Yes We Can - Ishida Weigher Meets the Challenge of Hundreds of Different Products
A 12-head Fresh Food Weigher from Ishida Europe has enabled leading Belgian delicatessen producer Deldiche to handle a huge range of different products on a single machine, delivering greatly improved speed and efficiencies to the packing operation.
Deldiche sources foods from all over the world, always seeking to offer new tastes and innovations to its large customer base that includes specialist delicatessens and retailers. As well as its extensive product range, the company prides itself on the freshness of its products, so does not keep large amounts in stock but responds quickly to daily orders from its customers. This inevitably leads to short production runs and the need to get orders out as quickly as possible.
While automating the packing process seemed an obvious solution, the many different products and their different handling characteristics was a particular challenge. As Koen Ryssaert, Deldiche's production manager, explains: "We therefore issued a challenge to BRN – to find a weighing solution that would be able to cope with literally hundreds of different products, including very sticky and very fragile delicacies.
"With the Ishida weigher, BRN was able to meet this requirement and for us it has made a major difference to our operation. Whereas before, we would say to a customer request 'maybe we can', now we are able to say with confidence 'yes, we can!"
The flexible layout of the Ishida CCW-M-112 comprises 12 linear belts which feed the hoppers of the multihead weigher. An operator positioned in front of the belts is able to direct and control the flow of products to the hoppers. The weigher's 12-belt feeders and 12 sets of hoppers allow Deldiche to fill two packs simultaneously to double packing speeds.
Equally important, the M-112 can mix two different products into the same pack, with software ensuring that the overall target weight is always met with high accuracy and consistency. This is particularly important for the control of more expensive items.
While the variety of products handled on the weigher – including mixed olives, mixed peppers, African Salad (a mix of chickpeas, pumpkin, carrots and fresh herbs) and Tzay – is vast, one thing that the majority have in common is their sticky nature, either because of their own characteristics or due to being covered in different oils or dressings, while some can also be fragile and require gentle handling.
The Ishida Fresh Food Weigher is able to handle these issues, thanks to the belt feeders which, unlike radial feeders, do not rely on vibration to move the product. All hoppers feature a plastic surface, which also improves the handling of sticky items, while a ribbed finish inside the hoppers and the use of scraper gates deliver a decisive emptying action for complete product discharge and overall greater accuracy.
The most common packs are 150g and 200g pots but the weigher has the flexibility to pack many other formats, even up to 10kg into buckets. For the weighing of products into the pots, special dipping funnels are lowered inside the pots to ensure a spillage-free transfer of product.
The weigher is meeting its target of packing products at speeds of at least 30 packs per minute, with much higher throughput achieved for many items which are easier to handle, for example olives and peppers.
Deldiche reports that the accuracy levels are extremely high across all target weights. As the majority of these products were hand weighed previously, savings in giveaway and time have been immense and for this reason the company anticipates a fast payback on its investment.
The hygienic easy clean design of the Fresh Food Weigher also allows fast product changeovers. For full cleaning of the machine, a special wash station on wheels is rolled next to the weigher, where contacts parts can be attached for easy cleaning.
The CCW-M-112 has also proved to be exceptionally reliable with no problems since its installation. And as an indication of its efficiency and consistent performance, the Ishida weigher can be called on to handle products from any of Deldiche’s contract packers if they experience any delivery challenges.
The weigher forms the central part of a complete new line designed by BRN, which also comprises the weigher gantry, elevators and conveyors. BRN provided full training for operators to familiarise themselves with the weigher in order to be able to maximise its many benefits.
"This has been quite a step-change – from weighing by hand to an automatic process, where the weigher does the thinking for you," concludes Koen.
"Its accuracy, efficiency and flexibility have been of enormous benefit and will help us to continue to grow the business and source even more exotic and interesting products for our customers."