Hotel Chocolat uses the best ingredients for its products – a factor that extends to the production equipment it uses at its manufacturing base in Huntingdon. When the company invested in a dedicated plant for its Velvetiser drinking chocolate brand, two Ishida CCWR-RV multihead weighers have since become an integral part of the packing line solution.
In order to meet growing consumer demand for its popular drinking chocolate brand, the company decided to convert existing warehouse space into a dedicated production line for the flakes, creating a four-fold increase in capacity.
Offering a range of sizes – from retail packs to larger variants aimed at cafes and businesses – with over a dozen distinct flavours, weighing accuracy was a critical requirement for the new packing lines to be successful.
According to Simon Wood, Head of UK Manufacturing Projects at Hotel Chocolat, he had used Ishida equipment in a previous food production role and knew the multihead weighers were best suited to the job.
“Chocolate is understandably temperature-sensitive, the flakes used in the Velvetiser are small but non-uniform in size, and there’s always a residue of cocoa dust created during production,” Simon explained. “Our choice of weigher had to cope with these factors, as well as delivering the required speed, accuracy and ease of changeovers during 24-hour operation.”
The two Ishida 28-head CCW-RV range multihead weighers with 500 cc hoppers are suited to handle smaller target weights at high speeds, thanks to feeder technology using pulse width modulation and an integrated Automatic Feeder Drive (AFD) system that ensures precise control of product flow through the weigher.
In addition to this, the weigher’s triple combination calculation software is able to calculate three optimal weight combinations, double check them and select the one nearest to the target weight, in one cycle.
In the production line, the multihead weighers are part of a multi-level system for the production of Velvetiser flakes, installed and commissioned during 2021.
“The Ishida weighers sit at the centre of a three-level facility, created from scratch in what used to be a warehouse,” explained Sylwia Zmuda, Manufacturing Site Manager, Velvetiser, Hotel Chocolat. “On the top floor, the chocolate is mixed, extruded and chilled, before being broken into flakes by rollers.
“The flaked chocolate is conveyed to the middle level, where the Ishida CCW-RVs weigh them into the required portion sizes, before they drop down to ground level to be bagged and inspected.”
The conveying system in the production line is able to transfer the chocolate flakes to two Ishida weighers to provide additional capacity and uninterrupted production in the event of machine maintenance.
“It’s a highly efficient system and Ishida provided exceptional training to help our team get the best out of the weighers,” added Snieguole Kaikaryte, Operations Shift Manager, Hotel Chocolat.
“This has been a major investment by Hotel Chocolat, and one that is paying off in terms of the high standards of throughput and quality achieved by the flaked chocolate production line. Ishida’s involvement in the project has been an integral part of this success, allowing us to treat our global customers to high-quality drinking chocolate,” concluded Simon Wood.
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