Danone sometimes needed to stop production lines because containers with fruit preparations emptied unexpectedly. Nowadays, after each batch produced, the fruit containers are weighed on the hand pallet trucks that return them to the warehouse. This allows a higher efficiency in production planning and stock control.
"You might conclude that RAVAS took care of a better functioning of the complete production."
- J. LEMMENS, PROJECT ENGINEER
Measuring rest weights: effective handling of product and planning
Danone is worldwide producer of dairy products. At many of their factories, e. g. in France, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Taiwan, RAVAS mobile weighing systems are in use. In Rotselaar, amongst others, fruit yoghurts are produced for the Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburg markets. To prepare these fruit yoghurts, Danone uses 2 dosing machines with respectively 10 and 4 parallel dosing units. At the beginning of these line as are mix stations, where yoghurt is mixed with different fruit preparations. This department works up about 50 tonnes yoghurt and 7 tonnes fruit every day. The fruit is supplied in containers of approx. 1000 kilograms.
The problem of production lines at a standstill
The mixing of fruit and yoghurt is done in batches. Each batch requires a specific quantity of fruit. After finishing the batch, an estimation was made about the rest weight in the container. This weight was registered and the container was stocked for next use. By determining the rest weight in this manner, Danone was confronted regularly with the following problems:
- It was very difficult to determine if a container was half filled or filled for only a third. This could result in a standstill of the production line, because one of the fruit containers had been emptied unexpectedly. Because Danone works with several parallel dosing units on one mix station, this meant that a complete production line came to a standstill until the empty container could be replaced.
- In order to prevent a standstill at the production, someone had to be present at the machines permanently, to check if the containers had enough fruit to complete the batch.
- With estimated rest weights as a starting point, it was difficult to prepare the planning. One was never sure when the container would be empty and was to be superseded.
Exact planning thanks to the RAVAS weighing hand pallet truck
- In order to work with exact data, Danone chose RAVAS weighing hand pallet trucks. After finishing each batch, the fruit containers are weighed on the weighing hand pallet truck. The remaining contents can be registered very accurately. With these correct weighing data, Danone can:
- Prepare the production more efficiently. Unexpected standstills belong to the past: the moment that the fruit container will run empty, can now be calculated most accurately;
- Check when it is needed: it is no longer necessary that someone is constantly present. Only when the batch is finished or if one of the containers has to be replaced at the calculated moment, one of the employees must be present;
- Control the arrival of fruits much better: they know the exact quantity of available fruit.
Very safe machine
Lemmens: 'We were a bit frightened of the fragility of platforms. The containers are often handled quite rough. This would then lead to more maintenance. Next to that you are dealing with a definite restriction. With fixed platforms you define the production course, it is completely fixed. That is why we chose a pallet truck. Now we have complete flexibility.' Another major advantage of the weighing systems, is their reliability. 'It is a very safe machine. In the four, five years that we have been using this pallet truck, we only had one service situation.'