Société Fromageré de Charchigné, a division of the Lactalis Group, has operated an Emmental cheese-processing plant since 1985. The plant operates around the clock—three 8-hour shifts each day, six days a week—to produce 36,000 tons of cheese annually.
Officials at the plant were encountering difficulties with cheese block conveyance. A straight conveyor that received blocks of cheese from a hopper and conveyed them toward the shredding area was equipped with a tensioned PVC flat belt that frequently experienced slippage and mistracking, which led to production jams. Fixing these issues led to extensive downtime and labor time—on average, two hours and fifteen minutes each day (13.5 hours weekly).
Once a week, the belts were moved to a washroom for cleaning—a tricky, time-consuming process. Plant officials, concerned that the PVC flat belting might present unseen contamination risks, replaced the belts every 3-4 months.
The plant chose the ideal solution for its cheese block conveyor: ThermoDrive belting from Intralox. Composed of fully hygienic homogeneous thermoplastic with a 100% closed surface, ThermoDrive belting combines the best features of modular plastic and traditional flat belts. Its patented positive-drive system and zero-tension operation eliminate slippage and mistracking while enabling easier cleaning.
Société Fromageré de Charchigné had previously partnered with Intralox to resolve other conveyance challenges in the plant. Intralox’s engineering department supplied the plant’s maintenance department with detailed technical instructions to ensure that the cheese-block conveyor was modified for, and successfully retrofitted with, the ThermoDrive belt.
Société Fromageré de Charchigné has experienced dramatic improvements as a result of installing the ThermoDrive retrofit. Because the ThermoDrive technology has eliminated slippage and mistracking, the periods of downtime and labor time that the plant experienced are no more. Cleaning and sanitizing the conveyor is now much easier, and the contamination risks have been eliminated. The plant’s maintenance department is currently planning to perform additional ThermoDrive retrofits.