In collaboration with its customer, the project team at Ishida Germany has devised a new high-performance packing line comprising fully automatic multihead weighers and inspection systems that is providing full flexibility and enhanced quality control at leading German oat flakes and muesli producer Peter Kölln GmbH& Co. KGaA.
In order to cope with high demand for its products, Peter Kölln required a packing solution that was able to process a wide range of pack formats and be equally suitable for muesli and extruded cereals, which the company markets under the name ‘Fleks’. In addition, Peter Kölln was seeking a high-performance quality control system.
The Ishida solution – comprising two CCW-RS multihead weighers, an IX-GA-4075 X-ray inspection system and a DACS-G checkweigher – is able to handle a variety of different types of muesli and Fleks in different pack formats, with fill weights ranging from 325g to 1kg. The line is capable of speeds of up to 140 packs per minute (70 weighments per minute per machine), with accuracy to within 0.5% of the target weight. The only factor that prevents the weighers from achieving an even higher output is the low fall speed of the light products.
The pre-mixed muesli and Fleks are fed via a bucket elevator onto the two weighers. The cereals pass through inlet chutes onto the dispersion tables, where the highly sensitive Ishida loadcell with feedback to the infeed ensures there is an even and consistent product flow to the radial feeders. All hoppers are equipped with anti-leak hopper doors to prevent fine product from leaking during the weighing process.
In a fraction of a second a microprocessor calculates the optimum combination of hoppers that comes closest to the target weight. These precisely-dosed portions are then released directly into the packaging machine via a timing hopper. Aluminium-coated film is used for the Fleks, while muesli products are packed into clear plastic bags and later into cardboard boxes.
One particular challenge created by the fully automatic weighing of these cereal products is the amount of dust generated. While the design of the CCW-RS weighers ensures gentle product flow, all contact parts are also electrostatically polished so that dust traps are minimised, preventing product residues suddenly coming loose and landing in a different pack as unwanted cereal clumps. In addition, to prevent dust pollution in the factory, the weighers are housed in a special dust enclosure with air extraction.
After weighing and filling, the packing line, which until then has been split, converges and the products undergo a thorough inspection process. The Ishida IX-GA-4075 X-ray inspection system detects stone, glass and metal – foreign bodies that can occur in products containing raisins and nuts – with a high degree of reliability. Bags containing product clumps, which are also regarded as a quality defect, are eliminated using an integrated air blast nozzle.
“As a manufacturer of product with a high brand value, we are very aware of quality and always aim to achieve the maximum we possibly can,” explains Peter Kölln’s technical project planner, Denise Stoldt. “The Ishida X-ray inspection system works a lot more accurately than a competitor model that we also use in our production department.”
The patented technology behind Ishida’s X-ray inspection system is based on software featuring an intelligent genetic algorithm. By analysing image data over a number of generations, the machine achieves an extremely high level of inspection accuracy. Since similar contaminants are usually found repeatedly in food manufacture, the system can, with each inspection procedure, create an increasingly accurate comparison log. A data log collects this valuable information and helps to eliminate recurring sources of contamination. In this way, Peter Kölln can demonstrate that its production and packing processes are safe.
The easy-to-use Ishida IX-GA-4075 features an automatic set-up function and is ready within 90 seconds. Precision adjustments can be made during ongoing production. Up to 100 programmable pre-sets allow rapid product changeovers.
Products undergo a further quality check before end-of-line packing. An Ishida DACS-G checkweigher rejects packs that do not meet the correct specifications. The checkweigher is also equipped with a metal detector, which is used when processing muesli and subjects these sensitive products to a further foreign body check.
Peter Kölln is already benefitting significantly from its new high-performance packing line. Denise Stoldt says that the system is running “really smoothly” in three-shift mode and has reached as table output. “The crucial factor is the enormous flexibility offered by the new line, which allows us to process a very wide range of products on one system at high speed.” The technical upgrade has also enabled the company to add a new oat flake product to its range
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