Ishida Europe (Switzerland) - The Ishida weigher is part of a brand new line for handling fresh pasta such as tortellini, tortelloni, spaetzle, and "Schupfnudeln" (potato dumplings). The weigher was specially adapted for use at Frostag to enable the pasta to be processed quickly but gently. Its starch component can cause pasta to stick, which makes it difficult for efficient weighing. To prevent residues from building up on the weigher, contact parts are coated with special surface materials. The weigher is fitted with an enclosure to keep the pasta at a consistent low temperature for hygienic reasons and to reduce product sticking during the weighing process.
An elevator provides controlled product transfer to the dispersion table of the multihead weigher. Self-regulating, vibrating radial feeder troughs ensure an optimum product flow to the pool hoppers which supply a set of weigh hoppers directly underneath.
The weigher’s computer calculates the ideal combination for the desired target weight in a fraction of a second. The precisely dosed portions are released into polybags with fill weights of 200g to 1kg.
The Ishida multihead weigher easily achieves its performance target of 60 bags per minute while weighing accuracy is impressive. With the 200g bags, for example, product giveaway due to overfilling is just 1g.
High availability is equally important to the company. "The multihead weigher must work safely and have minimal downtime," explains Frostag’s managing director Christoph Caprez. The company is operating the new line in 3-shift mode, with the weigher in operation for 20 hours a day, five days a week.
The line processes an impressive 58 items from 25 product groups, highlighting the need for quick product changeovers, which are required several times a day. Christoph Caprez describes the operation of the system as "self-explanatory and completely logical. After in-house training, our employees have immediately internalised how to operate the weigher. Product changeovers can be carried out at the touch of a button and the multihead weigher requires practically no maintenance."
Frostag has also praised the ease with which the equipment can be cleaned. The weigher, which is designed to protect against the ingress of water and cleaning agents, can be fully foam-washed. The contact parts are removed and cleaned using a purpose-built wash wall on the gantry next to the weigher, which saves time.
Absolute process accuracy is paramount at Frostag's state-of-the-art plant. An overall control system provides an optimum overview, tracking and regulating each production process in real time. The new Ishida has also been integrated into a line control system, so that its production data can be recorded and retrieved in Frostag's control centre as required. The company is pleased with the results. Christoph Caprez says confidently: "Our internal target of ensuring that investments pay off within five years will be achieved."
Ishida Swiss agent Itech AG, based in Rotkreuz, was commissioned to design and install the equipment. Regarding the reasons for this decision, Christoph Caprez explains: "The Ishida brand stands for quality and we were shown very convincing reference systems at other production plants. Itech was also able to offer a complete solution including infeed and gantry." The installation was completed in three weeks.