Northumberland Dairy in Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada, recently expanded its processing facility, making room for additional processing capacity. Included in the extension was a new automated empty case handling system from Westfalia’s Deam Systems division, involving depalletizing, destacking and washing and transporting cases.
Founded in 1942, Northumberland Dairy has been committed to consistently achieving and exceeding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s plant standards. The company says the new empty case handling system is one more example of this commitment.
Difficulties were arising from Northumberland’s manual depalletizing operations where the top-out destacking system was too slow to accommodate rising demand, and the case washing system was old and inefficient. The Westfalia solution includes a case stack depalletizer, stack conveyors with three to one merging, a bottom-out destacker, and wheel drives transferring cases overhead to a new case washer. Clean cases are then color sorted with a Westfalia case reject system, and accepted cases then transported to production on a new cable conveyor supplied by Westfalia.
Constructed of stainless steel, the entire system is suitable for wash-down, as is typical in dairy or beverage production. From the point of entry where forklift drivers place a full pallet of seven-high case stacks onto the depalletizer, the system is fully automated. Using “clamp and lift” technology and at a rate of two to three pallets per minute, the depalletizer removes stacks from the pallet onto three stack conveyors, which merge into one conveyor leading into the destacking machine. The bottom-out destacker operates at rates of up to 90 cases per minute and discharges cases onto a wheel drive that transfers them via a vertical up-chute to the new case washer located on an overhead mezzanine. After running through the new steam cleaning washer, cases are conveyed on a cable conveyor through a color sensing case sorting unit, where rejected cases are pushed off and accepted cases are released to production.
The system has enabled Northumberland to reduce labor costs, achieve higher operating speeds and improve washing efficiency. “Northumberland chose Westfalia’s depalletizing system based on the performance of equipment previously purchased from Westfalia and on the genuine interest Westfalia showed towards designing a system that would meet all our requirements,” explains Randy Guimond, Northumberland’s Dairy plant director.
“We were particularly impressed with the fact that Westfalia chose to send three representatives to our facility for supervision of installation and commissioning. It’s not unheard of for manufacturers to leave customers hanging near the end of a project, but Westfalia saw it through to completion and still provided support and advice, as required.”