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JodyP September 24, 2019

Leading German manufacturer of cakes for the foodservice industry Pfalzgraf Konditorei is using advanced Ishida technology for both precision dosing of fruit toppings onto its cakes and tortes, and to meet its stringent quality standards.

In one of the most state-of-the-art factories in Europe, Pfalzgraf Konditorei has installed an Ishida 6-head linear multihead weigher, which has reduced overfilling to practically zero; a DACS-G checkweigher for regional weight compliance; and an IX- GA-4075 x-ray inspection system that is capable of detecting foreign bodies with a diameters of less than 1mm.

The 6-head Fresh Food Weigher (FFW) was specifically developed by Ishida for sticky fresh products and smaller production batches. Product is delivered via a conveyor belt to the top of the weigher. An operator evenly distributes the fruit via six belt feeders to the weigh hoppers, and can visually inspect the fruit at the same time to ensure an even distribution. This increases both the speed and efficiency of the weighing process, while special scrapers on the plastic hoppers reduce product sticking to the contact parts.

Once they have been weighed, the fruit portions are filled directly onto the tortes and cakes through a small filling system which was specially adapted to suit the product requirements and the shapes and sizes of the different cakes (round or square)

Pfalzgraf Konditorei handles a wide range of products on the FFW in a two-shift operation. The baked goods are topped with raspberries, strawberries, forest fruits, mandarins and a variety of fruit mixtures. The fill weights range from 240 g to 2500 g with a maximum speed of 16 cycles per minute. In view of the high price of fruit, however, precision is a decisive factor. According to production manager Stephan Koller, the weigher has increased productivity significantly. “The old volumetric dosing method placed 20 to 30 g too much fruit on each product,” he explains. “Now, overfilling is practically zero.”

For the baked goods manufacturer, the Ishida machine has proved to be a highly cost-effective solution that paid off in just a short time. Another advantage, says Koller, is that the system is very gentle in its handling of the products, which helps largely to prevent any damage to the soft fruits.

The handling of wet fruit means that extensive cleaning work is frequently necessary– something else for which the FFW is well suited. Stephan Koller says that the waterproof tool is “very hygiene-friendly”. The weigher’s contact parts can be completely dismantled without the need for tools and can be cleaned in an industrial cleaner, while the main body can be hosed down.

At the end of the production line, the Ishida DACS-G checkweigher checks the packed cakes to ensure that they comply with regional weigh directives. Stephan Koller says that the authorities are extremely happy with the results of the weight checks. The checkweigher ensures not only high precision at maximum speeds, but is also very flexible. The operator can switch between two weight ranges at the touch of a button, which means that the DACS-G can be used for a wider range of products. In case of external disturbances (such as during clean down), a unique Ishida-patented Force Dislocating Limiter (DFL) automatically disconnects the weighing sensor from the weigh belt to protect the sensitive loadcell from excessive load damage.

Pfalzgraf Konditorei is committed to meeting the highest standards of quality, and guarantees to its clients that its products are free from foreign bodies. A metal detector was not an option for Pfalzgraf, says Stephan Koller. “We don’t want to check just for metal contaminants, but for a whole range of other items, too.” This is why the Ishida IX-GA 4075 x-ray inspection system has been installed as the final station on the line. Even at high speeds, the system reliably detects foreign bodies with a diameter of less than1 mm. For example, the tortes and cakes may contain tiny pieces of granite that have entered the product with the fruit. The IX-GA 4075 also identifies pieces of metal, glass and higher density plastic.

The patented technology behind Ishida’s x-ray inspection systems is based on software incorporating an intelligent genetic algorithm. By analysing image data over a number of generations, the machine achieves an extremely high level of inspection accuracy. Since similar contaminants are usually found again and again in the cakes and tortes, the system can be optimised to look for these objects.

“This allowed us to modify the system to suit the specific properties of our products,” says Stephan Koller. “Each generation contributes to creating an increasingly accurate comparison log.” The system can be calibrated quickly and easily by passing an x-ray beam through a test object two to three times. A data log verifies that the production processes were performed in the correct manner and also supplies information for process optimisation.

It did not take long for the employees of Pfalzgraf Konditorei to familiarise themselves with this largely maintenance-free Ishida x-ray inspection system. Following an automatic setup procedure, the easy-to-operate machine is ready for action in just 90 seconds. Fine-tuning can be carried out during production. Up to 100 programmable pre-sets allow rapid product changeovers.