Swiss dairy company Molkerei Biedermann AG, a member of the Emmi Group, has recently installed an Ishida multihead weigher for handling nuts and cereals, which are packed as separate portions to accompany yoghurts and desserts. The dairy is currently using the Ishida multihead to handle five different products at target weights from 14 g to 25 g and with pinpoint accuracy: the standard deviation for a 25 g weight, for example, is just 0.165 g.
Molkerei Biedermann AG, based in Bischofszell in the canton of Thurgau, is one of Switzerland's most innovative dairies, operating processing lines for milk and cream and for making yoghurt, quark cheese and butter. Growing demand had led the company to urgently seek an automated and more accurate weighing and filling solution for its most popular product lines.
Some of these products are yoghurts and desserts with separate portions of additional ingredients such as cereals or nuts. To keep these ingredients crunchy and fresh until they are added to milk or yoghurt, they need to be packed separately. Molkerei Biedermann’s solution is a double-compartment arrangement involving two pots stacked on top of each other, with the smaller pot also acting as a lid.
These double-compartment packs have proved extremely popular. However, the company found that its existing volumetric dosing system for the cereal and nut mixtures was no longer able to keep up with the throughput necessary to meet rising demand. In particular, volumetric dosing resulted in very high product giveaway due to overfilling. “We were experiencing overfilling of up to 30%,” explains Operations Manager Mario Dux. “We could cope with that when quantities were small, but our production volumes are getting bigger all the time.”
To make sure that the company could weigh its high-value nuts and cereals with much greater accuracy, Molkerei Biedermann decided to invest in a multihead weigher. Itech, Ishida’s representative in Switzerland, installed an Ishida CCW-SE 10-head weigher, an ideal entry-level solution for multihead weighing needs. The SE-range offers significant advances in speeds and accuracy compared with dosing machines, linear weighers or static weighing solutions.
The rotary filler’s fill rate of 25 portions per minute currently dictates the speed of the line, which is well below the weigher’s capability of up to 70 weighments per minute. The new weighing and packing solution offers a range of other benefits. While the old filling system led to many line stoppages, the Ishida multihead weigher has not caused a single fault. “What used to happen was that the different product mixtures would get blocked in the funnel during dosing, which interrupted the filling process,” says Mario Dux.
Today, thanks to its Ishida multihead weigher, Molkerei Biedermann can process these tricky products without any hassle. Equally important, the flexibility that this has given the manufacturer has opened up opportunities to implement new product ideas from the marketing department. Another benefit is the fact that this new weighing and filling solution has significantly reduced product breakages as the system is able to transfer the product more gently into the pots.
Molkerei Biedermann makes its double-compartment products in relatively small batches. To keep the product fresh for longer, the company aims to weigh and pack the product just before it is due for delivery to customers, meaning that product changeovers are frequent. With the Ishida weigher, changing products by calling up pre-sets at the touch of a button on the touch screen display has proved to be a valuable time-saver. To minimise downtime for cleaning, all contact parts can be removed and replaced without the use of tools.