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The digital sausage factory

20 September 2019

Investment in cutting edge technology, including industry-specific software, has enabled an Austrian sausage producer to be at the forefront of the development of the smart food factory.

When the Wiesbauer Vienna facility was built over 20 years ago, all the major factors for a smart factory were taken into account during the planning stage. This included paperless information processing, automatic production and logistics processes, intelligent material flow control, and networking with other locations of this sausage producer.

A strategically important element was the integration of all processes into one software system. Enterprise resource planning (ERP), labelling, logistics and traceability are all accessed from the same system which was provided by CSB-System. “It is a big advantage to have one partner and one system that is so closely interlinked. It has rationalised our company in many areas,” explained Thomas Schmiedbauer, managing director at Wiesbauer.   

The design of the factory ensures a highly automated fast process flow from cutting through to production. Movement of hanging meat to the cutting lines is carried out automatically using CSB software. The meat cuts are placed in E3 crates and transported to the high-bay meat warehouse in accordance with information from Recipe Management. On their way, scanners at strategic information points read the crate barcodes including the crate number, weight excluding tare, item number and batch number as well as the destination defined in the CSB-System.

The required quantities of meat and fat are calculated during stock removal, based on the relevant recipe details, and retrieved from the high-bay storage at a CSB-Rack.  Conveyor belts then take the retrieved crates to the mixing unit for chopping. The next stages are grinding and stuffing, followed by the smokehouse and the fryer and cooker units. At another data capture station, the finished products are entered into the warehouse before they are customer labelled and dispatched.

Error-free labels
This optimised production is supported by effective data management that ensures a smooth flow of information. This is particularly important in weigh price labelling, which has to handle a wide variety of products with the need for the correct recipe details and food information regulations to be included on each label.  

This is achieved by the central storage of all relevant labelling details in the ERP system. As a result, changes in bills of materials are made available immediately at all locations and result in automatic adaptation of labels. This eliminates the need for double data maintenance, while the risk of incorrect nutrition information or missing allergen information is also reduced.  

In addition, central data management facilitates the easy handling of mixed packages where various items with different ingredients are combined in one consumer package.

The system also delivers data transparency that provides accurate information to help in the decision-making process, including key performance indicators from production, sales volumes, terms of payment, order rhythms, conditions, rebates, and discounts.  “When I’m talking to my customers and conducting negotiations, I want to be able to decide right away whether it’s a deal or no deal,” said Schmiedbauer.  “For this, I can draw on the calculation in the ERP system, its reports and the customer evaluations.” 

Further optimisation
The technologies implemented from shop floor to top floor at Wiesbauer will also enable further optimisation. Several new digitisation projects will be implemented with the aim of creating a smart sausage factory that is resilient to downtime and can always respond flexibly to the changing requests of customers. 


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