in the meat industry
Vital-Fleisch: Lean replacement part logistics
The sensor system plays a significant role in automating production and storage processes. Altogether about 600 sensors are installed in the entire plant at Vital-Fleisch, most of them light barriers. As a QS and IFS-certified company, Vital-Fleisch places great importance on freshness and hygiene. That means demanding cleaning routines are carried out frequently and intensively, involving steam jets as well as cleaning and disinfecting agents containing caustic solutions, chlorine and oxidants. Protection classes IP65/IP67/IP68/IP69K ensure that the sensors can withstand these harsh conditions long-term.
Cutting costs for spare parts
And yet: You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. The permanent chemical and mechanical stresses mean that components fail from time to time. Spare parts for the original equipment are often reordered automatically, which drives up costs, requires proper spare parts management and ties up capital. Ultimately enough components must be kept in reserve to prevent the process chain from breaking down. As part of a test series, Vital-Fleisch examined an economical and logistically simpler alternative from autosen.
At first eight optical sensors from autosen were mounted on the conveyor belts and in empties storage. They are used there for the start/stop function and to report full or empty, for example the AO001 retro-reflective sensor, designed for wet areas and the food industry. This compact sensor with stainless steel housing has a colour-independent scanning range which is continuously variable via potentiometer. The light scanner offers interference-resistant background suppression, even with highly reflective backgrounds like stainless steel.
The potentiometer is equipped with a double seal and is also flush recessed, like the front panel. That allows for cleaning with no residue. The coated front panel is made of resistant, shatterproof plastic. The standardised M8 plug connection allows for connection to existing wiring without any effort, to ensure a continuous sealing concept. Handling is just as simple. Tests conducted since then have also shown convincing results in functionality and cost-effectiveness: The operating manager calculated savings of up to 25% in comparison to the previous components.
Vital-Fleisch has specialised in cutting and refining meat products and has been a leading meat wholesaler in the Speyer region for about 20 years. With largely automated processes and a highly modern plant, the medium-sized company achieves a capacity of up to 480 pork sides per hour. The plant was placed in operation in 2004 and has been continuously expanded and modernised since then. In 2008 a new fully automatic deep-freeze warehouse with 1,000 pallet bays was erected on the plant premises. After quick freezing at -22 degrees Celsius, meat products refined to individual customer specifications are stored there before being delivered with the company's own fleet to international customers.