The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) has been shortlisted for The Engineer – Information, Data & Connectivity award, sponsored by Babcock International Group.
The Engineer has shortlisted the recent digital transformation, a collaborative project between the VEC and Wirral based The Nursery Kitchen, provider of prepared wholesome and home cooked meals for young children in day nurseries across the UK.
Digital innovation experts, the VEC, worked with the company under the LCR4.0 project (part funded by the European Regional Development Fund) which focuses on introducing digital innovation to SME manufacturers. The project demonstrated how a new integrated digital records system would not only enable The Nursery Kitchen to more efficiently service their growing order book whilst increasing customer service, the VEC team developed the system to enable the company to automate many of their existing factory floor tasks while providing a solution for the tracking and control of allergens.
Traceability of allergens within food manufacturing is a key part of the regulatory compliance process. The company worked with the VEC to map out Nursery Kitchens’ existing processes and regulatory requirements, in order to provide a high-level proof of concept and system that would introduce new degrees of efficiency, traceability, regulatory compliance and allergen control whilst reducing the administrative burden, both within the manufacturing environment and the back office, sales, delivery and finance teams.
This project has been truly transformational for The Nursery Kitchen as the system provides scalability and the use of cyber physical assets, such as a digital thermometer, labelling and a refrigeration system to automate the production of records. This allows for every ingredient of every food product contained within each order to have an accompanying record for allergen, regulatory and food safety purposes.
The VEC helped The Nursery Kitchen to validate their ideas and system requirements and enabled them to become a better informed buyer with a greater in-depth understanding of not only the software available but of their own capabilities, needs and technology available to them.
At the time of support completion, The Nursery Kitchen serves over one million meals a year to nurseries across the nation. They foresee this increasing by 5%, reaching an additional 50,000 meals in which the new software will be crucial in the delivery for these new customers.
Katie Elliott, The Nursery Kitchen Director said: “Working with the VEC has helped the company to establish a plan to apply digital solutions in a way that will make the ordering process easier for our customers whilst providing a new level of efficiency, ingredient control and traceability that would not be possible with traditional paper processes.”
The VEC supported The Nursery Kitchen in their Made Smarter UK grant application, which has been successful and will further help to accelerate The Nursery Kitchen to digitalise their operations.