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A high performance process weight controller system suitable for most weighing applications has enabled a small cheese manufacturer and pre-packer in Wales to dramatically enhance their cheese production.
The system was supplied to Lampeter-based Aeron Valley Cheese by Applied Weighing, the UK's leading manufacturer and supplier of process weighing equipment and load cells, and is now a vital element in the manufacturing operation that enables the company to regulate the process accurately and with greater ease.
In the cheese manufacturing operation, cheese is taken up into towers, known as block formers, where the cheese is cut into blocks.
The original weight controller, which was provided by another supplier, gave manufacturing problems as it was not reliable and needed constant monitoring.
One of the problems was that the cheese sliced in the towers was coming out in varying weights.
There was nothing that could be done about this as the original weight controller was unable to communicate back to the PLC to make the necessary corrections.
With this situation in mind, Applied Weighing suggested that the best solution for all the tower weighing systems would be to replace the existing Weight sensors and weight instrumentation, with a closed system in a feedback loop.
Each tower weight controller works in conjunction with one of the Applied Weighing "Intelligent" Weight sensor junction boxes.
These junction boxes allow easy monitoring of the load cell performance and ensures their correct functioning.
These load cells were used with "Compact" weighing assemblies.
These assemblies were very easy to install, give reliable and safe operation and provide the ideal solution for weighing in harsher environments.
The three original weight indicators were also replaced with a single weight controller, the Model 920i.
This controller shows a graphic weight display for each tower and a single Profibus output was provided to communicate with the PLC.
The original PLC programme was upgraded by Circuit Electric, a Danish company that manufactures process control technology for industrial and utility companies.
Jens Therkeldsen, Sales Manager at Circuit Electric and supervisor/programmer of the system PLC programme said: "The commisioning was much easier than we expected.
We received the manuals and the files needed from Applied Weighing so that we could prepare the changes to the programmes.
We were working to a tight schedule on site and, therefore, I was very pleased that the commisioning by Applied Weighing was made so easy.
It was almost like a plug and play project.
I have a very good relationship with Aeron Valley Cheese and was pleased that this project again went well for them".
Alongside the three towers is a conveyor line which comes back on itself in a loop.
A checkweigher on the conveyor belt checks the weights of the cheese coming out of the towers.
The original checkweigher was upgraded by using another Model 920i weight controller to perform a dynamic weighing programme.
This weight controller notices changes in weight from each tower individually and has a single Profibus output to communicate with the existing PLC.
Therefore, it is now possible for the PLC to correct any changes in weight by changing the cheese cutter settings in the towers.
The checkweigher has a vast range of options available.
It is fully useable as a standalone unit, but information can also be sent to and from it via LAN/Profibus/RS232.
Information about many different products can be stored in an internal databank.
The stored product information can not only include tolerances but also information about product routing and belt speeds.
The checkweigher is therefore an ideal solution not only for 'in-weight' checks but also for classification and sorting for a wide variety of different weights and sizes.
This closed system is extremely efficient and has allowed the system to get within 7g weighing accuracy of the 25Kg in the towers.
This degree of accuracy has impressed Aeron Valley as it is extremely precise and has enabled them to have greater consistency in their cheese production.
By installing the new system Aeron Valley are now able to control weights more accurately.
Being able to control the weights in the towers better allows them to produce a softer cheese and, therefore, produce the best quality cheese possible.
Having successfully operated the system at the factory for a number of months, Edward Evans, Chief Engineer at Aeron Valley Cheese, had no hesitation when asked to comment on how the installation was working for them.
Commenting on the exceptional relationship between the two companies, he said: "Doing business with Applied Weighing has worked out extremely well for us.
The system has helped us more than we could have hoped and their on-going service and support has made the whole process run smoothly.
Our confidence in Applied Weighing and their system has enabled our production team to manufacture an even better quality of cheese and will continue to do so for many years to come.
We will certainly invite them to tender for any further weight controllers we may need in the future".
Aeron Valley Cheese, manufacturer and pre-packer of a large variety of quality cheese products, was established in 1989 and can boast one of the finest production facilities in the UK.
Based in Lampeter, Ceredigion, their facilities are extremely efficient and this allows them to produce cheese of an impeccably high standard.
Manufactured using locally sourced raw milk from the lush pastures of the Aeron Valley, their products include Cheddar, Curd, Red Leicester and double Gloucester cheeses.
Their range includes platform scales, silo and vessel weight controllers, drum filling systems, high speed weighing systems, telemetry systems and load cells.
The company has successfully launched Welsh branded cheeses through some of the larger retailers across the country and they provide an important role in rural Wales.
Applied Weighing who not only supplied the system but commissioned the installation, also provide a comprehensive supply, install and commissioning package and after-sales service and support.
Applied Weighing, which was first established in 1990, provides a complete range of weighing solutions and systems.
These are custom built to meet individual customer requirements.
Applied Weighing products are used in a diverse variety of industry areas including pharmaceutical, food processing, milling and bakeries, aggregates and cement, fuel oils, chemicals and plastics.
Their aim is to provide quality products on short delivery times, backed up with comprehensive technical support.
Applied Weighing is an ISO 9001:2000 registered company and is certified for the manufacture of weight controller products.