By guest author, Thomas Kern, of Bizerba*
In the manufacturing world, what you don’t see can hurt you. Supermarket chains are increasingly requesting higher quality standards from their suppliers in the fresh produce, dairy and general grocery sectors. Demands on your manufacturing processes are more intense than ever, necessitating faster production while still maintaining accurate portioning.
It’s a delicate balance. You need to ensure you’re not giving away too much of your product and, essentially, your profits. At the same time, you don’t want to short-change your customers and risk expensive fines or, worse still, risk losing their business altogether.
It all comes down to accurate weighing.
For a long time, smaller enterprises have resisted fully automated systems by having operators manually use static scales to weigh units individually. However, this labour-intensive process is slow and costly – especially because there’s no guarantee against human error. That’s why, no matter your business size, it’s well worth transitioning to an automatic checkweighing process.
A checkweigher is an automatic or manual machine for checking the weight of your products and ensuring they are within specified limits. Any products that are outside the tolerance are taken out of line automatically, immediately reducing risk for your business.
In 2013, Matthews introduced checkweighing systems made in Germany by Bizerba – we are the global leader of manufacturing checkweighers, industrial scales and software. Here are my essential tips for selecting and implementing the best checkweighing technology at your plant:
When do you need a checkweigher on your line?
To assure the product quality. First and foremost, a checkweigher makes sure that all products leaving your factory door are complete or to a certain weight. This reduces loss — both of profit and materials — while also eliminating returns and complaints by ensuring your products are always as specified.
A checkweigher also promotes efficiencies. It provides a 100% checkpoint that makes manual sample testing and recording obsolete. This improves time and cost efficiencies for your business.
In addition to this, a checkweigher will bring transparency into your production process, by measuring and reporting on your process, giveaways and tendencies in real-time.
Finally, a checkweigher provides peace of mind to management that the plant is conforming to consumer-protection legislation and retailer requirements. It is your “quality watchdog”, ensuring no false products slip through and damage your business reputation.
What types of checkweighers are on the market?
There is a wide range of checkweighing systems to choose from, and technology is continuously being pushed to achieve higher speeds and accuracy with a larger range of products.
Matthews offers Bizerba checkweighers that are:
- Designed for a whole variety of food and grocery items and production lines; for a long time, checkweigh systems didn’t have the accuracy with small consumer goods (such as nuts and confectionary), but the latest systems have more precise technology so you can check low-weight goods (from just 10g) at high speeds.
- Some systems classify and sort goods according to weight classes.
- Other systems are designed for wet areas; wet-area checkweighers are ideal for unpackaged food such as fish, poultry, minced meat, sausages, bakery products, milk and dairy products
Which system you choose depends entirely on your processes, manufacturing environment and business needs. Stand-alone, manual checkweighers are used for weight-based marking and come with an integrated database; while the checkweigh-labelling systems consist of compact, fully automatic labellers. These can either be used as stand-alone machines with manual feed, or they can be integrated into existing automated production lines for fully automatic weigh and weigh-price labelling.
At the end of the day, it pays to do your homework. By researching the different checkweighing solutions and speaking to the experts at Matthews, you can match your needs against the various machines on the market.
What are the top considerations when buying a checkweigher?
To work out the best machine to fit your business needs, consider these five factors:
- Fit for the task: Does the checkweigher fit your requirements? Does it include features that will pay back and give you the best possible return on investment (ROI)?
- Performance: It’s always good to choose a checkweigher with a bit more up the sleeve in terms of belt speed and product memory. This will ensure it meets not only your business needs now, but in the future too. For example, Bizerba’s latest checkweigher systems manage a belt speed of up to 120 metres/minute for weight between 10g and 15,000g (depending on the environment).
- Quality: Consider the quality of components throughout the whole unit – motors, electronics and mechanics. With Bizerba’s systems, all assembly parts are made of stainless steel, comply with the newest electrical safety regulations IP 65 (CWE-Dry IP 54) and meet the highest demands for simple maintenance, safety and usage. For example, they have been specially designed to ensure cleaning the quick-change belt system is uncomplicated.
- Security: With today’s fast-moving technology, no manufacturing business stays the same for long, so it’s important the checkweigh system you use will allow for these changes. Look at the capacity for retrofit, modification or connectivity of additional equipment in the future.
- Local service: As with every part of your automated production line, you need to ensure you can get support when you need it. A system that does not require special service tools or equipment is more cost-effective to run in the long term. And by choosing a supplier like Matthews that will be able to provide expertise and support on-site or remotely as required, you can ensure your systems are always running smoothly.
Where does a checkweighing system go?
Checkweighers sit near the end of a production line, but with Bizerba checkweighing systems there are options to have multiple displays set up along the production line so you can get all the important data at a glance — wherever you are.
If you’re thinking of adding a checkweighing system to your line, speak to Matthews for more advice on 1300 CODING (1300 263 464).
About the author:
* Thomas Kern works for Bizerba. Based in Germany, Bizerba is the global leader of manufacturing checkweighers, industrial scales and software.