The Advent Of Checkweighers In Production Environments

Friday, September 14th, 2018

Joerg Sturhan, Sales Director of Bizerba South East Asia, explains the concept of ‘My Bizerba’ and the company’s dedication to addressing the global trend for customised total solutions.

Beijing in winter time: You are hungry and want to have a quick bite, so you stop at the hawker around the corner with a big old barrel in front of him. It is an oven that allows him to heat up his strongest selling point: a delicious sweet potato. He picks up a big ugly-looking tuber out of the barrel and uses a steel beam with weights and a pivot at one side. He places the tuber onto the pan and instantly tells you the weight and price of your little snack.

This weighing method works in many parts of Asia—in wet markets, fruit and vegetable shops, or street sellers. In fact, it has worked for the last 2,500 years. Back in ancient Greece, there were records of a so-called beam balance or steelyard balance used, just like the hawker on the streets of Beijing.

Luckily, our supermarkets today use scales that are easier to handle and more accurate in the final weight. Thus, the consumer is able to leave the store with a good feeling that they have only paid for what was being weighed at the counter.

A meat plant producing 80,000 packs a day might have a different approach than using the same scale in the supermarket. It needs something that is able to weigh quickly and at different sections of the manufacturing process, no matter the portioning, primary packaging, or secondary packaging. The plant does not need a static scale but an in-line weighing solution integrated into its production line because of the high production capacities. This solution is widely known as the checkweigher, capable of performing 100 percent weighing checks on entire production runs.

Nowadays, you can find checkweighers in many industries including food, beverages, logistics, pharmaceuticals, and automotive industries, among others. The checkweigher is not only used to determine if the final product has the correct weight but also to ensure that the producer complies with the local/international regulations for pre-packaged goods.

Retailers have strict regulations on the content of all the ingredients or parts as specified on the label. They want to make sure that packages do not have less content as indicated on the label (underweight). Completeness of the final product including leaflets, instruction manuals, lids or any other auxiliary parts can be ensured through the use of such checkweighers.

Producers face a daily struggle of ensuring target weight stays as close as possible to the nominal weight to meet the retailer requirements as well as minimise any overfilling, which could result in a higher give-away rate. These aspects result in immediate monetary losses and are, therefore, critical for the overall operation.  Compliance to local laws and standards needs to be ensured in the own interests of the producer. Any bad publicity on underweight products, missing items or non-compliance to laws will affect the reputation of the respective company.

All the factors make the checkweigher an indispensable piece of equipment within any production line.

With the advent of checkweighers in production environments, it is inevitable that producers would want to fully utilise the wealth of data that such equipment provides. This is especially crucial for producers who see exporting as an integral part of their business. This data must be compiled in such a manner that it will fulfill reporting standards in-line with local authorities’ weights and measures requirements. These reporting functions will allow the producers to maintain 100 percent checks and traceability on their production runs.

With inspection being an integral part of the production process, it is now possible to integrate the checkweigher with other inspection equipment such as metal detectors, x-ray inspection or vision inspection systems in order to have a complete inspection solution in place. For those looking to export to countries with high quality standards, producers have to comply with the strictest guidelines regarding product safety, labelling and completeness checks. Having the ability to identify the lapses in these areas without unnecessary complexity in equipment interoperability will allow the producer ease of mind to focus on what is important for their business.

With the emerging trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies through Industry 4.0, the lines are blurring between cyber and physical systems. An automated weighing solution such as the checkweigher is positioned to offer even greater benefits when paired with software that allows it granular line control and data management capabilities. An open system in the integration and communication among the devices empowers factories to develop versatile, fast and effective solutions. Following and leading new developments in products and markets will be easier through a customised software management system that is then able to reduce complexity in decision processes and continuous improvements on the production line.

Not everything will be applicable for each company but we from Bizerba see a global trend in the demand for a customised total solution for clients worldwide in all industries. We address these needs with our concept of ‘My Bizerba’: starting from care and cleaning kits, calibration management, machine health checks, service helpdesk and remote control support, up to software maintenance and extended consultancy on inspection systems solution, we extend our passion and experience to serve the industry with a dedication gleaned over 150 years.


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