German dairy modernises curd cheese operations

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cheese

A German dairy processor has attempted to shake up the complacency
of the sector by investing in more innovative packaging and
aggressively seeking to modernise its production operations.

To achieve this, the company, a top 20 dairy manufacturer, installed a cup form fill seal machine from Hassia Verpackungsmaschinen, which produces tailor-made packaging at record speeds.

Low fat and curd cheese products have been on the European market for decades, with manufacturers traditionally relying on the loyalty of consumers to keep up demand.

But growth in the low-fat cheese market has been slower than anticipated, largely because of increased consumer awareness of dietary fat intake. Consumer dissatisfaction with the quality of first-generation low-fat products has also highlighted the need for improved technology.

The packaging machine type THM 16/80 from Hassia offers a working width of 800mm and is equipped with an 18up format (2 rows of 9 cups each). The cups are made of Polystyrene bottom material 700-1,200 µm thick depending on the forming depth for 250g and 500g.

An innovative engineering highlight is an ink-jet coding on the cup bottom with EAN code and expiry date. For the first time an ink-jet system is used that can code the cup bottom "head first".

This process takes place directly behind the thermoforming station followed by an additional station controlling the safe readability and storage of the data. This data transfer replaces the common bottom labelling, saving expenses for labels and their storage, as well as no more feeding into the packaging line.

Data and batch changes are fed in via the electronically programmable control of the machine.

This convenient machine control also includes a batch related Production Data Acquisition (PDA), which recalls production data, used packaging materials. The PDA allows the complete control of every single cup.

Another core of the FFS machine THM 16/80 is the filling unit with 18 filling positions and a filling range of 220-580 ccm. The CIP filling system is characterised by its high accuracy in weight. The single control of each filling valve guarantees a filling weight that is clearly below the legal tolerance levels.

The CIP cleaning system is completely integrated into Hassia's​ SPS system to avoid additional interfaces.

To provide quality assurance of the products the packaging machine is equipped with a tunnel sterilisation. The tunnel covers the complete area between thermoforming and sealing station. In addition a vacuum is produced in the headspace of the filled cups.

At the end of the packaging line a case packer type Hassia SPH 20/40 is installed. Trays, provided by a tray erector, each hold 12 filled and sealed cups per layer (for 500g cups one layer, for 250g cups one and two layers).

Transportation of the cups into the trays is made by a mechanic clamping and gripping system. Full trays are transferred to a palletizing unit. The operating data of this case packaging system are also integrated into the BDE of the machine to retrace all parameters completely.

In general, Germany's dairy sector is fairly healthy. In 2003, German dairy operators were able to increase production in the areas of consumer milk, fresh-milk products, butter and cheese, though the production figures for evaporated-milk, powder-milk and cream products were down against the 2002 figures.

The production of consumer milk was up by 5.5 percent to 5.8 million tons, with ultra-high heated milk accountable for 3.6 million tons (up by 4.9 per cent) and pasteurised milk accountable for 2.2 million tons (up by 6.7 per cent).

After slow growth in cheese production in 2002, German dairy manufacturers increased the production figure by 2.2 per cent to 1.98 million tons in 2003. The industry raised production quantities for all types of cheese with the exception of processed cheeses.

In terms of overall cheese production, Germany has asserted its market-leadership position in Europe, dominating the market ahead of France and the Netherlands. One in four kilograms of cheese in Europe is manufactured in Germany.

Related topics: Markets, Cheese

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