Versatile solutions for cheese packaging

Published on Monday 11 June 2012 (10:22am)

As anyone who handles it will testify: cheese is a notoriously difficult product to package accurately. It comes in various formats including blocks, sliced and grated and also possesses different textures and sizes.  So it is absolutely essential for dairy manufacturers to be able to package the different variations efficiently, accurately and to a high standard to ensure they reach the stores in a timely fashion. And thanks to new technology this is now possible.

Multihead weighers are fast, accurate and reliable machines that are known for the benefits they bring to the dairy industry.  The machines are equipped with anti-stick surface coatings, which mean easy handling of products that do not flow well and they are also capable of running at high speeds, even at low temperatures.  In addition they come with the added benefits of being easy to use and safe to clean. With the number of different cheese formats available, these plus points are essential for dairy packaging.

Take grated cheese, for example. This is an extremely challenging product to handle, as it often lumps together during delivery to the weigher. A high throughput speed is required during this delivery process to ensure that the product arrives consistently and evenly in the multihead weigher. Any machinery involved in this process should have a high amplitude feeder drive of sufficient power to allow for the optimum and even flow of product to the feed buckets. This should be complimented by accurate load cell technology, ensuring that the cheese is weighed and distributed to an extremely high degree of accuracy.

However the exact same solution can’t be applied to all cheese formats – such is the foods versatility, a machine which is extremely flexible is required to weigh and pack it. In reality, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to the challenges, so the requirements and goals of each scenario should be assessed in order to apply a bespoke solution.

With this in mind, weigher contact parts with customisable surface finishes should be used, allowing all types and forms of cheese to be handled with equal efficiency. Smooth surfaces, non-stick surfaces and contact parts with dimples for example, should all be utilised where required to ensure the highest possible quality is maintained.

In addition, the hygiene standards that the dairy industry is subject to are understandably high and producers must be able to clean and maintain all aspects of their operations accordingly. Contact parts that are quick release and require no tools to access are therefore essential. Buckets should also be formed from clean angles, such a polygons, to eliminate difficult to reach places where decontamination and bacteria can proliferate. Further to this, any machines involved in the dairy industry should be fully compliant with IP65 or better still IP67.

As in all industries, inaccurate weighing can cause serious reputational damage for dairy brands.  Consumers expect to have the same amount of grated cheese in a pack every time they make a purchase. If they see huge fluctuations then they are unlikely to repeat purchase as they see the brand as unreliable. At the same time, if too much of a product is packed then the brand is losing out financially, so accurate weighing is hugely important, especially at a time when the economy is still recovering.

With so many considerations to bear in mind, it is essential that multihead weighers are tailored to suit individual requirements. Yamato Scale Dataweigh works with several leading cheese manufacturers, helping them achieve greater accuracy when packaging their goods. Recently we launched our latest multihead weigher, Dataweigh Omega, which was specifically designed to meet the requirements of the cheese industry.  

The machine incorporates the latest technology and improves both the accuracy and speed of the weighing process. Already manufacturers are benefiting and we will continue to work with them to ensure their processes are operating at maximum efficiency and productivity.

The Dataweigh Omega multihead weigher applies groundbreaking technology to improve productivity – operating at speeds of more than 200 weighments per minute (WPM) and increasing yield weights of up to 1.6%. The system also boasts improved environmental responsiveness – by offering a reduction in power consumption of 60% – ease-of-operation and food safety.

The system benefits from new high frequency technology, which withstands any unbalanced loads and minimises load cell vibrations. A lattice digital filter adapts to optimum weighing conditions and allows for high-speed operations, whilst a dual load cell eliminates low frequency vibrations. Meanwhile, a toggle-less gating mechanism reduces the mechanical impact on the load cell and suppresses the bucket gating noise. Individually adjustable collating chutes also facilitate high-speed discharge, ensuring flexibility and enhanced product diversity, whilst the accuracy of the system means there is little product waste.

Dealing with a food product which can be soft or hard, dry or wet, grated or solid is not a straightforward process. Recent advances in weighing technology mean that packaging cheese has become more straightforward for dairy manufacturers, enabling a vast array of products to be distributed in numerous formats quickly, accurately and safely.