EFFECTIVE UPGRADE

Multivac helps major cooperative improve its plant packaging system, significantly reducing costs.

Dairy Farmers of America Inc. (DFA) is one of the country’s most diversified manufacturers of dairy products, food components and ingredients. Cooperatively owned and operated by more than 20,000 dairy farmer-members, DFA produced and marketed nearly 60 billion pounds of milk products last year.
The cooperative’s members have an interest in the success of DFA and depend on the organization to creatively and cost-effectively process their milk into a variety of marketable products. To accomplish this, DFA recently added a Multivac thermoform fill-seal rollstock system to its Turlock, Calif., facility.
DFA’s Turlock facility produces and packages mozzarella, provolone, condensed whey protein concentrate and cream for numerous foodservice clients spanning the western United States. To package its 6-pound blocks of mozzarella cheese, the cooperative was utilizing both rollstock and vacuum chamber machines to account for variations in the shapes of the blocks.
“When a cheese product has a high fat content, the shape of the cheese tends to change during the cooling process,” says Tom Baker, DFA’s Turlock production manager. “Our previous rollstock machine could not always accommodate these size variations, so we needed to package some cheese blocks on the vacuum chamber machine.”
DFA began packaging mozzarella exclusively on the vacuum chamber machine when its old rollstock system broke down beyond repair. Operators now had to place the cheese blocks into preformed bags for positioning on the machine to be vacuum sealed and trimmed. This method was inefficient and labor intensive when compared to the thermoforming process. The vacuum chamber machine also produced a relatively high number of leakers, requiring rework and causing further inefficiencies.
Baker researched new thermoforming equipment and chose a Multivac R240 based on recommendations for superior engineering and package consistency. “A number of technical people I spoke with were very impressed with Multivac machinery,” he says. “With our needs, I had to have something extremely reliable and durable.”
Dealing with large cheese blocks, Baker also notes that the loading area on the Multivac R240 is wide enough to accommodate any shape changes that could occur during the cheese cooling process. This was also key in his decision.
Using the R240, DFA has reduced packaging material costs by 50 percent, as the machine economically utilizes flexible films to produce customized pockets. The film used with the rollstock machine is also less costly than the preformed bags required for vacuum chamber packaging. Expediting the product loading process with the R240 has also enabled DFA to maintain increased production speeds utilizing one less person. This has lowered operating costs and increased the co-op’s return on its packaging investment.
“While a dramatic improvement, DFA’s great results in production output and package quality are not uncommon with our rollstock equipment,” says Bob Koch, director of sales for Multivac’s food division. “Numerous companies of all sizes have leveraged our thermoforming technology to reduce their packaging material costs and lower overhead expenses to help spur growth. We look forward to working with DFA for many years to come.” — Multivac Inc., 11021 N.W. Pomona Ave., Kansas City, Mo., 64153, phone: (816) 891-0555, fax: (816) 891-8958, Web site: www.multivac.com