A space saving of some 15 linear metres, a production increase of over 10 tons per day and even better quality meat products: an enforced refurbishment of the cold store of food company Vion in Scherpenzeel in Gelderland worked out better than originally thought. A practical customised solution implemented by Van Beek Schroeftransport not only ensured the required reorganisation of a smaller production floor. Automation of the production line also did away with time-consuming manual operations. As a result Vion saw its production volume double. “The solution really proved its worth!”, says Emil Veenendaal, Technical Manager at Vion.
Lugging around standard bins weighing 175 kilos is now a thing of the past at Vion. The 60 bins in total, with which meat cut into blocks were moved to and from seasoning mixers and filling machines, have been replaced by three U-shaped trough conveyors and two vertical, splittable screw conveyors. According to Veenendal the production process has been made easier by the removal of the standard bins, less physically demanding and faster. “Previously the meat remained in the standard bin longer, waiting for the next operation. People decide the speed, but I would rather a machine decide the speed. Now we no longer have any intermediate buffers and we can maintain continuous production because everything is in one line”, states the Technical Manager. Result? An appreciable increase in production from 50-60 tons to over 100 tons of meat per week and better quality meat products.
Space saving due to vertical screw conveyor
Since it was established Vion has increased its staff to 12,445 and several slaughterhouses and processing sites in both the Netherlands and Germany. Due to the increasing demand for a wide range of sizes and packaging forms from for example the US, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, there has been an increasing call for a slicing department. The size of the over 30 metre long production room in Scherpenzeel, where moving standard bins full of meat cut into blocks was the order of the day, has been halved because of this. The reorganisation of the same production line on only half the number of square metres was rightly called a challenge. To Veenendaal’s great satisfaction, Van Beek offered a vision for the future with customised vertical screw conveyors. “It now goes straight up. It is perfect, everything now fits very compactly together. The great thing about screw conveyors is, that they now go up to a height of 3 metres. But if that needed to be 10 metres, that is also possible!”
Compact production line
Peter Verhoeven, sales engineer at Van Beek, designed the automated, compact production line for Vion. For this he used both vertical and horizontal screw conveyors, where the principle of vertical transport differs from that of horizontal transport. “For vertical transport the screw throws the meat to the outside, there is a centrifugal or centripetal force. In combination with the speed this creates a lifting action”, explains Verhoeven. “In addition the production line has now become much more compact and hygiene greatly improved, because the conveyors are closed.” The sales engineer takes into account in his design good accessibility for the maintenance engineers and cleaners. So he proposed hinged covers for the three trough conveyors over their whole length and made the body of the two vertical, splittable screw conveyors hinge through 180 degrees. As a result all five conveyors can be optimally cleaned, maintained and inspected. In addition filling the seasoning mixers with one screw conveyor has been automated, where this was previously a manual process.
Lucrative customised solution
Veenendal has no doubt that the customised solution that Van Beek has installed has proved itself. “Space has been reduced, production increased and hygiene guaranteed by a special treatment of the stainless steel screw conveyors. In addition we have got a better quality product, because there are no longer any intermediate buffers: we can now process the meat immediately.” According to him the installation went very smoothly and the project had no teething troubles. The Technical Manager is also very impressed with the cooperation with Van Beek. Vion does not therefore exclude fresh cooperation in the future. Also, the food company is at present investigating options for replacing another phase in the production line with screw conveyors. Aim? To simplify and speed up the production process. “We work with a lot of conveyor belts, that also require a great deal of maintenance. A screw conveyor requires less maintenance, but is not suitable for handling large pieces of meat. We are now investigating whether we can replace some conveyor belts in the production process with screw conveyors”, says Veenendaal.