Vandemoortele in Seneffe produces frozen donuts in various sizes and colours, which means their packaging line needs to be flexible and rapidly adjustable. In addition, donuts production cannot just be stopped if a fault develops in the line somewhere. intrion constructed an installation prepared to meet every eventuality.
24,000 donuts per hour
The packaging process starts with a tray former with an in-built buffer function. Six picker robots fill these trays with all kinds of donuts. Vision systems determine the donuts’ location on the conveyor belt, as well as the orientation, shape, diameter and quality. The robots then organize the data to place the donuts in the trays in the most appropriate way, reaching speeds of up to 24,000 an hour. Next the trays are packed in flowpack and run through a heat tunnel which shrinks the film. A second buffer has been inserted here for filled trays.
Suitable for all sizes of boxes
A four axis robot places the filled trays into automatically shaped external boxes. This unit also has a buffer for empty external boxes. Once filled, the boxes are weighed, sealed and provided with an inspection label. Finally, the boxes move through a buffer to the palletisation unit. This unit processes all the various box shapes, as well as three pallet types along with the accompanying divider sheets.
Everything under control
Manual bypasses have been included throughout the entire installation to deflect product flow in the event of a machine developing a fault. Micro stops are handled with the buffers, longer stops require the use of the bypasses. This allows automated donut production to continue regardless.
We check all steps in the packaging process: donuts numbers, quality, weight, the printed data, metal parts,… If an item does not conform to stringent standards, the donut or tray will be removed to one of the reject stations.
“intrion is a partner who grabs the bull by the horns and leads the project from start to finish. This enabled us to focus on our product, our processes and of course our all-important quality,” explains Brice Gantz, Vandemoortele Seneffe plant manager.
Smooth start thanks to operators’ training
A key aspect was the technical staff’s and operators’ training. Together with Vandemoortele’s project leader, we paid considerable attention to this. “The operators must become the installation’s ‘owner’ as quickly as possible, as this will result in full commitment,” explains the project leader. The operators were engaged in the project from the very start of the installation’s construction in our workshop. They created their own manual, including handy tips, pictures, etc. This resulted in a smooth and efficient start-up.
Vandemoortele markets bakery products to bakeries and independent croissanteries across Belgium. Their frozen selection has grown considerable since launching their frozen department in 1978 in Belgium, offering puff pastry sheets, croissants and chocolate buns. The selection now includes breakfast rolls, baguettes, viennoiserie, puff pastry sheets, sweet and savoury snacks, patisseries and American products such as donuts and muffins.