Two years ago, 2 Sisters Storteboom, one of Europe’s largest poultry processors, started to produce and deliver a wide range of different retail products.
To begin with, diced chicken, strips, drumsticks and wings were delivered to twelve supermarkets. The products proved popular with more and more supermarkets joining the list of customers which now numbers approximately 300.
In order to improve the batching process and to keep up with demand, the company began to look into automating the process. Marel Stork offered its largest Multihead Weigher, one with twenty 3.5 l heads.
The first step was running a number of simulations. Only when these showed the achievable improvements in the giveaway and, indirectly, also production time and labor costs, did the project get the green light. The two companies put together a project group and work began.
“Marel Stork cooperated very closely with us. Their project manager was very committed, asked all the right questions and was very hands-on throughout the entire process,” says Oortwijn.
“He helped us with defining the right solution, prepared everything for the arrival of the equipment and spent about one and a half weeks at our processing plant during the start-up phase. It was a case of plug and play for us. When we did the very first test-run with the equipment in our plant, the resulting batches were ready for delivery.”
The solution now running at the Zeewolde plant since spring of this year has been designed to run different products and make change-overs easy and straightforward.
Half of the poultry being batched are boneless products (cubes and strips). These products are dropped directly into the trays and generally don’t need any further manual handling.
Bone-in products, such as drumsticks and wings, make up the other half. Here the set-up is slightly different: As the bone-in products require styling by hand, the batches are delivered from the Multihead Weigher to a so-called pace-packing conveyor from which operators retrieve them and place them into trays.
The trays run on a parallel conveyor at the same speed as the pace-packing conveyor.
“With this Multihead Weigher installation we have been able to reduce giveaway on several products as well as improve our overall performance”, says Oortwijn. “Our main challenge with this project was to re-think our production management. We really needed to be precise and create a detailed plan of what product goes on the machine and when.”