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Tetra Pak claims 20 per cent cost savings with new cheese blockformer

By Ben Bouckley , 15-Nov-2011

Tetra Pak claims that its new Tetra Tebel Blockformer will enable cheese producers to achieve electricity, air and water savings of 20 per cent per kilogram of cheese compared to its older model.

Lower energy consumption also allows the new unit (the BF6) to achieve a 25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the Blockformer 5 TwinVac, the company said.

Ulrica Westheim, from Tetra Pak Processing Systems told DairyReporter.com that the machine could be used for cheddar and related (dry salted) cheeses.

Four units had already been sold on the Canadian market, Westheim said, with further sales under discussion; Tetra Pak expects major markets for the machine to include the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

But she added: “We also have Tetra Tebel Blockformers installed in India, Japan, Brazil and Russia.”

The weight accuracy of the new machine (pictured) had also been improved by up to 20 per cent, according to Westheim, with standard deviation of weight 50g in the BF6, versus 70g in the BF5.

Weight accuracy was very important for the firm’s customers, she said: “For some, it is important to have a consistent weight every day. Some of our customers (dairy producers) get a fixed price per block from the trading company. The closer the block weight matches the upper limit of the agreed weight, the better for our customers.”

Vacuum-induced airflow

The machine works by compacting curd in a series of vacuum and pressure relief cycles, gradually removing air and whey as the curd column moves down the tower by gravitational force.

Fused curd is then cut into blocks of uniform size and weight before being ejected into plastic bags and onto a conveyor belt; new curd is introduced to the tower top via a vacuum-induced airflow.

The Tetra Tebel Blockformer comes in 750kg/h (standard) 1,000kg/h (extended) and 1,600kg/h (TwinVac) models, with outputs the same as the firm’s previous model, the BF5.

Tetra Pak attributed performance improvements to an increased focus on environmental and operational efficiency.

A new door system has been designed to reduce curd loss, while the curd-air separation process has been integrated into the tower top to intercept accidental carry-over of curds.

This last feature meant there was less equipment for cheese producers to install – and a consequent reduction in cleaning time, maintenance and investment costs, Tetra Pak said.

Patented guillotine system

Another touted benefit is the fitting of vacuum pumps with frequency controllers to ensure they operate at the speed required – again lowering energy consumption – and Tetra Pak said it had designed the tower to be more robust.

A new patented guillotine system to cut the cheese had also been reworked to allow operators to replace it in around 20 minutes, compared to older systems that require a full day’s work to complete the operation.

Meanwhile, a fully pneumatic lowering and positioning system (within the tower) had virtually eliminated wear and tear and provided reliable lowering and portioning, Tetra Pak said.

One of Tetra Pak’s customers, Glanbia Dairy Ingredients, said it had already worked to validate the new machine. “We will continue to get uniform and top quality blocks with very little product loss,” said Glanbia cheese plant manager Tim Purcell.

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