Flanders Food Productions (F.F.P. – Belgium) has been specializing in cheese processing since 2003. Its main activities are slicing, grating and packaging of a wide range of cheeses and alternatives. With more than 10 processing lines in an ultra-modern production facility, F. F. P. is one of the leading producers in the Benelux and distributes its products to more than 55 countries worldwide. The full range of products is produced in a variety of packaging formats, ranging from retail packaging to industrial bulk packaging.
Quality and automation
Flanders Food Productions focuses strongly on quality, that is intensively monitored over the entire production line. All incoming goods, such as the unsliced cheese blocks, are subjected to an extensive entry control. The products are then processed and packaged according to strict protocols with corresponding production checks (temperature, metal detection, gas composition, residual oxygen, sealing seam quality, etc.). Another key element is the high level of automation in the packaging lines to guarantee top quality at high production speed.
Seal inspection for flow-packs
For the processing of a variety of cheeses, F. F. P. has recently invested in a new slicing and packaging line. In 2020, their first processing line was equipped with SealScope™ as a part of their continuous quality improvement. “We were very satisfied with the Engilico system on our first line, and it was a logical step to also equip the new line with the SealScope™ system.” explains Ben Verheyen, Technical Project Manager at F.F.P. .
“The SealScope™ system was installed on an OMORI flow-pack packaging machine,” adds Peter Nijs, CTO Engilico. “Because of the recurring cooperation with the manufacturer, the machine is delivered pre-equipped with brackets to hold our sensors, which makes the on-site installation and fine-tuning very smooth. ”
Cheese is packaged under a protective atmosphere to ensure its shelf life. Quality control of the seal is therefore of great importance to avoid open or leaking packages. The innovative SealScope™ system verifies by means of sensors mounted on the sealing bars whether there are folds or cheese in the seal which can lead to open or leaking packages. Also if e.g. the protective tray on which the cheese slices sits, is badly positioned and gets stuck between the seal, SealScope™ will detect the defective package. The entire production is thus automatically verified and when errors in the seal are detected, the cheese packages are automatically removed from the conveyor belt by an ejection system. These rejected products are then carefully checked whether they can be repackaged or go to the grating line, so that there is no production waste.
Monitoring the packaging process
Another important function of SealScope™ is the monitoring of the packaging process. The system accurately tracks production data per product variety, such as the number of good and rejected packages. Because each package is measured, it is also possible to register trends or deficiencies in the production process. In this way, if rejection ratio increases, proactive maintenance can be planned. Or the machine can be timely adjusted, which can prevent production of bad packages and production delays. It is also possible to compare the performance of operators, shifts, lines, etc. Through the exchange of knowledge and experience, the SealScope™ data enables to bring all operators to a higher level.
“The in-line seal inspection system is definitely an assurance for our quality department that, if a line operator loses focus for a moment, SealScope™ ensures that packages with bad seals will be eliminated, to avoid that we deliver defective products to our customers.”, concludes Ben Verheyen, “We clearly notice that the quality of our outgoing production is significantly higher by using SealScope™. ”