JBT PLF’s Virtus™ filling system for infant formula, the latest powder filling innovation from PLF which has raised safety and quality standards for the segment, is receiving an upsurge in interest from manufacturers from North America to Asia. With its “zero-risk”, food-safe design, speed and ability to deliver energy savings, Virtus is helping customers respond to both the need to keep achieve greater efficiencies and the importance of ensuring foreign body contaminants do not enter cans during filling.
One place where JBT PLF is now having a greater impact in the US, where the infant formula market is by any standards huge. Worth some US$ 40.5 Billion in 2022, according to GlobalData, the industry is expected to be valued at US$ 43.0 Billion by 2027.
However, across North America, there has been growing interest in safer filing methods following a recent infant formula food safety scare with PLF perfectly poised to help manufacturers rise safety standards in facilities. With PLF’s latest patent-pending filling technology, Virtus, any potential recontamination risks have been mitigated by what is now considered the safest way to handle infant formula and other dry products.
Zero contamination risk
An In-line Vacuum Powder Filler, the PLF Virtus not only handles infant formula at speeds of up to 180 Cans Per Minute (CPM), the system also crucially comes with zero risk of foreign body contamination. With a hygienic design, engineered for clean room use for milk formula products, the Virtus can operate for longer periods between cleaning, resulting in significantly less downtime than is typical with many other systems.
PLF serves all of the major infant formula brands worldwide, making the company a trusted expert in the infant formula industry. But with the launch of Virtus, PLF has again raised the quality and safety standards of this sensitive product segment, says Amedeo Scapin, JBT’s Global Director for Diversified Food & Health, Packaging, Automation & Filling.
“Virtus is probably the most TCO (total cost of ownership) driven technology in the market, and I would describe it as the industrial bench mark,” he continues. Scapin anticipates this combination of a food safe design with an effective filling system will make a real impact in the North American market, noting that JBT has already signed contracts to supply PLF filling lines to a major customer in the region.
Featuring a patent-pending nozzle design, the Virtus (pictured above) is able to triple a customer’s output per fill nozzle, leading to a substantial savings in cleaning time, energy consumption, compressed air usage, and the overall footprint.
“Customers who use the Virtus have seen a 50% reduction in energy use and a 20% reduction in compressed air, which makes the Virtus the most sustainable powder filling technology currently available,” says Scapin.
“We have drastically reduced the footprint and energy consumption, while at the same time we have increased safety around the filler: we have nothing that rotates and there is no moving part that touches the actual product,” Scapin explains. “As a result, the Virtus offers completely stable production with no risk of foreign body contamination during filling.”
Another of the key benefits of the Virtus is its modularity, continues Scapin. With a starting base output of 30 CPM for a single filler, this can be extended through modularity up to six filler nozzles in line with a total capacity of 180 CPM.
“The food scares that we saw in 2022 concerning infant formula underline both the need for greater food safety and the fact that the Virtus is the best technology available on the market now,” adds Scapin.