The right vacuum solution not only ensures product quality in meat processing operations; it also helps companies achieve important sustainability goals. Such is the case at two leading meat processing companies in Germany, both of whom added Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems solutions to their operations and saved energy and more as a result.
Dieter Hein: Increasing Efficiencies and Improving Sustainability
EG Fleischwarenfabrik Dieter Hein GmbH & Co. KG produces a wide array of meat and sausage specialties for customers across Europe and the United States. The story of Fleischwarenfabrik Dieter Hein began over 80 years ago, with a butcher shop in Görlitz established by master butcher Georg Hein. His son Dieter Hein continued the tradition, opening a small shop in Osnabrück in 1961. The next step in the company's development was the inauguration of the current meat production factory in Hasbergen on the outskirts of Osnabrück in 1975. A second production facility opened in Görlitz in 1996.
As a comprehensive supplier, Dieter Hein produces cold cuts of meat for wholesalers, ranging from ready-to-serve roast convenience foods – such as meatballs, kebab meat burgers and crispy sliced bacon – to specialty produce for delicatessens, such as uncooked, cold meat, ham, roast meats, turkey and much more.
Dieter Hein is well known for its meat and sausage specialties.
As a company committed to environmental awareness, Dieter Hein has always strived toward energy-efficient production and preserving resources. With these goals in mind, it set out to further increase the efficiency of its central vacuum supply at its Hasbergen production plant.
Industry 4.0-ready Vacuum Pump Vetted
Given its focus on energy conservation, Dieter Hein had already installed a centralized vacuum supply for its packaging machines at the plant, consequently tapping into huge energy-savings potential. To save even more energy, it installed a Busch R 5 RA 0760 A PLUS rotary vacuum pump on the central vacuum system. Dieter Hein is Germany's first-ever meat processor to pilot the Busch R 5 PLUS vacuum pump, which is Industry 4.0-ready and equipped with built-in pressure control and a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).
At the processing plant, more than 300 employees work in three shifts, whereby the third shift is tasked with cleaning. Produce is packaged using a total of nine automatic thermoforming machines, which are connected to a central, fully automatic, on-demand vacuum supply. A vacuum pumping unit generates the rough vacuum for pre-evacuating the packaging chambers to 45 millibars. Control valves activate a fine vacuum pumping unit as soon as the system has generated the 45 millibars at which point a second evacuation process starts to reduce the conditions in the packaging to a vacuum level of 3 to 4 millibars. A third vacuum module generates the vacuum for thermoforming the base foil in the forming station of each individual packaging machine.
To cut the energy consumption even further, Dieter Hein’s Thomas Pelke, Head of Maintenance, and Bernd Wörner, Head of the Energy Division, decided to trial Busch's R 5 PLUS vacuum pump.
Shown is the Busch R 5 RA 0760 A PLUS rotary vacuum pump at Dieter Hein’s plant in Hasbergen, Germany.
The vacuum pump features a frequency-controlled motor and an integrated control unit as standard. A pressure sensor permanently measures the vacuum level at the inlet to the vacuum pump. As a result, the R 5 PLUS can quickly respond to any change in demand by adapting the pumping speed to current requirements. The control range stretches from 35 to 60 hertz, equivalent to a pumping speed of 440 to 760 cubic meters per hour.
The new vacuum pump was integrated into the central vacuum supply at the end of 2018, replacing the unregulated rotary vane vacuum pump with a pumping speed of 630 cubic meters per hour. Installed over 20 years ago, the existing pump was responsible for maintaining the system's rough vacuum. The new vacuum pump was not connected to the central vacuum supply's control unit as it is self-regulating. The control system was programmed using the built-in display, though this was restricted to setting the required vacuum level to 45 millibars.
Varied Vacuum Levels Satisfied with Less Energy
It only took a few weeks of operating time for the benefits of this intelligent vacuum pump to come to the fore. In the previously installed central vacuum system, the rough vacuum tended to fail when multiple packaging machines suddenly required a high pumping speed and the vacuum pump had already been switched off because the required vacuum level had been reached. As a result, the unregulated vacuum pump had to restart first and it consequently took longer to reach the full pumping speed of 630 cubic meters per hour.
The new R 5 PLUS maintains a speed of 35 hertz. At this speed, it consumes roughly 60 to 70% of the nominal motor rating of 18.5 kilowatts while also maintaining the selected vacuum level. So, if the pumping speed suddenly increases – for instance, if several packaging machines are switched on at the same time to operate at the same speed – the R 5 PLUS reacts straight away and can increase the output up to 120% until the surge in demand has been satisfied.
The vacuum pump’s 7.5-inch display lets Wörner keep an eye on the recorded data at all times. Wörner has realized that, on average, the R 5 PLUS runs at just 60% of its capacity. It consumes just 60 to 70% of the nominal motor rating in electrical power because it maintains the selected vacuum level. On this basis, the vacuum pump's motor actually consumes roughly 6 to 8 kilowatts. This figure is shown directly on the display – a particularly useful feature when the goal is to achieve maximum energy savings during operation without having a negative impact on the packaging quality or cycle time. The company can also analyze data recorded over an extended period because data is permanently stored on the integrated PLC. Data can be printed out in tables or graphs at any time. Wörner also noticed yet another benefit as soon as they started up the pump, noting, “The pump is practically silent.” To be precise, the vacuum pump generates a noise level of just 70 dBA at top speed.
As the energy manager at Dieter Hein, Wörner is very happy with the results of the trial. Apart from saving additional energy, the vacuum pump allows the company to react specifically to the packaging machines' power requirements, it records data permanently on the integrated PLC, and links this data to the packaging machines' PLC or PLC-control unit.
Peter Mattfeld & Sohn: Reducing CO2 Emissions and Operating Costs
As the first EC-certified butchering facility in Hamburg, Peter Mattfeld & Sohn GmbH is committed to resource-saving and sustainable production. An energy management audit in 2010 led to the decision to replace the vacuum supply on the individual packaging machines with a much more energy-efficient central vacuum system from Busch. This change has reduced CO2 emissions by 20 tons per year, which is an enormous benefit for the environment. At the same time, operating costs were reduced by 8,100 euros annually.
Peter Mattfeld & Sohn butchers and processes up to 1,200 pig halves and 100 beef quarters per day. The meat products are cut to customer requirements or packaged as standard products and sold to customers throughout Germany. Already in its third generation, Peter Mattfeld & Sohn is located on the premises of the meat wholesale market in Hamburg. The former agency for pig and beef halves has developed into a company with 150 employees today.
Peter Mattfeld & Sohn GmbH’s plant in Hamburg, Germany.
The butchering of pork halves and beef quarters remains an important business area of Peter Mattfeld & Sohn, and one of the specialties is the North German heifer meat. The cash and carry fresh foods market for bulk purchasers, wholesale meat imports, as well as the artisan convenience food production, form three further pillars of the business. The broad business segment and product range also explain the complexity of the customer base. In addition to the general food industry, wholesalers and communal caterers from the clinics and catering sectors throughout Germany are among their customers.
Peter Mattfeld & Sohn was already a participant in the "Unternehmen für Ressourcenschutz" (companies for resource protection) project of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 2009 and is also Hamburg's environmental partner.
Unwanted Vacuum Pump Heat Emissions Drives Change
The decision to change the vacuum system was the fact that the existing vacuum pumps in the three thermoforming packaging machines and one chamber packaging machine, with their heat radiation and exhaust air, unnecessarily heated the room air that was cooled to 48.2 oF (9 °C). Additional energy was then needed to cool the air in production areas. For Peter Mattfeld & Sohn Managing Director Kai Mattfeld it was clear he would bring Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems on board as a recognized specialist for vacuum generation during packaging.
Busch offered a central vacuum system, which was installed in a room separated from the cooled production areas. The individual packaging chambers are evacuated in two stages to be able to run maximum cycle frequencies on the packaging lines. The critical pressure gradient is exploited in each case. This enables the fastest possible evacuation time and thus achieves the highest possible cycle time on every packaging machine. This involves one ring line for the rough vacuum for the first evacuation. Additionally, one ring line is used for the medium vacuum for the evacuation to packaging pressure, which also connects the packaging machines with the vacuum system. The reversing valves with the corresponding control unit are mounted on the packaging machines or in the control cabinet next to them. They control the transition from rough to medium vacuum.
For thermoforming packaging machines, the molding stations are supplied using a separate thermoforming vacuum pump unit. This ensures the previously heated base foils are sucked into the tray mold and take the desired shape. This separation into different vacuum stations is necessary as molding and packaging require different vacuum levels. Additionally, a substantially lower pumping speed is required for the two-stage evacuation of the packaging chamber.
One vacuum vessel each for rough, medium and forming vacuum also ensures the packaging pressure remains at a constant level, even when all packaging machines are running synchronously. In addition, these buffers ensure vacuum is immediately applied to the packaging chambers when required. The central vacuum system is fully automatic: it activates individual vacuum modules if a higher vacuum level is required and/or switches off individual vacuum modules if the demand in vacuum is lower.
Energy Savings Realized, Operational Reliability Bolstered
The advantages of the vacuum system were obvious soon after it was installed. The energy used to cool the production rooms could be reduced because there were no vacuum pumps installed any longer, avoiding unwanted heat emissions in the cooled rooms. The newly installed vacuum system had fewer vacuum pumps than previously required for the decentralized solution. This in itself brought further energy savings.
Additionally, the plant benefitted because individual vacuum pumps are automatically switched off by the vacuum system's control unit if the vacuum level in the vacuum vessels can be maintained with reduced pumping speed. The vacuum pumps in the packaging machines, on the other hand, ran non-stop from switching on the packaging machine to switching it off. Mattfeld said some vacuum pumps used to be in permanent operation from early in the morning until late in the evening, regardless of whether the machines were packaging or not.
Operational reliability was another important criterion when Mattfeld purchased the central vacuum system. Due to the modular design of the vacuum system and the subdivision into rough, medium and forming vacuum, the performance of a vacuum pump can be automatically adopted by a stand-by vacuum pump in the event of a failure. The failure of a vacuum pump thus has no impact on packaging, neither in terms of quality nor speed. This ensures maximum operational reliability for the vacuum supply to the packaging machines. In addition, it offers the advantage of allowing maintenance work to be carried out during ongoing operation, as individual vacuum pumps can be disconnected from the vacuum system and maintained while the central vacuum system continues to run. To ensure all regular maintenance work is carried out on time and professionally for a fixed rate, Peter Mattfeld & Sohn has signed a service agreement with Busch.
Shown is the central vacuum system at Peter Mattfeld & Sohn’s operation.
Several years after going into operation, Mattfeld knew his decision to centralize the vacuum supply was the right one – from an economic point of view and for the sake of the environment.
About Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems
Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems is one of the largest manufacturers of vacuum pumps, blowers and compressors in the world. Our products are at the forefront of vacuum and low-pressure technology. For more information, visit www.buschvacuum.com.
About the Author
Uli Merkle is Head of Marketing Services at Busch Dienste GmbH in Germany, part of the international group of Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos courtesy of Busch Vacuum Pumps and Systems.
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