INNOVATION has earned Knutsford company Packaging Automation a major accolade.

The firm is based on the Parkgate Industrial Estate, and won a PPMA Group Industry Award in the Innovative Processing System category for its new MiWeigh weigh scale system.

Packaging Automation specialises in the design and manufacture of tray sealing and pot filling and sealing machinery which is used in the packaging of a range of food products.

The awards were held at The Hilton in Birmingham.

Operations director Neil Ashton said: “With an increase in the requirement for more automation and better efficiencies during the past 12 months, we found many customers in the convenience and fresh produce markets were looking to improve the process of weighing their products into the tray.

“This is a very manual element of the packing process, with high labour costs and the potential for high value give away.

“PA wanted to develop a product that would speed up the preparation of products and improve pack weight accuracy, therefore reducing give away.

“Additionally the goal was to provide live information to line leaders that could highlight training requirements for the product assembly line workers.

“The fact that we have won an innovation award for all our efforts and hard work is fantastic - we are so proud of our team and our achievements.”

PA’s R&D team worked with Freshtime, a Lincolnshire producer of value added, ready to eat vegetable and salad products to develop the hardware and software to optimise the setup of weigh scales, improve the weighing of products into trays and punnets with a data collection system and simple to understand visual go-no go graphics.

Matthew Codd from Freshtime said: “The new weigh scales have transformed our business - on average give away on some of our high cost proteins are as low as one per cent, which is a saving of up to 4.5 per cent compared to before MiWeigh was installed.”