An Enterprising partnership with Radical Waters: The leading provider of EAW technology in Sub-Saharan Africa has progressively built a platform with Enterprise that can be applied and used across a broader base within the South African processed meat industry as well as other industries that are on a quest for quality, advises Dr Robin Kirkpatrick, Radical Waters technical director. This comes at a period when Radical Waters is embracing a fresher new corporate identity and making the transition from being a supplier of an EAW product with a disinfecting benefit to a solutions partner offering a collection of sustainable value added
technology applications. This is also the first time Radical Waters has rolled out its technology in this particular sector, he says, and it’s happened as a result of a cooperative relationship with Enterprise that has been nurtured over the past year.
Leap of faith
When Radical Waters first approached Enterprise in 2006, it was a leap of faith because while the EAW technology was verified in a laboratory and SABS accredited, it had not yet been implemented in a commercial plant. Because of this, instead of jumping in with the ultimate silver-bullet approach as initially proposed by Radical Waters, Enterprise opted to focus on one key high-care area (vienna packaging) as a starting point – almost as a pilot study – from which to assess the situation. According to Alastair Stride, Radical Waters md, the EAW device was implemented in November and December and since then it has been a progressive installation up until August this year when, following the success of the integration, all aspects were optimised in a holistic program. We moved from 70% to 95% in terms of the high-risk areas we are now covering. The preliminary focus was to use the technology, which is essentially a risk management tool, to cap the threats in as many points as possible within the identified high-care area. In this instance, Radical Waters saw fit to integrate both its disinfectant and detergent solution into the area because of the unique need for both (solutions are tailored to meet client requirements).
On the basis of benefits such as an improved microbial count, extended product shelf-life (less returns) as well as an enhanced work flow and bottom line, Enterprise was happy to incrementally expand the technology to other key areas in the plant. Says Dr Kirkpatrick: “The minute you get a handle on one area of process – such as equipment or manual worker intervention – and you’ve capped a potential risk there, it’s easier to recognise others and put the appropriate control measures in place, particularly in high-volume continuousproduction facilities. That’s what we’ve done with Enterprise – progressively expanded the installation to encompass the concept of our final solution becoming a core ingredient intrinsic to the Enterprise product mix and process system, which is possible because it’s a natural sanitising product that eliminates microbial contamination with no adverse carry-overs. This is all in line with the trend towards healthier chemical-free products.” Coupled to the technology on site, Radical Waters is supplying Enterprise with an umbrella of offerings such as microbiological assessments, consultancy services, back-up and maintenance. It’s not about putting in an off-the-shelf product supplied at X rate at specific times of a day to get X results.
Our team is there quarterly to set up task groups to map out the way forward. “Essentially, Radical Waters has moved from being a relatively unknown supplier of what can be perceived as an elaborate claim to become the custodians of the Enterprise hygiene system in support of HACCP and ISO performances. Says Andrew Cocks, Enterprise supply chain executive: “In our mission to be the leading prepared meats company in Southern Africa, we are “through continuous process improvement” striving to satisfy our customers with safe, affordable, innovative, nutritious and quality branded products. When we were approached by Radical Waters with this “magic water”, we were skeptical to say the least, especially in terms of how it would add value to our end product. But after the pilot plant was installed and the first set of micro results were in, we started to understand the great potential this system could offer. After spending many long days and late nights with the Radical Waters team fine-tuning the system, we were convinced that not only would this “magic water” increase the shelf-life of our product, but it would enable us to keep the product contact area on the filling systems free of biofilm on a continuous basis.”
A Real-time sanitation
A key element of the Radical Waters spray application is its ability to integrate into realtime sanitation, hereby avoiding the downtime traditionally associated with CI P (Cleaning-In-Place). According to Dr Kirkpatrick, the technology is implemented on a hands-free basis: it all happens behind the scenes. “There’s no need for people to measure out cupfuls – it’s done automatically onsite. Our solution is a hygiene management tool that enables companies to reclaim control over hygiene. The quality assurance manager’s hands are no longer tied when confronted with progressive contamination of product as the shift
progresses.” Unfortunately there is such limited knowledge of this technology in the market, he says, particularly as the food and beverage industries are typically very conservative. As a result, Radical Waters has invested substantially in changing mindsets and spending time with potential clients to understand their critical areas and marry those with what it has to offer.
Another challenge is the fact that cleaning and hygiene are grudge purchases so Radical Waters has concentrated its efforts on targeting progressive blue-chip companies such as Enterprise who are happy to invest in their brand equity. As brand leaders, they also want something that is sustainable to avoid inconsistency of performance and to give their brand greater security. But as the EAW technology starts to gain increasing credibility in the SA market, Dr Kirkpatrick says Radical Waters will continue to expand into different sectors. “While our core strength has been in fresh meat and the perishable protein market, beverages are a big opportunity for us.”
Another new focus is that Radical Waters is taking its packaged offering Actsol to mass retailers so the technology can be used not only at the point of primary production, but also at the secondary processing stage (delis and butcheries) where there is further handling of processed products. Over the next few months, Radical Waters will be developing this avenue further and chipping away at any skepticism encountered to increase its footprint in the market. Actsol is pH neutral, gentle and nonirritating. Without a doubt, he says, Enterprise will now continue to evolve opportunities for itself within its own plant by means of the EAW technology.
According to Cocks, they found that the product could be used for other applications in other parts of the manufacturing process with positive results. “We’re confident that with Radical Waters as a partner in our process, we’ll add safety and value to our products.” Concludes Stride: “EAW is produced fresh, onsite and on demand – it is also cost-effective and safe. We charge on a per-litre basis and structure our customer offerings on an incremental basis: what you pay is relative to usage.”
Radical Waters first introduced Electro Activated Water (EAW) to SA in 1997 and has the exclusive licence from the Electro Chemical Technology Group for all applications in Sub-Saharan Africa. The technology is based on the process of EAW in a patented reactor system. Using only natural elements: water, electricity and a small amount of conducting salt – this combined solution is fed through the system and two oppositely charged streams of activated water are generated. The positively charged oxidising agent has disinfectant properties, while the other negatively charged reducing agent has anti-oxidant properties that can be used as a detergent. EAW essentially eliminates biofilm and prevents its regrowth. It can be applied without disrupting current processing protocols; it is water and energy efficient. Solutions are easily and safely applied without requiring special handling procedures or equipment. Despite these advantages, it must still be incorporated into an integrated HACCP plan.