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Ensuring uptime of safety critical equipment

08 July 2019

Find out how Kuchenmeister, a medium-sized, family owned German bakery, ensures minimal downtimes occur on its safety critical product inspection equipment. 

The company is certified at IFS Higher Level which demonstrates that it has established processes suitable for ensuring food and/or product safety, and that it has considered and implemented customer specifications.

The company maintains ten production lines in three-shift operations at its main factory and  it uses a variety of product inspection equipment for foreign body detection and product conformity along its entire production line - from incoming goods through processing to checking packaged products. It is important for the company to ensure that this safety-critical equipment is properly maintained and serviced to minimise downtime. 

Thomas Engel, head of quality management at Kuchenmeister, takes up the story: “We bake about 33,000 croissants per hour so it is easy to see what damage could be caused by several hours of downtime on a production line, not to mention possible penalties if we are unable to deliver our food retailer brands on time. To put it bluntly, we cannot afford downtime due to a defective inspection device.” 

Because the company uses a number of different product inspection technologies maintenance requirements are many and varied. It uses X-ray inspection for incoming ingredients, such as raisins. Dynamic checkweighers check whether the cake moulds are filled with the intended amount of batter and continuously optimise the filling process by means of fully automated feedback control. Finally, X-ray inspection systems and metal detectors at critical control points (CCPs) carry out checks for foreign objects before the baked goods are shipped.

To ensure its product inspection maintenance regime is fit for purpose, and can respond to changing production requirements, Kuchenmeister has a Comprehensive Care Service Contract in place with its inspection equipment supplier, Mettler-Toledo. The contract covers the costs associated with labour and spare parts, but also includes regular maintenance and cleaning measures; as well as functional tests such as the exact scheduling of maintenance measures. The service intervals agreed in the Comprehensive Care Service mean that Kuchenmeister is able to avoid maintenance-related production losses.

Ensuring line availability
Fail-safe operation and availability are top priorities for Kuchenmeister to ensure it is able to produce its own-branded products and deliver its food retailer branded products. Maintenance scheduling plays a key part in keeping productivity fully optimised. 

Engel explains: “If a seasonal product changes the line must be customised and adapted to suit the new product. As the production line already has to be at a standstill for this to occur, we use this opportunity to have the necessary service and maintenance work carried out in accordance with the schedule.” 

Kuchenmeister also maintains its own spare parts warehouse, which ensures fast in-house repair times in the case of line failures on items like belts and rollers. Operators, quality managers and service and maintenance staff are trained regularly by Mettler-Toledo to ensure they are able to optimise the operation and maintenance of the equipment. This strategy has enabled the company to increase its overall system effectiveness and simplify the provision of evidence as part of its auditing procedures.

Kuchenmeister has been working with Mettler-Toledo for over two decades. “Our philosophy is to rely on a single source supplier,” said Engel. “We have one contact person for our product inspection technology and can coordinate everything – be it service and maintenance appointments or modernisation measures – via that person. Since we are completely satisfied with how this relationship has worked until now, we see no reason to deviate from it.”

Twenty years of collaboration has also given Kuchenmeister a good overview of the advances and developments in product inspection technology over the past two decades. “Much has happened, and not only in terms of detection accuracy,” said Engel. “This is evident, for example, in the higher energy yield of today’s X-ray generators, the increasingly optimised hygienic design and their compact construction, requiring less floor space.” 


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