, processing it into high-quality recyclate is more demanding and requires state-of-the-art recycling and sorting facilities.
Development of recyclate content and the consequences for the plastics industry
Recyclates are becoming increasingly important as a raw material for new plastic products. This was also demonstrated by the Plastics Material Flow Diagram in Germany published in 2019. In 2019, 13.7% of the total volume of plastics processed was covered by recyclates. Since the last survey in 2017, the volume of recyclates has increased by around 5% per year. However, there is still considerable room for improvement in the use of recyclates.
However, the quality and safety of products must under no circumstances be compromised by the use of recyclates. According to the IK, optimized waste separation by consumers plays a key role on the one hand, while on the other hand investments in high-tech sorting and high-quality processing are needed to cope with the required volumes and to sort them optimally. Only through the smooth interaction of all parties involved – from consumers and recyclers to manufacturers and processors – can a stable market for recyclates be established in the long term.
Challenge for recyclers, manufacturers and processors of plastic
The increasing demands on recyclate quantity and quality are not only increasing the pressure on recyclers to produce more single-variety material. Manufacturers and processors must also use more recyclate in order to be able to meet customer demands and legal requirements in the future. On the one hand, some machines have to be retrofitted in order to be able to process more materials, and on the other hand, state-of-the-art material analysis systems, sorting equipment and metal separators are required in order to be able to handle lower-grade qualities and reliably remove any impurities.
The terms recycling rate and recyclate content are often used synonymously but have different meanings. While the recycling rate represents the proportion of waste that is recycled, recyclate content is the proportion of secondary raw materials that are incorporated into new products. Both recycling rate and recyclate content are important factors for a functioning circular economy.
However, the recycling rate is difficult to track. Up to now, everything that goes from a sorting plant to recycling has been calculated. Losses in the recycling process, such as the incineration of impurities, have so far been included in the official quota. However, the recycling rate directly determines the availability of secondary raw materials. The more material is recycled, the more material is available for the production of recyclate. To get the cycle going, the recycling rate and thus the use of recyclates in the manufacture of new products must be significantly increased. This requires both further political action and the willingness of everyone involved, whether consumers, recyclers, manufacturers or processors, to make their contribution and pull together.
New E-Book: The Circular Economy - Challenges and opportunities for Recyclers and plastics processors
In this comprehensive e-book, you will gain insight into the most important factors of the Circular Economy. In particular, we look at the goal of creating a circular economy that must be profitable not only for people and the environment but also for recyclers, plastics manufacturers and processors.
Product purity for chemical products through precise quality control
The problem: Strictest quality requirements in the chemical industry
The quality requirements of the chemical industry are particularly high. As a service provider to this industry, Schirm GmbH rises to the challenge and attaches great importance to quality, transparency, reliability, resource conservation, and the protection and safety of people and
Metal detectors play an essential role in the refinement of solids to ensure a consistently high product quality and safety. At the same time, the customers expect quick setup times to achieve high flexibility and efficiency. A compact design due to place limitation and the
use in an ATEX 20 zone were additional requirements of the project.
The solution: purest chemical products through multi-stage and precise metal detection.
The metal separator RAPID PRO-SENSE with control unit GENIUS+ offers extremely high sensitivity by the specially developed innovative HRF technology (High Resolution Frequency). The detection signal is sent and evaluated at a special frequency. In addition to
ferrous and non-ferrous metals, RAPID PRO-SENSE detects and separates small particles of non-magnetic stainless steel.
The control unit GENIUS+ with touchscreen facilitates quality control, as the data can be saved in a USB stick for further processing. In addition, the modular device concept offers flexibility and facilitate a customized adjustment to customer and material specific requirements,
e.g. a rotating reject outlet in case of limited space as well as a quick assembly with low effort using standard Jacob System connections.
The metal separator RAPID PRO-SENSE with round reject mechanism without dead corners, is mainly used for outgoing quality control in the production of powder and sensitive materials with high demands on cleaning and frequent material changes.
All in all, the RAPID PRO-SENSE convinces with high performance, easy cleaning and flexible installation options.
In order to increase product quality, a combination with the inline magnetic separator MAGBOX FOOD was recommended. Due to the extremely high forces of the neodymium magnet material, it is possible to separate even iron dust and weakly magnetized stainless steel particles
from the production stream. Magnetic separator,which are placed upstream a inductive metal separator, sort ferrous metals out and thus relieve the inductive separation.
The customer benefit: Schirm delivers the highest quality
As a flexible and experienced production service provider, Schirm is continuously developing its range of services in line with the tasks at hand. With the uncomplicated installation of the combination metal detector and magnet, Schirm GmbH achieves purest products with the
greatest added value for the customers.
It should also be noted that the technical features of the metal separator and the magnet system as well as the close cooperation between the project partners Sesotec and Schirm GmbH were decisive for the success of this project.
Connected – FRIWO & Brekr gestalten gemeinsam die...
„Die Erde erwärmt sich, und die Auswirkungen auf den Lebensraum von Pflanzen, Tieren und Menschen sind enorm. Da CO2 den größten Beitrag zur globalen Erwärmung leistet, ist es notwendig, die Emissionen zu reduzieren. Elektrisches Fahren ist eine der Lösungen. Unsere Aufmerksamkeit liegt auf dem Akku, weil sich dort noch Verbesserungen erzielen lassen.“
Im Jahr 2018 wurde offiziell mit der Entwicklung von Brekr begonnen. Seitdem arbeitet das Team mit Spezialisten, Experten, Enthusiasten und Lieferanten zusammen die dessen Leidenschaft für elektrisches Fahren, Technik und Design teilen. Von Beginn an verfolgten die Gründer Jasper Hagedoorn und Niels Willems eine bestimmte Mission: Die Realisierung eines konsequent zu Ende gedachten E-Mobility-Konzepts.
Seit der Gründung konzentrierte sich das niederländische Unternehmen auf die wichtigsten technischen Komponenten. Das Team suchte nach einem leistungsfähigen Motor, einer Batterie mit optimaler Kapazität und einem Controller, der diese effizient steuert.
FRIWO als Brekrs Systempartner der Wahl
Nach zahlreichen Tests und Untersuchungen stand fest: FRIWOs ganzheitliche Systemlösungen stechen in diesem noch recht jungen Markt besonders hervor. Alle benötigten Informationen konnten von FRIWO jederzeit zur Verfügung gestellt werden, sodass es dem Brekr-Team gelang eine optimale Funktionsfähigkeit zu erreichen. Brekr und FRIWO bilden ein hervorragendes Match und setzen auf eine langfristige Kooperation, um weiterhin höchsten E-Mobility-Fahrkomfort zu bieten.
Details zu dieser Success Story und weiteren spannenden E-Mobility Projekten erfahren Sie hier!
VISUDESK - The new visualization software from Sesotec
Operators of sorting and recycling equipment are under constant pressure to improve the quality of their products and the efficiency of their processes. Process data has a decisive role to play in achieving these goals. By leveraging data, recycling companies can make informed decisions and implement strategic measures to enhance the efficiency, and thus also the profitability, of their sorting processes.
Sesotec is committed to supporting sorting and recycling facilities in this endeavor. The leading manufacturer of devices and systems for foreign object detection, material sorting, and analysis has now developed VISUDESK - a new visualization software for sorting equipment.
The VISUDESK visualization software consists of a browser-based dashboard that can be easily accessed via desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Reports and statistics are delivered to enable centralized monitoring and management of all sorting processes, helping to improve product quality as well as process efficiency. It is also possible to configure custom e-mail notifications to responsible employees in the event of critical machine conditions that could lead to equipment failure.
With VISUDESK visualization software, you can see all process and usage data from your interconnected Sesotec sorting and metal detection devices in one comprehensive dashboard. This dashboard provides a complete overview of your entire sorting line as well as information about specific groups of devices, enabling you to quickly create equipment configurations and automate product changeovers. As required, Sesotec technicians also provide expert process optimization support.
Instant, process-wide feedback about equipment status and throughput makes it possible to continuously improve your processes. With more power to monitor and control your processes and sorted materials, productivity and efficiency climb -- leading in turn to greater profitability. Furthermore, preventative maintenance contributes to a reduction in unplanned downtime, helping your sorting processes to continue creating maximal value with minimal malfunctions.
The new FRIWO SDK – Software for the next generation!
We accelerate the future of E-Mobility - Be part of it!
The new FRIWO SDK – Software for the next generation! ✔️What is a SDK?
In a Software Development Kit (SDK), developers will find many helpful resources that they need to create software using a particular technology: e.g. documentations, tools, libraries or examples.FRIWO Software Development Kit (SDK) – Learn more!
The FRIWO SDK allows you to program individual modules from the firmware for FRIWO products directly. This enables you to focus on the application development that is relevant for you. At the same time, you benefit from the mature FRIWO basic software. In interaction with the FRIWO Enable Tool, the self-developed parameters can be displayed live or modified. Regardless of whether it's an E-bike, electric scooter or other electric vehicle - the self-developed firmware can be rolled out to your own fleets as usual. 🛵⚡
In our next articles on the FRIWO SDK you will learn more about the features and get additional information. Be curious!
We are we pleased to announce that Prakash Khose has been appointed as Managing Director of our upcoming facility in India. Prakash joins Baettr with more than 30 years of experience within forging, casting, machining and assembly related work across multiple industries.
“I am very excited that Prakash is joining Baettr. Prakash possesses a good balance of leadership skills and applied technical understanding, combined with international outsight. In Prakash, Baettr gets an ideal match between our corporate ambition and company values," states Peter Pallishøj, CEO of Baettr.
Regarding his entry to the Managing Director position on April 1st 2021, Prakash Khose remarks: “I am privileged to be part of Baettr's ambitions for India and the company's global setup. For the upcoming facility in Chennai, India, the safety and sustainability standards will be inherent to the operational plan, reflecting our commitment towards all stakeholders. I very much look forward to the exciting journey as a part of Baettr."
How effective is your foreign material control programme?
Foreign material control programmes constitute a crucial pillar of food safety in manufacturing and processing businesses. But even beyond protecting consumer health and safety, robust foreign material controls ....
How effective is your foreign material control programme?
What is a foreign material control programme? Why is it important?
A foreign material control programme is a procedure implemented to prevent, detect and investigate instances of physical contamination in any facility that processes or manufactures food.
As the food industry becomes increasingly globalised with each passing year, supply chains become more complex. This expansive global network of agriculture, processing, production, transport and consumption is necessary to feed the growing world population, but the continuous expansion of the food supply chain also harbours an increased risk of physical contamination. As food products pass through multiple facilities, undergo a myriad of processing stages are handled by multiple people, there are more opportunities for foreign objects to contaminate the foods. A foreign material control programme is a means of mitigating the risk that physical contaminants pose to consumers, as well as to production processes and company reputation
The global interdependencies of the food industry are complex: whether in production, logistics or sales.
The prevention and early detection of foreign material contaminants is also important as a means of improving the environmental sustainability of the entire food supply chain. By immediately eliminating contaminated foods from the production cycle, no excess resources are spent in processing or transporting them further. Additionally, undetected contaminants may proliferate and contaminate an even higher volume of food as they move through the production cycle. For these reasons, foreign material control programmes play an supporting role in reducing industrial food waste.
Food safety certification and foreign material control programmes
All internationally recognised food safety standards are based upon HACCP – a methodology in which potential sources of food safety hazards are identified and assessed in order to establish a procedure for proactively controlling for and reducing risk. Because foreign materials are one of the most common types of contaminants, food safety audits from certifying organisations invariably involve assessing the protocol by which a facility prevents, detects and investigates instances of physical contamination.
A robust foreign material control programme is thus a requirement for food safety certification according to DIN EN ISO 22000, IFS, BRCGS, SQF, FSSC 22000 and more. Though the exact requirements for HACCP-based control measures differ between these standards, each stipulates that methods for preventing and detecting physical contaminants must be validated and verified in order to ensure efficacy.
Here are some of the requirements regarding HACCP-based foreign material controls from internationally recognised food safety standards:
BRCGS – Foreign material hazards are considered during the hazard analysis (2.7.2) and documented risk assessment (18.104.22.168), as well as during assessment of the equipment maintenance programme (4.7.2) and cleaning protocols (4.11.3). The BRCGS Standard also includes an entire subchapter outlining the effective use of foreign body detection and removal equipment (4.10).
IFS – Foreign body management is outlined in section 4.12 and is considered a “knock-out” requirement for which non-fulfilment results in non-certification. In the IFS Foreign Body Management guideline, foreign body management is regarded as “directly related” to six distinct IFS food requirements: quality and food safety management, resource management, food defence, senior management responsibility, planning and production process, as well as ongoing measurements, analyses and improvements.
Methods for detecting physical contaminants in food
In addition to protocol and technologies designed to prevent contamination, an HACCP-based foreign material control programme must also include methods for detecting physical contaminants in food products. Contaminant detection equipment can serve as a critical control point in food processing facilities. The three most common types of contaminant detection equipment used in the food industry are:
Food safety metal detectors and separators – Metal detectors are used to identify both ferrous and non-ferrous metals in food products and reliably reject them from the process flow. They reduce the risk of contamination due to equipment wear and other causes. For products that have a high conductivity or are subject to the so-called "product effect", however, conventional metal detectors often prove inadequate. Metal detectors equipped with artificial intelligence offers even better protection under these circumstances.
X-ray detection equipment – X-ray inspection machines for food are capable of detecting any foreign material whose density is higher than the food products, including bone fragments, metals, glass, plastic and more.
Magnet separators – Magnet systems may be fitted along the production line as a means of capturing ferrous metal particles in material flows.
Most foreign material detection technologies are outfitted with a product ejection system that can reliably isolate the contaminated product from the process flow.
Furthermore, advanced contaminant detection technology is equipped with software that generates and stores data about the batches it inspects and all instances of contamination. These capabilities facilitate traceability and detailed record-keeping, both of which are requirements for verifying the efficacy of a foreign material control programme.
According to major food standards, detection equipment must also undergo regular maintenance and calibration checks to ensure reliable performance.
Discover the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in metal detection.
The benefits of an effective foreign material control programme
A robust foreign material control programme is essential to ensure consumer health and safety. But even beyond the ethical imperative of food safety, effective foreign material controls can reap a number of benefits for food industry businesses.
Achieve certifications that grant access to lucrative distribution channels –The implementation of a validated foreign material control programme is necessary to become certified with internationally recognised standards such as IFS and BRCGS. This class of third-party food safety certification is increasingly becoming a prerequisite of doing business with major producers, distributors and retailers both abroad and domestically. Without the right foreign object controls in place to achieve compliance, food companies may be shut out from the most lucrative markets or lose business opportunities to better-prepared competitors.
Higher productivity – Implementing state-of-the-art contaminant detection technology can dramatically reduce the time and resources spent performing manual inspections, taking samples and record-keeping. Detection equipment that works quickly, accurately and reliably can secure your process without much added time or overhead.
Minimises costs – The ability to reliably detect the presence of foreign materials early in the production process can spare a business the costs associated with a lengthy investigation into the source of the contamination. Furthermore, undetected foreign materials may go on to damage processing machinery and proliferate via cross contamination, resulting in expensive repairs and an even larger volume of wasted food.
Reduces risk of recall – Failure to implement an effective foreign material control programme may result in contaminated food products making their way to grocery store shelves and consumer plates. With an average price tag of $10 million USD in direct, immediately measurable costs alone, the expenses associated with a product recall can threaten the economic viability of a food industry business and cause immeasurable reputational damage. Furthermore, recalls are hugely disruptive to operations and often result in a tremendous volume of wasted food.
Conclusions: foreign material controls protect consumers and your brand
All companies in the food industry should exhibit a sincere commitment to consumer health and safety. Upholding this commitment requires food industry businesses to take seriously the implementation and execution of validated food safety processes, including foreign material controls. But an effective foreign material control programme can do more for a company than simply prevent a public relations crisis. Technology and procedure combine to reduce contamination risk, costs and food waste, as well as to improve a company’s standing in the global food industry.
How artificial intelligence contributes to sustainable and profitable food processing
Despite the breadth of technology available for foreign object detection, certain types of food products remain difficult to inspect via conventional methods. The reason for this is that some foods have high levels of product effect, which can interfere with metal detection. Often the sensitivity of a metal detector is increased to compensate for product effect. This can however lead to a higher frequency of false rejects, thereby increasing product loss and food waste.
This white paper examines the phenomenon of product effect, the problems it can cause, and why artificial intelligence offers an innovative and promising solution.
Smart System Solutions for the Next Generation of Electromobility
Electric 2-Wheelers Develop Into a Multi-
System providers in the E-Mobility sector supply all the components required for a modern electric drive train from a single source. In addition to the hardware components, the offering of a system partner also includes the associated control and service software.
In particular, innovative start-ups and established providers aiming for a rapid go-to-market rely on the system partnership concept to gain a development edge and launch unique products with the help of flexible drive and control systems.
In March 2020, EU Environmental Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius presented a new circular economy action plan. As one of the most important components of the European Green Deal, it includes measures that encompass the entire lifecycle of products. In the future, for example, new products are to be designed with circular economy explicitly in mind. The overall goal: improving product durability and the capacity to upgrade, repair, and reuse products and to increase the percentage of recycled materials in new products. By 2030, all packaging produced in the EU is to be 100% reusable or recyclable.
A significant shift in favor of sustainability can currently be observed in society as well. According to a survey of 2,500 consumers in Germany by the EY (Ernst & Young) auditing and consulting company at the start of 2020, 68 percent of Germans would generally be willing to pay more for a product that demonstrably does no harm to the environment.
This growing awareness among politicians and in society of the need for the recycling of raw materials is affirmed in the recycling industry. Specifically in the recycling of plastics, the VDMA Professional Association of Waste and Recycling Technology sees an enormous amount of potential. For instance, the state-of-the-art recycling technology of today is already capable of recycling a large portion of the 14.4 million metric tons of plastics processed in Germany, with the exploitation of one metric ton of recycled plastic resulting in savings of between 1.45 and 3.2 metric tons of CO2-equivalent. There is just one problem: There is no sales market for recyclates.
Recycled vs. virgin material – a question of profitability
ue to the extremely low demand for crude oil at the end of 2020, the price of new plastics has plummeted. As a result, packaging manufacturers are increasingly turning to virgin plastics and using less recycled material. This effect is being exacerbated by the higher prices of recyclates, which are often due to elaborate recycling processes. In order to produce recyclates profitably and offer competitive prices, recyclers need to rely on state-of-the-art technology. In addition, the profitability of the recyclates is directly dependent on the input material. The higher the quality and the greater the degree of homogeneity the latter has, the more economical the recycling process will be. And only if the quality and price of the recycled material is comparable to that of virgin material will manufacturers decide to use it.
Dr. Sarah Brückner, Managing Director at the VDMA Professional Association of Waste and Recycling Technology, states the following in no uncertain terms: “A market for secondary raw materials and thus a successful circular economy cannot be established long-term without the right legal framework."
EU plastic tax – the solution?
The plastic tax that was passed in July 2020 is regarded by the EU as being a potential solution for saving the recycled material markets. Since January 1, 2021, this tax in the amount of 80 cents per kilogram has been levied on all non-recyclable plastic waste, and it is intended as an incentive for EU States to put less “dirty” plastic in circulation. Above all, this involves a big adjustment for Germany, which – according to the “Plastic Atlas” of the Heinrich Böll Foundation – is considered the largest producer and processor of plastic in Europe.
One problem with the plastic tax: The tax on plastic waste mainly puts a burden on the taxpayers, not on the packaging industry that is putting the plastic into circulation. Viola Wohlgemuth, responsible for the topics of consumption, textiles, and plastic at Greenpeace, is critical when it comes to the tax. According to a Spiegel article, she is of the opinion that – to develop a genuine steering effect – the plastic tax would already have to be levied on the product packaging as soon as it enters the market.
The percentage of recycled materials needs to be increased. But how?
The reliable availability of recyclates on the market could reduce the demand for primary raw materials. To achieve this, however, recyclers, manufacturers, and consumers need to work hand in hand.
Optimizing waste collection and recycling
Waste collection systems represent a significant first step in each waste management process and play a central role in its overall success. There are a large number of systems for collecting household waste in Europe. Today, the explicit collection of packaging and other household goods primarily consisting of plastic, aluminum, paper, and glass offers an attractive solution for maximizing the quantity of recycled waste. For packaging waste to actually be recycled, however, it is also necessary for the consumers to cooperate, not just the manufacturers. The basic prerequisite for waste preparation is homogeneous separation. Packaging waste can only be recycled if it is disposed of properly.
And yet there is another problem as well: If packaging consists of multiple material layers or a combination of materials that cannot be separated after use, the recycling process becomes much more time-consuming and costly. Some packaging is made of firmly adhered combinations of different kinds of plastic. In this case, they are generally put with one material category in the sorting system, thereby reducing the degree of homogeneity.
The increasing demand for recyclates – mainly recycled PET – to use in plastic packaging also harbors the risk that not enough secondary raw materials of sufficient quality will be available in the future. It has long been the case in Germany that beverage bottles are made of nearly 30 percent recycled PET. However, IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V. believes the PET beverage bottle market is at risk. “Only a few countries in Europe already have a deposit system for PET beverage bottles as effective as the one in Germany,” says Dr. Isabell Schmidt, the Managing Director of Circular Economy at IK.
To ensure that the industry has a sufficient supply of raw recycling materials, the separate collection and recycling of PET beverage bottles throughout the EU will need to be massively expanded. Otherwise, there could be a ban on the marketing of PET beverage bottles. To avoid this, IK is pushing for the development of a European market observatory that will primarily have the responsibility of keeping an eye on the availability of recycled PET materials in food contact quality. If recycled raw materials cease to be available at acceptable prices in the required quantities and qualities, then the EU requirements for the use of recycled materials should be suspended, says Dr. Schmidt.
Challenge for manufacturers and processors of plastic: high-quality recyclates thanks to innovative technologies
The most important prerequisite for manufacturing high-quality secondary raw materials is homogeneous material.
Recyclates purchased from different manufacturers frequently contains contaminants. This can be due to many factors. For example, if the various materials are not properly identified, separated, and sorted during the plastic recycling process, they will be mixed up in the recycled material in small pieces. If such contaminated recycled materials are processed further, this will adversely affect the product quality, resulting in complaints. Another possible reason for a complaint may be color deviations due to off-colors in the recycled material. The most frequent contaminants in recyclates are metal particles. If they remain undetected, they may cause machine damage and reduce production efficiency considerably.
The solution to this involves sensor-based material analysis systems and sorting devices that can sort precisely by shape, color, and material type. In addition, metal separators can identify and filter out even the finest metal particles in the recycled material. This makes it possible to obtain recycled material with purities of up to 99 percent from substandard starting material.
Politicians react to this challenge with ambitious requirements in legislation, such as in packaging law. When designing products in the future, manufacturers will have a new challenge with regard to holistic and sustainable product development. According to EU Commission requirements, all future products must be designed and produced in such a way that the packaging either is reusable and recyclable after use or consists of renewable raw materials.
And this is where the catch 22 occurs: Recyclable products can only be manufactured if there are sufficient secondary raw materials. And manufacturers will only be able to operate profitably if sufficient secondary raw materials are available at affordable prices.
Both society as well as politicians have an ardent desire to close the circle. While the EU has pointed in the basic direction and passed initial laws, a legally mature concept for actually achieving the ambitious climate protection goals and completely closing the circle has yet to emerge. But one thing is certain: Until this is the case, each stakeholder – from the manufacturer and processor to the consumer and recycling companies – must have a willingness to contribute proactively to the cause. However, such willingness will only be prevalent if all involved possess a certain level of planning security. Only then will they be in a position to work profitably.
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