Empack 2018 to showcase OAL and University’s collaborative packaging technology

On 28th February and 1st March 2018 the packaging technology event, Empack, will return to the NEC Birmingham.

Industry professionals and retailers will gather to discover the latest technological advances in packaging, from logistics to transit and robotics and automation.

Olympus Automation Ltd. (OAL) will showcase APRIL EYE- an intelligent date code verification system created in a bid to cut food waste in the supply chain.



The system was developed in partnership with the University of Lincoln in a retailer led initiative, APRIL EYE uses AI to read back and verify date codes, preventing product recalls related to the incorrect application of date codes. In removing human error from the supply chain, this technology will hope to reduce food waste related to the incorrect date coding of products.

You can book your place at Empack online.



Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference – Agenda

Food manufacturing 2030 agenda 

We cannot wait to welcome all our guests for our Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference tomorrow (October 13, 2016).

Please see below an agenda for the day.

Agenda Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference 131016 v1.3 copy


We will start promptly at 9am after a networking breakfast, with University of Lincoln’s Val Braybrooks and OAL’s Harry Norman.

Simon Lushey from Marks and Spencer will give a talk on the importance of innovation to food retailing, leading into ‘New robot technologies for food manufacturing’ by Andrea Paoli at the University of Lincoln.

After a coffee break at 10.30am, we will look at ‘The Future of Chilled Food Manufacturing’ by technical specialist, Ann Savage. We answer ‘How will consumer trends shape food manufacturing?’ with a talk from Steve Osborn from Aurora Ceres Partnership.

The day will end with demonstrations, discussions and tours of the Holbeach National Centre for Food Manufacturing facility.

Feel free to save a PDF version for your use. We look forward to seeing you there.

Agenda Food Manufacturing 2030 Conference

APRIL the ‘robotic chef’ to be unveiled at NCFM!

APRIL the 'robotic chef'A pioneering robotics system which could dramatically change the way food is manufactured will be launched this month at the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) in the UK.

The Automated Processing Robotic Ingredient Loading (APRIL) ‘robotic chef’ system has been developed by OAL, a leading provider of process and automation solutions for the international food industry.

It is a fully automated robotic system that can mix, load and cook ingredients in a manner similar to professional chefs yet on an industrial scale, by using modern cooking and material handling technologies. APRIL is designed to boost production and efficiency, while improving the quality of food produced.

At a special launch event on Thursday 28th April 2016, the new technology will be unveiled to individuals and businesses from across the food industry.

Representatives from the University of Lincoln, OAL and KUKA Industrial Robots will outline developments in the use of robotics in food manufacturing and the event will also feature a full-scale demonstration of the system, which includes a five tonne industrial robot recently installed at our campus in Holbeach.

Mark Swainson, Lead for Food Manufacturing Research at the NCFM, said: “The nature of the processing and sheer scale of the APRIL system really sets it apart from other robotic manufacturing processes in the food sector and we are delighted to be working with OAL on this initiative here at the University of Lincoln.

“APRIL enables much more control over recipe management and recipe control of liquid food products on an industrial scale.

“With this new process we are looking to emulate the chef in the kitchen in a large-scale batch robotic environment, which brings with it many labour and product benefits.”

APRIL allows users to scale up the approach chefs use to prepare restaurant food, with typical applications including the production of soups, sauces and ready meals. The technology includes robotic cells which have a modular and flexible design that enables the system to easily switch between products.

OAL, which is headquartered in Peterborough, recently received a £60,000 grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative to continue its development of the patented technology.

For more information on the system, visit www.aprilrobot.com.

New research set to revolutionise ready meals

New research set to revolutionise ready meals

NCFMWant to know how to improve the quality and healthiness of ready meals, whilst also reducing current food waste and increasing the speed of production?

A collaborative research project involving major food sector businesses and the University of Lincoln, UK has found an innovative system which could only take two processes.

Rapid cooking (using Steam Infusion Vaction™ technology) and rapid cooling (using liquid nitrogen).

These two processes could enable just-in-time production and target areas where there are major opportunities for improvement in food manufacturing including nutritional values, productivity and waste.

Greatly enhancing food production within the fast growing markets for ready meals, soups and other sauce-based food products, this finding will be key for the industry.

Mark Swainson, Lead for Food Manufacturing Research & Higher Education at the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be progressing such an important research project with key industry partners, through which we aim to optimise performance and product quality across the food manufacturing sector”.

“The knowledge gained from our scientific research into the process technologies and ingredient behaviour will be used to maximise nutritional and health values, as well as enhance product quality and shelf life.  We also hope to minimise waste by developing a fully flexible process that reduces production, cleaning and changeover times. This will help the industry to meet the increasingly variable supply requirements of the Retail and Food Service sectors.”

Cedric Hanson, BOC’s Business Development Manager, Application Technology, commented: “BOC is delighted to be a partner in this project. Our cryogenic rapid cooler is the latest in a line of innovations that BOC is introducing into the UK and – together with our project partners – we look forward to integrating the cooler with OAL’s rapid steam infusion to produce a commercial, just-in-time production system”.

Funded by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK, the two-year Advanced Cooking and Cooling Technology (ACCT) project is led by food engineering specialist Olympus Automation Ltd Group (OAL) and involves the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), global leader in cryogenic freezing and chilling technologies for food production BOC Ltd, and leading UK frozen ready meal manufacturer Iceland Manufacturing Ltd.

A major aim of the ACCT partners is that the project will result in the development of a new generation of products and processes to unlock exciting new food opportunities not possible utilising current food process technologies.