Forster invests in cooling tunnel system
The new building of the new production plant of the Swiss dairy company Molkerei Forster is “a project for generations”. Thanks to the latest technology, the new building will safeguard the success of this family business for decades to come. No compromises have been made with the cooling system either. The specialists from airinotec equipped the new building in Herisau with a latest-generation cooling tunnel.
New building with modern cooling tunnel system
For Molkerei Forster the investment was long overdue: 7 years ago it was already clear that the old factory did not have the capacities necessary for satisfying demand. After five years of planning, in 2019, the ground-breaking ceremony was performed for a modern and bigger production plant, and two years later, in summer 2021, the first dairy products were coming off the plant. The yoghurt products are cooled in the new building in a cooling tunnel system, which was conceived and installed by the Bayreuth plant manufacturer airinotec. airinotec ChannelCool was projected in a two track design. This means that the cooling tunnel is set up for two tracks. Between the tracks there is a service corridor. Each track offers space for ten pallets. An airlock is envisaged at the inlet. With an installed cooling power of 250 kW, the system is designed to cool pallets of yoghurt down from 42 °C to 5 °C. This system, which is geared to the particular requirements of Forster, was adapted using data collected in advance: For example, the cooling tunnel can be individually adapted to the respective business processes, depending on the product type, quantity, filling temperature, packaging and crate geometry.
Fully automated control
Like all pallet cooling systems from airinotec, the cooling tunnel at Molkerei Forster is also equipped with digital control. The cooling tunnel system can therefore run automatically without the need for many personnel and at the same time its energy consumption is optimized. The basis for this is a Siemens Simatic S-7 control system. The internally developed software application based on this, airinotec CoolMaster-CM, optimizes energy-related aspects of all subsystems such as air technology, conveyor technology and refrigeration technology. For example, after all the pallets in a cooling zone have reached the defined product temperature, an intelligent software function module switches it into the energy-saving mode “Ecomode”. This module also deactivates unoccupied cooling zones and discharges already cooled pallets with precise accuracy.
An optimal use of resources with minimal energy consumption is also achieved by means of high-performance air coolers and energy-saving fans. The modern blowing technology, airinotec Rapid Cooling Technology RCT+ with turbulence generators, ensures the even perfusion of the pallets with cool air. This way, a fast, even and gentle cooling of the products is achieved.
Energy optimization with airlock system
airinotec ChannelCool is a state-of-the-art cooling system, which brings a range of advantages: As the pallets move into the cooling zone, they pass through an airlock. In the airlock there is room for one pallet. Only once the outer door is closed does the inner door open. This process prevents warm and damp ambient air from flowing into the cooling tunnel when the pallets are moved inside. This reduces condensation processes and the freezing of condensate on the air coolers. This brings a number of substantial advantages: The air coolers do not have to be defrosted out as often, which increases the availability of the cooling tunnel system. Because heat has to be generated for this defrosting, the airlock also brings substantial energy savings. When thawing has to be carried out, the defrosting management system AutoDefrost – also automated – is brought into action: This ensures that the thawing times of the cooling registers are reduced to a minimum and that the cooling tunnel system has the maximum availability times.
Easy maintenance at any time
Between the two tracks there is a service corridor. This is entered through the airlock so that the inflow of warm air is also reduced at this point. The service corridor can be entered at any time, including during operation – an enormous advantage. Other cooling tunnels have to be run empty, or even cleared out by hand, if the materials-handling technology is damaged or a pallet has jammed. From the service corridor, the materials-handling technology can be repaired and even cleaning is considerably easier due to the service corridor.
Individually adapted cooling times
The two tracks with service corridor in the cooling tunnel make maintenance easier and also have another advantage: It gives the option of setting two different cooling times. The dwell times of the pallets can be individually adjusted for each track. First, one side of the pallet is directly blown with cooling air. After around two thirds of the time, the pallet is turned so that the other side of the pallet is also directly blown with cooling air. This way, each product from Molkerei Forster receives the cooling that it ideally requires and is evenly cooled. The current managing directors of this family business wanted to create a dairy “for the coming generations” with the new building – and with the cooling system from airinotec they have “the best cooling system that you can get for this use”, as the responsible project and sales engineer Dieter Müller of airinotec emphasizes.