Challenging and Volatile Environment
Despite chocolate and confectionery manufacturers having proved relatively resilient amid the recent COVID-19 pandemic, they still have a lot to contend with these days.
Like most industries, chocolate manufacturers are facing increasing pressures, including rising costs, labour supply problems, energy price hikes, supply chain disruptions, and sustainability challenges.
And that’s only a few of the pressures facing manufacturers. We wrote a blog article recently ‘The Chocolate Industry – It’s Not all Sweet!’ about some of the other key issues facing chocolate and confectionery manufacturers. These include sugar reduction initiatives, volatile prices of the cocoa bean and even allegations of child labour in the supply chain.
Rising Cost of Living Affecting Global Demand
Manufacturers are also potentially contending with decreased global demand, with volumes set to decrease from a 2016-2019 CAGR of 2.1% to a 2021-2024 CAGR of 1.5%.
This is due to many consumers tightening their purse strings in response to the rising cost of living in Europe and the United States. As chocolate is often considered a luxury item or a treat, it may be one of first things that households are forced to cut back on.
Because of these increasing pressures, many chocolate and confectionery manufacturers and processors are looking for innovative and proven technologies and processes that increase yields, reduce waste, lower costs, speed up processing, while at the same time improve environmental sustainability.
A technology being widely implemented in chocolate processing and production is HPS liquid product recovery (“pigging”) technology.
Pigging Systems Provide Tangible Benefits
Hygienic (sanitary) pigging systems are in wide use in a number of industries including the chocolate and confectionery industry.
Pigging systems provide substantial, tangible benefits and cost savings by recovering residual liquid from pipelines and reducing waste and disposal expenses.
What’s more, the payback from implementing a pigging system is usually just a few months, delivering a high return on investment (ROI).
That’s why pigging is increasingly becoming a ‘must-have’ investment in chocolate and confectionery factories and production facilities throughout the world.
Pigging Systems for Chocolate and Confectionery Processing and Production
Pigging systems are used with everything from white chocolate, milk chocolate and candy, to sweets, dark chocolate, coatings, and ingredients.
The technology works by propelling a specialist projectile (called the ‘pig’) through process pipelines, typically using nitrogen, carbon dioxide, compressed air, or even the next product being pigged.
It’s important to note, water is also used in certain applications for propelling the pig. However, it’s rarely used in chocolate and confectionery production as water doesn’t work well with chocolate, particularly chocolate with a high cocoa content.
High Recovery Rates of the HPS Pig
HPS magnetised pigs are specially designed to have full body contact with the pipeline, which means very little liquid (if any) can get passed. This enables the HPS pig to achieve maximum recovery efficiency (usually up to 99.5% of residual product from full pipelines).
Because the HPS pig has a magnetised but flexible core, it can maintain full body contact, and hence full recovery rates, even when travelling around 1.5D bends.
The product is then transferred efficiently to its destination. This is typically the tank, filler, storage, bottling, or packaging. In some cases, the product is also sent to continue processing along with the rest of the batch.
In addition to chocolate and confectionery, other key industries benefiting from pigging systems include food and beverages, household liquids, pet food, paint, coatings, personal care, cosmetics, lubricants and many more.
So, why exactly is pigging technology a must-have investment for Chocolate and Confectionery Manufacturers?
Recovering Valuable Product from Chocolate Pipelines
With chocolate now more expensive to produce due to rising costs, chocolate manufacturers certainly want to avoid throwing away high value, saleable product. That’s why many companies are realising the cost-saving potential of recovering the product in their pipelines.
Because pigging systems recover practically all the residual chocolate product from the pipe, they are an incredibly effective way to increase product yields.
The product that is recovered by the HPS pig is in the same condition as the product being processed. So, it’s good and perfectly saleable product.
Importantly, instead of discarding this product as waste as part of the cleaning, and changeover process, it is saved.
In many chocolate and confectionery manufacturing facilities, there are lots of product transfer pipelines, which are left full of residual product at the end of transfer batches.
So, there’s a lot of product for the pipeline pig to reclaim, which increases yield significantly.
Reducing Product Waste and Lowering Costs with a Pigging Solution
As well as increasing product yields, pigging systems are also becoming a must have investment as they are an extremely effective way to reduce waste in chocolate production.
Many chocolate manufacturers spend significant amounts of money on waste disposal. Butter, oil, or both are often used to remove the residual liquid from the pipelines, which can be extremely time and resource intensive. Alternatively, the mass for the production can also be used to rinse and clean the line. This can lead to substantial product loss and high wastage.
In addition, some processing plants often dismantle the equipment and clean it by manually scaping and brushing the equipment. Again, this can be extremely time-consuming, tedious, and wasteful.
Essentially, because pigging recovers the majority of product residue remaining in pipelines, it minimises the volume of waste generated.
In turn, the reduction in product waste equates to significant savings on butter and oil, faster cleaning and changeovers, improved efficiency, lower energy usage, decreased labour costs, improved sustainability, and increased profitability.
Speeding Up Changeover Times
Changeovers are an important part of many chocolate and confectionery processes. The changeover process is greatly influenced by seasonal production and consequent peaks in periods such as Easter and Christmas. It is also influenced by fast-moving dynamics such as customers behaviour and their ever-changing needs and preferences.
Changeovers are occurring at greater frequency in the chocolate and confectionery industry. However, the problem being that changing from one product to another can account for huge product loss, lost production time, high wastage costs, and less productive human-resource hours.
After all, the more changeovers there are in a chocolate processing plant, the more downtime there is. This results in decreased productivity, efficiency, and revenue.
One of the key reasons pigging systems are a must-have investment in chocolate production is that they speed up changeover times and make the process much more efficient.
Due to the high recovery efficiency of the HPS pig, there’s minimal product in the pipeline after the pigging process. This means there’s less requirement for extensive, time-consuming butter and oil flushing. There’s also no requirement for the dismantling of equipment for cleaning.
So, pigging speeds up changeovers, improves efficiency, and saves product, time, labour, and resources.
The Importance of Product Quality in Chocolate Products
In chocolate production, the quality of the product is critical for ensuring an enjoyable eating experience for the consumer.
However, manufacturing chocolate is a complex process. For example, if chocolate is left stationary within a pipeline, it may deteriorate, freeze, or solidify.
Similarly, any excessive heating of the chocolate (i.e., if it sits too long in the pipelines), it can burn. This can affect product quality as it will cause the product to form grains, thicken, and become unusable. That’s where pigging can help.
In chocolate production, HPS pigging systems for chocolate are often water jacketed, which keeps the chocolate at the correct temperature without degradation.
Rather than leaving the chocolate in the pipelines, the HPS pig reclaims the product and forces it to its destination. This improves lot control and reduces the chances of chocolate products settling, freezing-up in the line and then being wasted.
Other Reasons Why Pigging is a Must-Have Investment
Other key benefits of pigging systems for chocolate and confectionery include improved production capacity and flexibility. That’s because HPS pigging systems recover nearly all the residual liquid from the pipeline, which enables the same processing line to be used for various formulations of product.
In addition, due to the high recovery rates of HPS systems, the chances of contamination and cross-contamination are greatly reduced.
Pigging systems also improve environmental sustainability. This is through waste reduction, less energy requirements, and decreased transport and disposal costs.
Above all, pigging systems improve profitability and boost the bottom line of chocolate processing and production.
So, for chocolate and confectionery manufacturers looking for innovative and effective ways to overcome challenges and improve their processes, pigging is clearly a must-have investment.
Find Out More
HPS have a wealth of knowledge and experience in chocolate and confectionery processing and production.
Our solutions are trusted by some of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, as well as smaller independents. These include Hershey, Lindt, Mondelez, Ghirardelli, Nestlé, Blommer, Godiva and Haribo to name a few.
If you manufacture chocolate or confectionery products and want to talk with one of our experts about improving your processes using product recovery (pigging) technology, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.