Getting cheese loaves to the right degree of ripeness is a complex, painstaking process involving robots and all the right connections
Swiss company Kaesaro connects sensors and actuators in cheese cellar robots with Murrelektronik's F&B Pro connectors designed for the food industry - and benefits both in terms of cleanability and longer maintenance intervals.
Maturation is an important process in cheese production. The longer a cheese matures, the spicier it becomes and it develops its unmistakable aroma. However, the ripening process involves a lot of work. The loaves must be regularly brushed and brushed with brine. In the past, this was done almost everywhere by hand and required considerable effort. In modern cheese cellars, this is now done automatically.
The Kaesaro company, based in the small Swiss town of Diepoldsau in the Rhine Valley (Canton St. Gallen), develops and produces ultra-modern cheese cellar robots in conjunction with intralogistics systems that perform this task. They transport the cheese loaves – sometimes individually, sometimes in ‘hordes’ of up to 250 ‘loaves’ – and feed them to the robots, where they are maintained with brushes of varying hardness and brine.
Ripe for removal
They are then returned to their storage places before they are removed from storage – depending on the desired degree of ripeness – after several months or even after more than a year, before being sold. The plants are in continuous operation as far as possible: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For the connection technology in the cheese cellar robots and the intralogistics systems, there are some exciting challenges in this food processing environment. First, it is extremely hygienic, which is why regular cleaning is required, even under high pressure and with aggressive cleaning agents. Secondly, due to the constant transport of the cheese loaves, the connectors are moved very frequently.
Those responsible at Kaesaro decided to connect the sensors and actuators of the cheese cellar robots and the intralogistics systems using Murrelektronik's F&B Pro series M12 connectors. These are specially designed for use in the food industry.
The easy cleanability of F&B Pro results from the hygienic design of the connectors in accordance with EHEDG specifications. This abbreviation stands for the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group, which deals with the issues of how products are designed to be as cleanable as possible. With the F&B Pro, corners and edges where dirt could accumulate are consistently avoided. It is also no coincidence that the cables are wrapped in a blue cable sheath: this colour makes it particularly easy to detect contamination by milk or saline lye as well as mould. This is something that customers who work with Kaesaro equipment in their cheese cellars are confronted with time and again, states the company. Now they can remove the dirt more easily.
The screw connections of the F&B Pro are made of stainless steel in V4A (1.4404). Therefore, they are maximum resistant against corrosion and other environmental influences. If a service case occurs, the cables can be easily unscrewed and replaced. The pluggability of the pre-assembled cables also has the advantage that the installation work is carried out much faster than with single-core wiring. The high protection classes IP65, IP66K, IP67, IP68 and IP69K are achieved.
The high load-bearing capacity of F&B Pro cables made of PP material helps to avoid cable breaks. They are designed for 5 million bending cycles and 2 million torsion cycles (± 360°/m). This reduces the maintenance effort, because longer maintenance cycles are possible. This is said to be a great advantage in a system designed for permanent availability.