BUYER’S GUIDE: Paul Featherstone, procurement director for SugaRich on the purchase of an Untha VR120 organic waste shredder.
How long have you worked for your company?
I’ve worked for SugaRich for approaching 13 years and before that held other roles in this specialised sector.
What did you buy?
SugaRich takes the food and drink sector’s waste and recycles it into nutritious animal feeds. The company bought a VR120 organic waste shredder from Untha.
The single-shaft technology removes the packaging from high-calorific surplus food such as starch-rich biscuits, bread and crisps before processing the material to a pre-specified maximum 100mm particle size. It is then fed into a trommel for further separation.
Why did you buy it?
Our existing shredder was at the end of its useful life and repair costs were escalating rapidly. It was time to source a replacement that was fit for purpose. In our opinion, Untha’s shredder was the best piece of kit on the market for our requirements.
What was your criteria?
A cost-effective, robust shredder capable of handling a diverse range of products in numerous physical formats. It had to be simple to use and maintain and, most importantly, offer a step-change in volume throughput.
How did you research your purchase?
SugaRich’s production manager evaluated all available technologies and suppliers, before testing the concept with a modest second-hand refurbished purchase for one of our smaller operations in Scotland.
This confirmed the type of shredder we needed, so then it was down to size, supplier and cost. We trialled an Untha machine at a site close to ours – it did ‘what it said on the tin’!
How many options did you consider and what were they?
We looked at two shredding technologies – a direct replacement for what we already had and a single-shaft machine.
What did the equipment have to achieve?
The shredder had to cope with anything we threw at it, not break down, have a higher work rate and a reduced unit cost of production. Several weeks in, it appears to be answering all these challenges.
The long-term running cost will confirm whether we made the right decision, but early indications are positive. Shredding surplus food may not seem very complicated but we have to tackle variable packaging types and volumes, plus variable product properties and densities.
Were there any particular challenges to finding the right machine?
While suppliers have encountered similar situations before, our application is unique.
Were there any other considerations to the purchase?
Service support. We may have the best machine in the world but if breaks down and there are no spare parts or skilled engineers to help repair it, our business is stuck. We looked for a manufacturer that could support us through the entire life of the asset and not just the initial supply.
How does the equipment fit with the company’s plans?
Our customers have asked us to recycle more and more food products during the past three to five years, so it was crucial that any new purchase had the ability to process an increasingly variable range of input materials. The VR120 will definitely cope with the changes we foresee in the near term.
The next challenge will be growth and the increasing volume of products that need some type of pre-processing (shredding) to enhance downstream processing speed and efficiency. However, from just the first few weeks, it is clear that we have gained significant shredding capacity.
Is the equipment future-proofed?
SugaRich is the first part of the human food chain supplying feed to livestock. Hygiene and cleanliness are therefore key – we cannot compromise the safety of the feed chain. Daily cleansing of the VR is straightforward, and we can also strip the machine down for deep cleaning, so we are confident it will maintain our product bio-security.