System integration boosts cheese plant's production capacity

Finding the room for needed packaging automation equipment was only one obstacle faced by Berner Cheese Corp., a custom packer in Dakota, Ill. Another was the need for interconnectivity between machines operating in a job-shop environment.

Berner packs glass jars, aerosol cans and squeezable plastic containers. The company wanted to boost line speeds by 33 percent to150 percent, depending on container type. To meet that objective, Berner retained Centerline Systems Inc. (CSI), the Batavia, Ill., representative of AMBEC Inc., to integrate equipment in a production area of less than 8,000 square feet. Berner also asked AMBEC to provide a tabletop conveyor and pressureless combiner.

The firm wanted to achieve line speeds of 300 containers per minute (cpm) on round packages and 120 cpm for the squeeze bottle. The fastest rate at the time was 120 cpm, with squeeze-cheese production running at less than 90 cpm. To meet the goal, the firm needed to integrate a wrap-around case/tray packer, a 24-spout piston filler, an air rinser, three aerosol gasser/pluggers and a labeler with the following equipment: separate cappers for glass, squeeze and aerosol; a rotary valve inserter and crimper for aerosol; two labelers; metal detectors; and a depalletizer.

Because of the handling difficulties with squeeze cheese, designers isolated the squeeze filling and capping, installing two bypasses to separate those containers until they were conveyed to the cooler. The rotary air rinser, eight-spout piston filler/capper/induction sealer for the squeeze cheese was aligned parallel to the gripper/rinser, 24-spout piston filler, capper and induction sealer for the other containers.

Conveying filled packaging to a double-decked cooler was one of the biggest engineering challenges. The aerosol cans are two-piece aluminum with a rounded bottom, making them prone to tipping. Glass containers tended to slip when conve ying elevations changed. These and other problems had to be resolved prior to equipment installation to avoid potentially ruinous downtime.

Fully modulated line controls were essential to run the packaging line at 300 cpm, so CSI installed its proprietary modular mounting platform to manage 55 motors and 33 variable frequency drives. As a result, each conveyor system changeover can be handled at the main control panel. The plant floor already was networked through an Allen-Bradley DeviceNet, facilitating a full supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system that allows Berner to better track production costs. The system also enables CSI to troubleshoot the line off-site with a dial-up connection.

The payoff from the packaging overhaul was immediate: Even the difficult-to-handle squeeze cheese saw a 50 percent gain in production volume. Production volume from one shift now is double the output achieved from two shifts prior to the installation.

FE Ambec, 10330 S. Dolfield Rd., Owings Mills, MD 21117. (410) 363-4400.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo 2015

Images from Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo in Clearwater Beach, Florida, April 12-15, 2015. The event brought food and beverage processors and suppliers together to gain valuable information on the latest trends and technologies in manufacturing, automation, sustainability and food safety.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering May 2015 Cover

2015 May

The May 2015 issue of Food Engineering explores effective tools for hitting manufacturing targets. Also, read how processors are looking for faster ways to detect harmful pathogens in food and beverages without sacrificing accuracy or reliability.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.