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Automated Weighing System Yeilds Cheesy Results

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:55am

Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA), based out of Tillamook, Oregon, has delivered farmer-fresh dairy products for nearly a century. The company uses all-natural ingredients that, along with their operations and community service, have resulted in numerous awards from industry publications and organizations. For customers, flavor is key, and it’s all about TCCA’s hands-on approach.

“We age all our cheese in-house,” said Tim Tomlinson, packaging manager for TCCA. “That ensures it’s very high-quality.”

Maker of Tillamook Cheese, TCCA is a farmer-owned cooperative that includes approximately 120 dairy families throughout the country. TCCA provides a variety of cheeses offered in a wide range of sizes—from 5 lb. blocks to 3/4 oz. portions for on-the-go treats. Affirming that each of these products weighs the correct amount, in order to confirm correct product quantity and pricing, is an important part of the process.

“We have an automated system that weighs packages as they are transferred down the conveyor and directs the packages as needed,” Tomlinson said, “but we have to confirm that these weighments are correct on a regular basis.”

After a large block of cheese has been properly aged, a series of wires cuts it into smaller loaves. To verify that each loaf weighs the correct amount within a defined tolerance before packaging, an in-line checkweigher is used. If a loaf is above or below this tolerance, a static checkweigher determines how far off the loaf is from the desired weight.

“To meet weight standards and regulations, we use this static checkweigher to verify package weights about every 15 seconds,” Tomlinson said. “For this, we needed to replace our previous standalone checkweigher with an upgraded selection.”

TCCA chose Avery Weigh-Tronix’s E1310 programmable weight indicator with a customized software package for checkweighing. This solution offers stainless steel construction and a NEMA 6/4X rating to withstand harsh washdown environments.

“Stainless steel is necessary, since the equipment we use needs to be food grade,” Tomlinson said. “And we’ve been happy with its accuracy.”

With sealed, stainless steel load cells and 500 percent overload protection, the E1310 checkweigher provides NTEP Class III legal-for-trade weighing. Its highly visible display includes a customized display for simple, efficient visual weight confirmation and for corrections if needed. If the E1310 checkweigher finds that a loaf is under or overweight, it displays how much cheese must be added or removed to meet weight requirements.

“The Avery Weigh-Tronix checkweigher sits on the side of our packaging line so that we can manually check the calibration of our high-speed weighing operations,” Tomlinson said. “And we can communicate recorded weights to our computers—allowing us to download all the collected data, which is really nice,” he added.

The E1310 checkweigher pairs high accuracy with fully customizable serial outputs—including three outputs for controlling external devices. It additionally provides three inputs for remote print, PB tare and other functions, providing TCCA with the flexibility to upgrade their current processes if desired for future applications.

“Right now we’re basically using it for visual confirmation of our package weights, but hopefully in the future we’ll be using the checkweigher to its full capacity, if we automate our backup weighing as planned,” Tomlinson said.

This rugged construction and reliable operation has made this E1310 checkweigher package an effective solution for TCCA, helping them efficiently and accurately produce and distribute premium-quality cheeses with local flavor.
 
“We were looking for a good replacement,” Tomlinson said, “and the E1310 checkweigher is living up to it.”

To learn more about the E1310 checkweigher or other Avery Weigh-Tronix products, visit www.wtxweb.com. To find out more about TCCA, visit www.tillamookcheese.com.

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