The company Käserebellen, which is located in Steingaden in the district of Weilheim-Schongau, looks back on a tradition of more than 150 years. Today, just as then, its top priority is to manufacture products of the highest possible quality. Its recipe for success: no silage is used for feeding the cows, just fresh grass or hay - and all guaranteed GM-free. The cheese is produced in a tried and tested traditional method from 100 percent hay-milk that is fresh every day. Today the product range of Käserebellen comprises more than 30 cheese specialities - from the rustic “Bergrebell”, the mild “Rotweinrebell” and the light “Fitnessrebell” to the “Feuerrebell” with its sharp chilli taste and the “Heublumenrebell” with its aromatic hay flower mixture.
The cheese blocks are produced in Sulzberg in the Austrian region of Vorarlberg. More than 300 farmers, of which 100 are bio-milk producers, supply 30 million litres per year of pure hay-milk to the dairy. From this 1,400 cheese blocks are produced every day. Once produced, these blocks are transported to Steingaden for maturing and further processing, as well as final packing. The semi-hard cheese must mature for a number of weeks, and the hard cheese for some months, in the huge maturation rooms before the cheese blocks can be packed. However old the formulations may be, the technical equipment of Käserebellen is the most modern. The company does not just attach great importance to high standards in its production processes, it has also invested in state-of-the-art transport and storage technology. In 2008, the company acquired its own storage premises for cheese maturation in Steingaden with a capacity of 120,000 blocks of semi-hard and hard cheese.
When the maturing process is completed, the cheese is packed to extend shelf life and for onward transport to customers. Since 2009, Käserebellen has used a
MULTIVAC R 245 thermoforming packaging machine to pack its cheese. Base web film is drawn into the machine, then heated and formed in a die to create pack cavities. Then the staff load the cheese blocks, which weigh up to six kilograms. An upper web is subsequently guided over the product and sealed. During this process the air is removed from the pack. This type of vacuuming is used for those sorts of cheeses (e.g. “Rotweinrebell”), which are not sensitive to pressure. In the case of products with special hay flower or pepper varieties, which would be crushed by the vacuum, the air is replaced in the packs with a special modified atmosphere prior to sealing. The packed cheese blocks or pieces are then labelled by hand.
When developing and manufacturing its packaging solutions, MULTIVAC pursues the aim that is critical to its customers: ensuring a fault-free and smooth packaging procedure. That is why we offer a reliable machine design, which is tailored to the individual requirements of customers, and maximum hygiene, as well as simple operation, capture and processing of production data, and the rapid availability of spare parts and service.
Käserebellen uses these benefits to the fullest, and it was for this reason the company decided on MULTIVAC when it acquired its packaging machine several years ago. The packaging specialists first analysed the existing packaging concept and then highlighted potential for improvement. A pack and a suitable system concept was then developed in conjunction with Käserebellen. After the machine had been delivered,
MULTIVAC’s Technical Service ensured that it was put into service without a hitch and that the new packaging solution was integrated in the cheese manufacturer’s production process. In addition to the robustness of the packaging, other important requirements had to be met. One of these requiremetns is the puncture resistance of the packs, allowing for products with small pepper corns to be packed securely. The R 245 thermoforming packaging machine is suitable for producing modified atmosphere (MAP) packs as well as vacuum packs, which means that the cheese producer can pack a wide range of cheese varieties efficiently on the same machine.
The cheese blocks, weighing six kilograms, are today packed in eight to ten batches per day. This equates to around ten tons per shift - there is only the day shift. Thirty different cheese varieties are packed, mostly as whole blocks but also as halves, quarters or eighths, depending on the order situation. Thanks to the MULTIVAC Hygienic Design™, the MULTIVAC R 245 is specially designed for the hygiene requirements of the food industry. Its stainless steel construction with its smooth, angled external surfaces without recesses, corners or edges enables it to be cleaned quickly and reliably - from inside and outside. Thanks to removable side panels, the interior of the machine is easily accessible for cleaning.
“Our packaging machine runs as well as it did on the first day,” says Operations Manager Tino Winterhalter, praising the durability of the R 245. “The quality and reliability in daily operation have really won us over.” Last but not least, he also appreciates their geographical proximity to MULTIVAC. MULTIVAC’s Technical Service has always demonstrated its expertise and good solutions are invariably provided within a few days, if there are any technical challenges. When the production hall in Steingaden was converted, the R 245 was turned through 90 degrees at short notice. The rapid implementation by the MULTIVAC experts ensured that everything went so smoothly, that production at Käserebellen was hardly affected.
MULTIVAC maintains a worldwide service network, which covers the entire life cycle of a packaging solution. Rapid technical help at every location in the world ensures maximum availability of all installed machines. This also includes the availability at short notice of spare parts, as Tino Winterhalter can confirm.
Käserebellen therefore looks to the future with confidence: within the last five years the company has grown by 100 percent to a turnover of 40 million euros - and it has potential for further growth. The MULTIVAC thermoforming packaging machine is ready for this.
Published in the business magazine, Allgäuer Wirtschaftsmagazin (August 2015)
Cut-off length (mm) < 700
Forming depth (mm) < 150
Output (cycles/min) < 14*
Hygiene standard MULTIVAC Hygiene Design™
*Depending on the equipment