This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Centralised vacuum system for cheese packaging

25 June 2017

Vacuum technology is playing an important role in helping make an automated cheese packaging line as energy efficient as possible. 

Vacuum technology is forming a vital part of an automated Gorgonzola packaging line 
The Leonardi family, owners of IGOR srl, have been producing Gorgonzola in Italy since 1935. While the method of production and ingredients of this world renowned soft cheese have not changed over time, to the innovative thinking of the company, today IGOR is able to produce two million blocks of Gorgonzola every year and has achieved a global market share of 45%. Numerous quality awards for its various Gorgonzola products demonstrate that, even with increasing use of state of the art manufacturing techniques, product quality remains the highest priority at IGOR.

All IGOR products carry the PDO seal. This European certificate stands for ‘Protected Designation of Origin’ and guarantees that a product is manufactured according to a traditional recipe within a certain geographic area in accordance with strict manufacturing regulations.

In 1996, the company acquired a new 15,000m2 production plant. After several expansions and modernisations, this has now grown to 35,000m2 and is in the process of being further expanded to a total of 50,000m2, to satisfy the constantly growing demand for higher production volumes and a large variety of products. The company has also invested in the plant to ensure that all quality and hygiene requirements are met, for today and the future.

IGOR Gorgonzola specialities reach end customers worldwide through supermarket chains, discount stores and grocery retail. A smaller portion of the produced goods goes to processing plants and the gastronomy industry. Some of the packaged portions are also packaged with labels for different chains and discount stores. 52% of its products are exported, 48% are sold in Italy.

IGOR manufactures products 18 hours each day. After that, the production plant is cleaned. The portions of Gorgonzola are packaged at a total of 25 packaging lines using a protective atmosphere with CO2.The packaging lines operate an average of 12 hours per day, depending on the season. The majority of the packaging lines are fully automated. That means that the 12kg Gorgonzola blocks are automatically sliced, portioned and laid in trays. The trays are fed into the packaging chamber, which closes. The chamber is then evacuated to a vacuum level of four to five millibars. Afterwards, CO2 is added, the trays are sealed with the top foil, the vacuum chamber opens and the newly completed portioned packages are transported on a belt directly to an adjoining room where the outer packaging process and order picking are performed. 

Centralised supply
The vacuum required for all the packaging lines is generated by a centralised vacuum supply from Busch. Even as early as 1996, when the company first acquired the production building, attention was paid to placing the vacuum pumps outside of the packaging room, in a separate room. This set-up prevents waste heat from the vacuum pumps from entering the production areas, which need to be keep at a constant 6°C. This solution helps the company avoid excessive energy costs to power to the air conditioning system. It also enabled a reduction of noise emissions in the workplace. 

During a further plant expansion in 2004, the team at IGOR put a lot of thought into the topic of centralised vacuum supply because sustainable approach to materials and energy is a guiding principle in IGOR’s philosophy. 

Together with Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems, a centralised vacuum system, to integrate the existing individual vacuum pumps was designed and realised. A ring main with a total length of 100m connects the centralised vacuum system to the individual tray sealers in the packaging lines. This consists of a total of seven R 5 rotary vane vacuum pumps from Busch. 

Due to further use of the previously used vacuum pumps, different sizes with different pumping speeds are installed. R 5 rotary vane vacuum pumps, which were acquired in 1996, have also been installed in this centralised vacuum system. The system control is designed in a way that allows the vacuum pumps in the ring main to guarantee a vacuum level between four and five millibars. This vacuum level is maintained independent of demand. If not all of the packaging machines are running at full capacity, or at the shortest cycle times and largest packaging units, then only those vacuum pumps which are really required for the process are running. 

The vacuum ring main simultaneously serves as a vacuum buffer where the required vacuum level is constantly maintained. This helps to make the packaging cycles as short as possible because the required vacuum is present immediately after the vacuum chamber closes and the air is quickly removed.

This control enables significant energy savings that help IGOR implement its philosophy to work with resources sustainably in real ways.

Since start-up of the centralised vacuum system, it has been working reliably, without problems or breakdowns. The R 5 rotary vane vacuum pumps proved to be extremely robust in continuous operation. Even the old R 5 rotary vane vacuum pumps that are now over 20 years old still produce the same high vacuum level and pumping speed as they did when they were first installed. 

Maintenance work is performed by IGOR in-house technicians using original spare parts supplied by Busch. Also, as a basic principle, only vacuum oils from Busch are used. These are exactly formulated for the R 5 rotary vane vacuum pumps and guarantee a high vacuum level. With these vacuum oils, it is also possible to convey a certain amount of water vapour through the vacuum pump without producing condensation that can decrease vacuum performance. 

Another advantage of central vacuum supply can be seen during maintenance work: to perform maintenance, service technicians do not have to enter the production rooms. Instead, all work can be performed in a separate engineering room where the vacuum supply is installed.

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page