Success comes full circle for Yaxley food production business


Phil and Jane with one of the machines

Elliptical Design creates and build machines that slice food using sound waves vibrating at 40,000 times a second, working on products which have a sticky, crumbly, delicate or soft structure.

Waitrose and Tesco are among those stores stocking food which will have been sliced using that method rather than wire - and the design for the machines themselves will probably have originated at Discovery Business Park.

Phil and Jane Thompson launched the business a decade ago from the dining room table, and it is now in its third location after previously being stationed in Phorpres Close. 

The machines are designed and then plans are sent out to fabricators before the machines make their way to factories across the country.

The company also designs robots which can be used to slice or move objects such as food into packaging, with follow-up maintenance and servicing if needed. 

There were more examples than normal for guests to examine, as a combination of Brexit and delivery issues have meant that there is a shortage of electronic chips which delayed deliveries from September for these bespoke machines.

Jane said: "The action of a normal knife drags the food, and doesn't give a nice finish. It also leads to more wastage. This gives a much smoother cut by using sound to make the product fall apart.

"We have invited customers from across the UK, in Scotland and Somerset. They will now be doing their Christmas production at the moment.

"People have had to alter the way they do things because staff numbers on factory lines have been reduced of the pandemic. Some will have had to go home and shield, or care for others. That meant a lot of food factories looked towards automation."

Phil said: "The machines retail for about £150,000 but they are unique .

"We don't have a great deal of competition, but we are well-known in the industry and have a tight relationship with our customers - we look after them and make sure they're happy."