RFID Case Study: Optimized Ripening Process with Cheese

RFID case study food: Regulation and monitoring of the cheese ripening process at the Sachsenmilch AG

At a glance...

  • Coordinating the individual stages during the ripening process
  • Coordinating several production lines
  • Providing information about the utilization levels of the ripening and sweating rooms
  • Providing information about the specific maturing status of each stack of cheeses

RFID Frequency 134.2 kHz (LF)

The challenge

Optimum maturing ensures that cheese develops its unique flavor and typical taste. To achieve this, the raw cheese mixture must pass through precisely defined ripening cycles at different temperatures and humidity levels. After being sorted on latticed surfaces, the whole cheeses are stacked on dollies. A fully automated system transports these cheese stacks to the correct ripening or sweating rooms. The quality of the cheese can only be guaranteed if the storage period in a sweating or ripening room is precisely observed. Here, it is essential to record and monitor the progress of each individual stack.

The implementation

Process management
The stacks of raw cheeses on the dollies pass a range of switchblades and elevators on their journey to the correct ripening room. The correct decisions must be made at these junctures. Which switchblade should be set? Which elevator is required to transport the raw mixture to the next ripening room safely? This is only possible if the dolly is clearly identified. Dolly recognition is carried out with the aid of a mounted RFID transponder which is programmed with the dolly-specific stack number. The system uses this number to determine the destination point, and subsequently transports the stack of cheeses to the correct sweating or ripening room or, ultimately, to the packaging area. RFID scanners at the entrances to the individual ripening rooms additionally monitor the raw cheeses’ storage period, ensuring that the ripening process is carried out with optimum efficiency.

Quality assurance
Each stage of the process chain is not only monitored, but also closely documented. The production control team is familiar with the exact progress being made by each order as well as the current utilization levels of the sweating and ripening rooms. It is now easy to optimize production lines thanks to precise utilization statistics. And, last but not least, the individual stages of the ripening process can be optimized in order to guarantee a consistently high cheese quality.

At Sachsenmilch AG, comprehensive quality control is a basic requirement in the production of high-quality foodstuffs. Brooks has created the conditions to realize this goal.