Set up in 1880, Bennett Opie is a family-run food manufacturing business located in Sittingbourne, Kent. The company produces a variety of preserves, jams, pickles, chutneys, syrups and sauces that can be found on supermarket shelves across the country.

Bennett Opie’s owners focus on manufacturing products of the highest quality and achieve this by using raw fruit, vegetables and other natural ingredients. One of the company’s biggest challenges in recent times has been finding a machine to clean and sanitise the trays used for the fruit, vegetables and syrups, that would be reliable, easy to use and environmentally friendly.

“We had been using a tray washer that was not quite up to scratch, so we realised we needed a customised solution,” explained James Jennings, engineering manager at Bennett Opie. “Our trays are heavily soiled with fruit debris and syrups and with the old machine they required two or three washes each time, which was expensive and time-consuming.”

“What’s more, we are a responsible company and care deeply about the environment, so we are constantly trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We recycle 90% of the water used during our cooling processes in production and wanted to do the same for our tray washers. To help us find a better way of washing the trays, we got in touch with IWM and explained to them what we wanted, and they devised a solution that fits our needs.”

The engineering team at IWM developed a customised version of the T400e High-Care single-lane continuous-wash tray washer, which can handle up to 400 trays per hour whilst being operated by one person, making easy work of Bennett Opie’s sticky trays.

The extremely compact construction of IWM’s new T400e means that it is easy to accommodate even where space is restricted, while its robust design, low maintenance requirements and high operating efficiency make it extremely economical to run. To suit Bennett Opie’s requirements, the IWM team moved the control panel of the machine to fit the shop-floor layout more conveniently and provide easier access. IWM also arranged for the machine to be steam-heated and for the fresh rinse to be done at high temperature.

For maximum economy, the wash water and detergent are re-circulated via an efficient yet easy to clean filter system. A freshwater rinse is provided, and the rinse water is recovered to the wash tank to minimise water usage from the mains. The new machine also incorporates IWM’s latest hygienic design, which makes it fast and easy to clean and completely eliminates potential dirt traps.

“We initially went to see IWM and took with us heavily soiled trays that we had used for manufacturing pickled walnuts, stem ginger and cherry syrups,” said Jennings. “We wanted to show IWM exactly what we are up against by purposely leaving the contamination to dry and see what they could do about it. They did not disappoint! In the past, running the trays multiple times though the wash used 10 cubic metres of water for one batch of trays. The T400e uses less than 5 cubic metres thanks to IWM’s innovative design. And it also greatly reduces the time needed for the washing operations.”