Palletising & Conveying ,
CHEESE MERCHANTS OF AMERICA – BARTLETT, IL, USA
DE-PALLETISING, DE-BOXING AND DE-BAGGING SOLUTION
A completely automated reverse packaging system for a cheese converter in the USA.
Cheese Merchants of America specialises in cheese conversion. Their mission is to convert the highest quality bulk cheeses into products ready for the food service, industrial/manufacturing and retail industries. This includes grating, shredding and shaving of hard cheese and the production of dehydrated cheese products.
The company moved into a newly renovated facility in 2014. Strict adherence to food safety standards and holding superior quality certifications is crucial to their reputation.
A labour shortage in the local area meant Cheese Merchants could no longer keep up with growing customer demand. The company therefore sought automation as a solution to enable expansion of throughput and reliable production.
De-boxing and de-bagging were identified as processes which were ripe for automation. Cheese Merchants approached H&C Automated Solutions to provide a turnkey solution to both operations.
H&C delivered an integrated system to completely automate the process to take 40lb blocks of cheese from the pallet to the production line, naked and ready for processing.
First a de-palletising robot with an integrated vision system to see the stacking pattern removes cartons from a pallet. Next, a mechanical de-boxer removes the cardboard carton, at a rate of up to 16 blocks per minute.
A vision system checks for visble mould on the blocks before they move on to one of two automatic de-baggers – one mechanical de-bagger dedicated to 40lb blocks and one robotic de-bagger which can also handle cheese rounds and wheels, depending on production requirements.
This system was designed, manufactured, installed and integrated with the rest of the existing production line. Installation was completed in late 2018.
Subsequent to the initial installation, additions have been made to further automate processes. An automatic batching process separates the 12 types of cheese being produced and stack them into totes or send to the production line.
An automated, operator-free solution for raw block palletising was also delivered, which included the development of a custom grip head to protect the product and ensure the strictest hygiene standards were adhered to.
The H&C system installed at Cheese Merchants has been running well since installation. It has been one of the key system upgrades that has allowed Cheese Merchants to increase production from two to five days per week. As a result, the payback period for the investment in our equipment has been shorter than they had anticipated.