Due to the high cost of industrial cheese per unit weight, precise weighing accuracy is needed to protect profitability of both manufacturers and their customers.
How Industrial Cheese is Produced
Industrial cheese is produced in large quantities within a highly automated process compared to artisan cheese making, which is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, using as little mechanization as possible in the process. Industrial cheese is used as an ingredient for further food processing, such as for fast-food chains, restaurants, or frozen meal producers. Pasteurized cheese making starts with fresh milk that is pasteurized to kill bacteria. Then cultures are added to help set the milk, which is subsequently churned, processed, and molded to produce different varieties of cheeses.
The freshly made cheese is then transferred to a maturation or storage facility, where the moisture content of the cheese is closely monitored. Once the cheese is deemed ready, each cheese wheel or block of cheese is weighed and labeled before being shipped out to distributors or end users for further food processing. Traditionally, the wheel or block of cheese is weighed manually on a static scale, which is a labor intensive and time-consuming process. Whereas an inline checkweigher weighs each individual cheese product directly on the production line, saving valuable production time and labor costs.
How to Obtain Accurate Weight Measurement
Inline checkweighing is commonly used to provide weight information on the finished cheese products. The industrial cheese market generally does not require a controlled weight range since it is sold by a fixed value per unit weight. Therefore, no rejection of under- or overweight products is needed. However, precise measuring and labeling is still required in order for the final batch weight of the cheese to be calculated for accurate invoicing. Underweight product compared to the label can lead to unsatisfied customers and considerable damage to a brand’s reputation, while overweight product over time could reduce profitability for manufacturers.
Inline checkweighers are widely used to continuously monitor product weights. A typical inline checkweigher system consists of a weigh frame that supports the entire system, infeed conveyor, weigh table, outfeed conveyor, reject device, electronic controller cabinet, and HMI (Human Machine Interface).
A checkweigher weighs and counts products in motion and rejects products that do not meet pre-determined specifications. As a package moves onto the checkweigher infeed, it is weighed using a weigh cell in the weigh table. The package then moves onto the outfeed of the checkweigher to be accepted or rejected according to the checkweigher settings. Usually, if a problem is indicated, a product is rejected and removed from the conveyor via an air blast, bopper, or pusher. The rejected products can also be diverted or dropped into a separate area for further inspection. However, as we mentioned, that step is not usually necessary for industrial cheese manufacturing.
There are several factors to consider when operating inline checkweighers to achieve the highest accuracy, such as, line speed, the stability of the product on the weigh table, and environmental factors such as floor vibration and air flow in the surrounding area. Advances in these systems deliver reliable accuracy in weighing variable package sizes, even those that are large and heavy, without stopping or recalibrating the checkweigher conveyor.
You can read about various challenges and several factors to consider when operating inline checkweighers in our Application Note: High accuracy and speed inline checkweighing for industrial cheese making.
- Application Note: High accuracy and speed inline checkweighing for industrial cheese making
- Technologies and Solutions to Improve Food Weighing and Inspection
- eBook: A Practical Guide to Checkweighing and Checkweighers