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Smallest multihead weighs 1.5g of mushrooms into sauce sachet

20 September 2011

To increase yield and improve profitability for its dehydrated soups and sauces, the Unilever Bestfoods Knorr site at Duppigheim in Alsace is adding the lighter weight ingredients to each mix via Ishida’s specialist ‘Lilliput’ weigher

This is the world’s smallest mulithead weigher, rather than the volumetric dosing previously used.

Laurent Ghesquière, Director of the dehydrated products plant which has sixteen packing lines, one dedicated to producing catering packs, gave an example of the problems with volumetric machines. The recipe for Knorr’s Chasseur Sauce calls for 1.5g of dehydrated mushrooms per 4-side-seal sachet.

This weight could never be accurately achieved, and complaints had been received about the lack of mushrooms in some sachets. The dehydrated mushrooms were also breaking up in the volumetric machines, producing a fine dust which threatened to contaminate the factory and which could prevent the sauce sachets from being adequately sealed.

With its 50cc hoppers and its ultra-compact 650mm by 650mm footprint, the Ishida ‘Lilliput’ multihead weigher was developed specifically to handle extremely low target weights, already successfully handling, for example, tiny but valuable seeds in The Netherlands and feather-light dental products in Switzerland.

The Lilliput can deliver up to 120 highly accurate weighments per minute, with target weights ranging from 0.7 up to 40g. At these small weights, even minor air currents, let alone any actual jolts or collisions, can interfere with weighing accuracy, so the 14-head model installed at Duppigheim was firmly anchored by Ishida engineers with a robust arm.

Not only does this overcome the danger of excessive movement, it also provides a handy way of lowering the machine to a position in which it can easily be cleaned.

Apart from the alleviation of the previous problems, the company reports that switching to multihead weighing with the Lilliput has increased efficiency by up to 10%, with 10 more sachets being filled per minute than previously.

The idea of approaching Ishida was sparked by Laurent Ghesquière’s familiarity with the robustness and reliability of its more conventionally-sized multiheads, nine of which had already been in use on the dehydrated soups and sauces packing lines for many years.

“Not a single problem since 1992”, he reports. “In terms of innovation and reliability, Ishida are to weighing machines what BMW are to cars.”

The Duppigheim facory produces 65,000 tonnes of soup and sauces annually, of which 27,000 tonnes are in the form of dehydrated products. Knorr has a 30% share of the market in dried soups and sauces and soup in cartons.

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