Producing approximately 16 tons of cheese each year, family-owned Alpenhain in Lehen, Germany, needed a more efficient refrigeration storage system. To meet the 105-year-old cheesemaker’s needs, a new high-bay warehouse with refrigerated and frozen sections, including a fully automatic fixed storage-cell cooling tunnel, was built.
Voith Paper Air Systems, Heidenheim, Germany, produced the discontinuous cooling tunnel with traversing carriage for cooling cheese specialties such as the baked cheeses the dairy company is known for: camembert, feta and mozzarella sticks.
The cooling tunnel has capacity for 50 storage cells. Cool-down times determined during the planning stage at Voith’s pilot plant have proven accurate after several months of operation. Currently, about 20 kinds of cheese with diverse packaging sizes and designs are cooled in the tunnel.
The tunnel system “is exactly the right concept for our particular application,” says Jochen Völker, Alpenhain’s head of technical project management.
With the tunnel’s air-guide technology, even critical packaged products can be refrigerated. For flexibility, the fully automatic traversing carriage guarantees product-specific storage periods in the cooling tunnel. Intelligent automation modules optimize energy use. The system has spare capacity to accommodate future production increases or products with longer cooling times.
Voith’s pallet-cooling system also contributed to quality assurance, according to Völker.