Factory equipment using the example of a fish factory

Delivering a wide variety of order-specific fish and fresh products to the customer refrigerated within one day - that is the challenge Deutsche See takes on every day. The Bremerhaven fish manufactory's recipe for success? High-quality ingredients, precise craftsmanship, state-of-the-art production technologies and its own refrigerated logistics. Quality, safety and speed can only be achieved through close interaction between these factors. The contribution that weighing and measuring technology can make here is illustrated by selected examples.

Deutsche See, with its headquarters and production site in Bremerhaven and 20 logistics branches, is one of the most modern fish manufacturers in Germany. A total of 1,800 employees produce, refine and market fish and seafood, salads and delicatessen. The more than 3,000 products are supplemented by 100 innovations every year. In order to be able to serve the 35,000 customers from food retail, gastronomy, catering, company and social catering with immediate service, it is necessary to align the production and in-house logistics to the strongly changing batch sizes.

The measurement technology used supports the implementation of the required flexibility and the high quality standards of the market leader. Here, Deutsche See works with Höfelmeyer Waagen, a partner who not only embeds new types of technology in the systems, but also integrates existing modules into holistic solutions. “With Höfelmeyer, we have found an all-round provider who understands our agility, implements suitable solutions and offers an extremely flexible and reliable service in the process. This is crucial for us,” says Bernd Nacke, Head of Work and Process Control at Deutsche See.

Factory equipment - Labeling
Factory equipment - Labeling
Factory equipment
Factory equipment - Process station
Dynamic carton labeller

Deutsche See has a wide range of smoked fish variations. In a manual smoking process based on many years of experience, customer-specific refined products are created.

As part of the picking process, the ERP system provides the orders to be processed. The corresponding goods are taken from the smoking racks by the employees, assembled and packed in foil-sealed cartons. Via the infeed conveyor, the cartons reach the weighing belt and from there the labelling belt. After a final check by means of a bar code scanner, the cartons are sealed, wrapped, removed and palletised ready for dispatch.

In this line, the existing labeller had to be replaced. Höfelmeyer Waagen realised the requirements of Deutsche See in the form of a special development. The closely interlocking manual and automated work steps had to be taken into account here. Equally decisive were the required flexibility due to the batch sizes and the different carton and label variants as well as the provision of the ERP data by a third-party supplier.

The dynamic labeller realised by Höfelmeyer in calibrated design is geared to a turnover of approx. 25 cartons per minute by manual application. The weight range is between 40 g and 6,000 g.

The complete data transmission with the ERP system is done via TCP/IP. The written special communication protocol enables a reliable and at the same time flexible data exchange with the third-party supplier in real time. This means that even last-minute order changes can be implemented directly. Redundant data maintenance is prevented.

The ERP provides up to 5 production orders simultaneously, including the order specifications and the 2 labels required. Accordingly, specific tares are set, zeroed and the label layouts are loaded into the two integrated printing systems. The belts start running automatically and the labelling process begins. The simple weighing takes place in continuous operation; checking tolerances is not relevant here. After successful weight determination, the system sends the weight and a print command to the thermal transfer printers. The packages are automatically provided with a label dispensed around the corner as well as a bottom label. The labels are not stored locally on the printer, but are reprocessed for each order. Deutsche See gains in process reliability and also obtains greater label variability. At the outlet of the labelling station there is an integrated bar code scanner that checks the readability of the bar code and the weight. It thus helps with checking the product attributes and prevents customer complaints. If there are any errors, the carton is removed, otherwise it moves into the film sealer and is then palletised manually. After an order is completed, a new one is loaded into the terminal.

The labeller also has an operation as a simple weighing station and a cleaning mode. It is has a hygienic design. With this special development, Deutsche See gains a highly reliable technical solution that meets the required variability and data timeliness and minimises errors due to incorrect entries or mislabelling.

Process stations

In the commissioning of fresh fish products, it was also necessary to make the weighing and labelling processes, some of which had to be done manually, even more effective. Due to the very small sizes, flexible and fast working is of utmost importance. The fillets produced in Bremerhaven are put together in the company-specific fresh fish returnable crates for each branch. The route to the 20 branches and then through to the customer is taken over by the company's own refrigerated logistics, thus guaranteeing that the cold chain is maintained.

With the Höfelmeyer process stations, Deutsche See relies on individually adaptable scale workstations for manual activities. These space-saving complete systems can be fully integrated into the processes. Depending on the place of use and requirements, they contain a wide variety of modules. For example, their focus can be on weighing, labelling, formulation, filling, quality management, etc.

The calibrated process stations for Deutsche See comprise a solid stainless steel stand with weighing bridge, terminal, IPC, printer including housing and switch. Optimally embedded in the upstream and downstream work steps, the employees can accept the ready-packed transport crates by roller conveyor, weigh them precisely, label them accurately and pass them on by conveyor belt in an ergonomic manner and in a defined space. The weighing bridges are adjusted to operator height. Data is exchanged with the higher-level system via Ethernet.

In addition to this variant, Deutsche See uses process stations with further adaptations, such as pallet scales, 2-printer solutions, tables or communication via WiFi. On request, existing on-site technologies can be integrated into the stations.

The advantages of the process stations lie not only in the improved work processes and ergonomic working. The hygienic design reduces deposits and contamination and enables comprehensive cleaning. The complete solution in one frame allows for optimal space utilisation. If necessary, a service partner is available for all technologies.

Further technologies

In the range for self-service goods, Höfelmeyer has implemented an automatic checkweigher for levelled goods for pre-packaging control, which can be used in a very small space. Previously, there was no provision for weight control at this point in production and no standard system could be placed there.

For the production of delicatessen and salads, Höfelmeyer has implemented various hygienic compact scales, hygienic weighing bridges and drive-through scales. In the process, completely new technologies were embedded, but existing modules were also supplemented with new evaluation devices, software, etc. in several cases. Here, too, the focus of the modernisation was on optimal system integration, user-friendliness and hygienic design.

Lisa Bortz, Sales Manager of Höfelmeyer Waagen, says about the close cooperation with Deutsche See: “We are pleased that Deutsche See calls for our entire product and service spectrum - from compact scales to modular solutions and special developments. With this, we are following the mission of completely equipping a factory with weighing technology from incoming goods to outgoing goods.”

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