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The Big Cheese

April 30, 2020

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Over the past 3 years, MWS Ltd of Leicester has been completing a significant amount of specialist work at Long Clawson Dairy. Initially contracted to supply a manual system for weighing and recording individual cheese weights being fed into cutting, this was installed and tested successfully. After completion of trials Long Clawson Dairy contracted MWS to automate this system in preparation for installation in their new factory. 

Using” WeighLogic” production management software system from Danius Labs to control the stations and communicate with Long Clawson ‘s Microsoft Dynamics Nav ERP system. The first prototype automatic round cheese weigher was built and installed. This high hygiene unit has been developed without conveyor belts, eliminating a contamination hazard in the high-risk cutting area. Using the inherent shape of the round cheese, and gravity, for transportation, the WeighLogic system automatically records the unique serial number of each cheese via bar code scanning and records the weight of each cheese automatically against a work order as it is fed into the high- risk area by rolling down a chute. Daniel Simonavicius of Danius Labs had to build digital I/O functionality into the WeighLogic terminal software to integrate to the PLC controlling the pneumatics on the system.

Up to 15 cheese per minute can be weighed and recorded using the system.

The system was deemed a success and an enhanced version of the system was rolled out to each of Long Clawson’s six cutting lines.

The enhanced version carries out on-line verification to Long Clawson’s Dynamics Nav ERP system. Each cheese ID weighed is verified to be the correct cheese type for the work order prior to being weighed and issued to the cutting department automatically down a chute.

Danius Labs met once with the NAV team to specify how the real time integration would work. It worked very well and first time.

WeighLogic also interrogates NAV for the work order details, and from the NAV bill of materials, dynamically calculates and displays the number of whole cheese required to be weighed into cutting. This is displayed on the into cut terminals themselves (for each line). Data is also displayed on a large KPI monitor for all line’s; it shows the progress of the work order.  The KPI monitor is a web form that gets data from both the WeighLogic database and the Nav database.

The into cut system transactions, are used by Long Clawson Dairy in formulation of a work order Profit and loss report.

As well as the into cutting systems, MWS has supplied two manual cheese management stations to weigh, record and label, waste and by products from the cutting lines, and to transfer cheese between production lines. Each station features a customised solution using WeighLogic Terminal.    All data from these stations is collected into the WeighLogic database from where it is integrated in real time to Dynamics Nav.

Line Transfers

Moving from the high-risk cutting area to the low risk packing room, an automatic in line check weighing system was introduced to weigh cheese packed for deli counters. This belt check weigher allows cheese to be dynamically weighed against a packing work order. These cheeses are packed whole and in rings. The WeighLogic terminal software is the same as used on the automated into cut stations. The work order is scanned on a hand-held scanner, the cheese is conveyed onto the scale, the imaging camera reads the unique cheese ID bar code, the weight is captured, and the cheese is conveyed off the scale.  The data is collected by WeighLogic and integrated in real time with Dynamics Nav.

An interesting application became apparent in the actual cheese making plant. Milk for Stilton Cheese is stored in large Vats where it is treated to turn it into curds and whey and left overnight.

Long Clawson has 11 Cheese Vats. The next day the curds and whey from each vat is conveyed in turn to two mould filling stations.  Experience has shown that for vats that are furthest away from the filling station, more whey drains off in transit.  Previously the mould filling scales were set to a standard weight, this resulted in variable cheese heights after the curds had settled (whey draining from the mould during settling).

The two filling scales were replaced with PC based scales running WeighLogic terminal. A new filling application was developed for WeighLogic that enables a different target weight to be set for each vat. The filling operators are guided by a dial gauge on the terminal. The weights are recorded against a Lot number automatically generated by WeighLogic. 

Cheese Mould Filling Application

This data collected will be used to fine tune the filling targets for each Vat, which will result in a more consistent product, which in turn will provide better cutting yields.

Plans are in place to further develop the WeighLogic system on site with further applications in Packing and Grading at the Long Clawson site and to begin implementation of the system at their second site at Bottesford.

Author

Daniel S.

full stack developer [no other developer types required] :)

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