Traditional in-line continuous food processing ovens are large and expensive, which may prevent smaller food producers from taking advantage of in-line cooking. We plan to use our considerable expertise in this field to offer a range of small and efficient machines.
Our prototype machine, funded through Seedrs, has recently been completed and successfully tested. The machine incorporates a number of innovations to improve the viability of spiral-ovens in smaller sizes while also being scale-able allowing us to offer a range of sizes based on the same basic design concepts.
To date our effort has been focused on the manufacture, development & testing of a prototype machine & its control system; in addition to establishing a supply chain and securing a facility to assemble & demonstrate the product. We're now ready to begin marketing the oven to potential distributors.
Many small food manufacturers use 'batch' ovens (usually walk-in ovens with removable racks) but our view is that the inefficiencies of batch processing present a barrier to growth. Batch ovens must be loaded, heated, cooled and unloaded for each cook cycle which is both labour and energy intensive and can result in poor utilisation of the oven and factory space. Batch ovens may also give inconsistent results due to temperature and airflow variation throughout the cycle in different parts of the oven.
A spiral oven has a continuous conveyor belt that travels through it in a helical path providing a continuous cooking process, the conveyor belt speed determines the cook (residence) time and the oven holds a constant temperature throughout the production shift eliminating the heat/cool cycles resulting in enormous energy savings. The spiral oven also requires less floor space than other ovens of comparable capacity allowing companies to increase production without expanding their premises.
Finally, since all the product moves through the oven on the same path all product is exposed to the same thermal profile giving the manufacturer better control over the quality of their products.
Large spiral ovens may be too expensive or unsuitable for smaller food manufacturers, a range of high-quality small spiral ovens may allow such companies to benefit from continuous processing at an earlier stage in their growth, helping them improve quality & efficiency while reducing operational costs.
Substantial accomplishments to date
The lead entrepreneur has extensive experience designing machinery having spent many years developing equipment in the food machinery industry.
Funding of £80,000 was raised through Seedrs in March 2013 allowing us to secure premises, equipment & parts to build a prototype which has been manufactured and tested. A range of machines has been designed allowing us to offer different sizes and specifications. We believe our designs are superior in performance, efficiency and quality to anything else on the market.
As part of the prototype development we have also designed and successfully tested an innovative turn/curve conveyor belt that better suits smaller equipment.
We have secured desirable domain names (including www. spiral-oven. com and www. spiraloven. com) for our website which is achieving well placed listings on major search engines in many regions.
We believe the lead entrepreneur has the experience and contacts to continue to develop the product range & secure distributors.
Machines have an anticipated sales value of £50,000 to £200,000 depending on size and specification. We believe we can offer significantly better value than our competitors due to an innovative and highly optimised design while maintaining excellent margins.
Design, basic fabrication, assembly, software development & testing are conducted in-house. Fabrication of major welded assemblies is sub-contracted. Several sub-contractors have been identified. As the business grows additional functions may be brought in-house to further improve profitability.
The equipment is designed to meet regulatory requirements applied throughout the developed world and the machines fit into standard shipping containers for export. Distributors are being sought to sell and service the equipment in many regions. Distributors would be paid a commission on sales & provide support and maintenance services in their region.
The prototype machine will be made available for customer trials and demonstration at trade shows.
Use of proceeds
£10,000 will be set aside to cover fixed costs including rent/rates, consumables, utilities & insurance for 12 months.
£5,000 will be used to further improve the prototype machine & spare parts.
£3,000 will be used to improve the facility with the addition of a water softener and ventilation/extraction system.
Remaining funds will be used for marketing and to support customer trials through 2014. None of the proceeds from this round of funding will be used to pay Salaries to Directors. Any salaries paid to Directors will be capped at a percentage of sales revenue.
Food manufacturers of all sizes, from the small specialist start-up needing an efficient and flexible machine to handle all their range, to the large enterprise wanting to develop and trial new products without disrupting their large production equipment but using a process that can be scaled-up.
As convenience foods and pre-cooked foods continue to grow market share more companies are offering cooked products, whether sausages, bakery goods, ready-meals, burgers, baked potatoes, chicken pieces, enchiladas, pizza, pies or even bacon, our spiral ovens are ideally suited.
The machines are electric (with gas versions planned), easy to install and designed to be transported in standard cargo containers to anywhere in the world.
Characteristics of target market
Many hundreds of small food manufacturers exist who would benefit from the availability of smaller continuous production machinery.
The small continuous oven market is relatively new it is difficult to quantify accurately.
Every region has food machinery distributors with sales staff visiting potential customers regularly, recruitment of distributors will be a priority and with very few small spiral oven manufacturers in the market, we hope distributors would be keen to add our range to their portfolio. We also intend to seek opportunities to show our equipment at trade shows in conjunction with potential distributors.
The company owns several domain names including www. spiral-oven. com and www. spiraloven. com. Our site currently ranks at No. 1 (or close to No. 1) on leading search engines for the common industry term 'Spiral Ovens' in the UK and USA. As a consequence we can benefit from our competitors' marketing efforts.
A huge amount of effort has been applied to optimising the design of our machines to maximise performance, flexibility and quality while carefully eliminating unnecessary costs.
Our products were designed by an individual who we believe is an expert in the field. Our products have benefited from the experience he gained in more than 20 years designing machinery.
We believe our machines cost less to produce than our competition, with a reduced component count and labour content, whilst performance, throughput and efficiency should be improved.
With competitive pricing, improved performance and high quality we believe we would have a lead over our competitors in three important areas.