Fonterra, the world’s leading exporter of dairy products, delivers milk and dairy products from farms across New Zealand to consumers in more than 140 countries. Its plant in Eltham, New Zealand, produces a variety of cheeses for sale in New Zealand and Australia.
The Eltham plant’s sorting conveyor system was the source of many challenges. The system relied on a series of pusher arms to direct 10- and 20-kg cheese blocks to their correct lines. This pusher-arm system presented health and safety risks and equipment accessibility issues.
Frequent line jamming was also an issue. Because the system was a designated “lock out” area, the entire system had to be stopped before a manual worker could fix a jam on any single line. Thus, the jams led to elevated downtime levels across the entire cheese-sorting system.
Fonterra-Eltham consulted with Intralox’s Layout Optimization Services to resolve its sortation challenges.
Intralox’s assessment included 3D modeling and simulation services, and cost estimates, for a variety of potential conveyance configurations.
After weighing the options, Fonterra-Eltham chose Intralox’s DARB Sorter S400. DARB technology utilizes Intralox’s patented Activated Roller Belt™ (ARB™) technology to sort items automatically and without the use of pusher arms. This ensures product sortation that is precise, reliable, and free of damage.
Since installing the DARB Sorter S400,Fonterra-Eltham has experienced no line jamming and no downtime. By removing the pusher arms and lockout system, Fonterra has enhanced the health and safety of its workers while easing access to its equipment.
According to maintenance manager Shaun Cadman, “The DARB conveyor system is a major step forward for our conveyor systems. The ease of maintenance is a major cost saver, and we are already planning to install more on our site.”