Founded in 1919 in Cabot, Vt., Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Founded in 1919 in Cabot, Vt., Cabot Creamery Cooperative is a $200 million business that is nationally recognized as a maker of award-winning cheddar cheese. On the opposite side of the country in San Bernadino, Calif., family-owned Farmdale Creamery has grown into one of the country's leading specialty cheese makers.

Cabot operates as a commercial and consumer business, selling cheese and other products directly to customers and to creamery visitors. Farmdale Creamery primarily sells its products to cut and wrap operations that repackage the cheese under various brand names and private labels.

Before installing the automatic cheese loading systems, both companies relied on employees to perform the repetitive task of muscling cheese into bags or pouches.

"Cabot and Farmdale wanted an automated packaging solution that would help them best use employees and keep the production lines going," says Charles Dunlap, marketing director, dairy packaging for Sealed Air's Cryovac Food Packaging division. "The Cryovac® CL20 is designed to enhance operational efficiency, and we knew the automated technology could help these companies achieve their goals."

"The CL20 works amazingly well," says Marcel Gravel, plant manager at Cabot. "Since the installation, we have experienced consistent high-quality products, very minimal downtime and lowered labor costs. We also have fewer product returns because the CL20 pouches have far less wrinkles than the bags we used previously." Since installing the CL20, we have been able to save nearly $63,000 in direct labor costs." Additional savings have been realized in terms of employee injury reduction and productivity improvements.

Norm Shotts, president of Farmdale Creamery, was the first in the United States to purchase the CL20. "The CL20 has worked extremely well, fit easily into our plant space and caused minimal disruption during the installation phase," Shots says. "Since we installed our systems two years ago, we have been able to reduce the number of workers on line from three to one. Since 2000, we have saved an estimated $180,000 in labor costs."

Cryovac's CL20 packaging system eliminates the difficult task of hand bagging 40 lb blocks and provides a more uniform wrapper appearance for the two cheesemakers.

Redirecting Labor

At Cabot Creamery, two cheese towers run continuously. Before the process was automated, operators had to be present and alert whenever a block emerged from the towers - approximately every 30 seconds. With three towers, Farmdale also had to dedicate employees to the task of manning the blocks as they came from the towers.

The Cryovac CL20 system offered the ideal solution for Cabot and Farmdale. It enabled both companies to achieve and maintain production goals, significantly reduce labor dedicated to the cheese towers and direct the newly available labor to other areas of the operations. The job of loading 40-pound cheese blocks into bags suddenly became much easier and virtually injury free.

With the assistance of Cryovac technical support, Cabot Creamery installed two CL20s and Farmdale installed three. In each case, in less than two days' time, the automated loading systems were incorporated into the companies' operations.

"The installation process was virtually seamless," said Shotts. "Cryovac had the system up and running quickly and smoothly, with minimal disruption to our operations."

Created with two goals in mind-simplicity and modularity-the Cryovac CL20 in-line system automatically ejects blocks of cheese directly into gusseted pouches, then prepares them for sealing and vacuumizing. Designed with plug-in modules for quick servicing and product changeovers (it stores more than 300 pouches in a removable cassette) the CL20 is equipped with a pick-and-place module, bag-opening module, gripper system, an alignment chute and pouch spreader plates. It can be converted immediately to manual operation in the event of a malfunction so that no production time is lost.

The CL20 works in tandem with the Cryovac® RG20, a re-gusset machine that automatically folds and prepares pouches for vacuumizing. Cheese blocks move from the tower to the end of the packaging line without human intervention.

About Cabot Creamery
Cabot Creamery Cooperative makes a full line of cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Cabot dairy products have won virtually every major award for taste.

About Farmdale Creamery
Farmdale Creamery is a privately-owned company started in the 1950s and specializing in the manufacturing of 40-pound blocks of cheese and sour cream.