Cheese attractively packed
Vergeer Holland is one of the largest and most innovative cheese processors in the world. The company has grown in recent years into a flourishing business with 550 employees, and today packs around 60 million kilos of cheese per year. The company does not produce cheese, but specializes in maturing, slicing and packaging hard cheese. Its most important customers are retailing companies. When it comes to the packing and labelling of its diverse cheese products, Vergeer Holland relies on solutions from MULTIVAC: a total of 25 packaging machines and over 50 labellers from MULTIVAC are used within the company.
Vergeer Holland is a family business from Reeuwijk and currently the third generation is at the helm. As early as 1934, Grandpa Vergeer, the grandfather of the current owner, started packing and selling cheese next to his pig farm. During the Second World War production was halted, but immediately afterwards he again took up selling packed cheese in the Netherlands. At that time the portioning and packing was all done manually, but later of course as much as possible was done with machines. With great success.
More than Gouda cheese
“We supply virtually all the retailing companies and supermarkets in the Netherlands, as well as in the other countries of North West Europe. But we also work with wholesalers and we are active in the B2B sector,” explains Claus van Straaten, Technical Project Manager at Vergeer Holland. “In addition to this, we also supply customers throughout the world. Some 40 percent of our products are sold on the Dutch market. The remaining 60 percent is exported not only to countries in Europe, but also far beyond such as Canada, the United States, the Middle East, South Africa, and many Asian countries.”
The cheese products are as diverse as the sales markets. “Of course our portfolio includes Gouda, Edam, and Maasdam, but also Emmental, Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Mimolette. We sell the products as whole rounds, in large pieces, as slices and blocks, as well as cheese sticks.” Vergeer Holland not only packs in large quantities, but also as single slices, e.g. for factory canteens and hotels. The company mainly packs its products under private label.
Labelling is an important part of the packs
Vergeer Holland is the largest cheese packer in the Netherlands. “As far as I know, we were one of the first suppliers of packaged cheese,” says Claus van Straaten. Together with the Head of the Technical Department, Erwin van Rijswijk, he is responsible for the installation and servicing of the machinery at the cheese processor. “We did have some early prototypes of packaging machines here, but the oldest machine I know was installed in 1971. That was our first MULTIVAC machine.” Since then the machinery and equipment have been greatly extended. There are more than 40 lines in use at the packaging sites in Woerden and Reeuwijk for the slicing, packing, and labelling of cheese products; the greater part of these are from MULTIVAC.
The cheese processor relies on the quality of MULTIVAC as the packaging specialist. “When buying a machine, one can not always see the quality. Our experience shows however, that the packaging solutions from MULTIVAC are characterised by a very high level of reliability. We are also very satisfied with the comprehensive expertise and level of service from MULTIVAC,” says Erwin van Rijswijk. “Labelling solutions make an important contribution to the pack,” adds Erwin van Rijswijk. Labels contain important information, such as on consumer protection. When labelling, it is very important the label stays in the correct position. Inline labelling is one of the most critical process stages in the production flow. If something goes wrong, the entire production line stops. This aspect is frequently underestimated, but we have never had any problems with the solutions from MULTIVAC.”
In order to ensure the thermoformed cheese slice packs, which are equipped with a reclosable lid, remain closed at the point of sale, a labelling solution had to be found, which encloses the pack completely. “In conjunction with MULTIVAC, we decided to develop a new solution, which could be integrated into our thermoforming packaging machine,” says Erwin van Rijswijk. “At the beginning we had to coordinate some aspects of the development, but together we managed to master things very well.” Both parties pursued the objective of developing a reliable solution, which labels quickly, accurately and efficiently. The choice was made in favour of a conveyor belt labeller with an output of up to 100 packs per minute. The label dispensers are extremely precise, so that the positional tolerance is consistently under two millimetres at the base of the pack where the label ends meet. “Labels have a big influence on the appearance of the packs,” says Claus van Straaten.
Other inline labellers in operation
Vergeer Holland has a total of over 45 inline labellers from MULTIVAC, which are integrated into the thermoforming packaging lines: all the MULTIVAC thermoforming packaging machines are equipped with MR625 and MR635 cross web labellers from MULTIVAC. They are installed on the outfeed of the thermoforming packaging machines and apply labels to the top and bottom of the finished packs. The virtually maintenance-free design and the use of high-quality materials ensure maximum reliability and a high level of availability. Since they are integrated into the thermoforming packaging machines and operated via the HMI 2.0 control terminal, there are many benefits as regards process optimisation and avoidance of errors. One example is the automatic loading of the labeller settings when the recipe is selected for the packaging machine. The same goes for the printer configuration and the correct print layouts. Product changes can be performed quickly and with the minimum risk of manual input errors, which could cause costly product recalls.
The company also uses MULTIVAC inline labellers of the IL 130 series for labelling film pouches of grated cheese and cheese snacks. The IL 130 inline labellers are specially designed for installation on vertical or horizontal tubular bag machines. They dispense labels onto the packaging film in the film running direction. Flexible mountings with the appropriate attachment devices ensure the labellers are integrated easily into the overall process. All the modules needed for operation of the labeller are easily accessible and convenient to operate. In November 2016 Vergeer Holland purchased three such IL 130 labellers for one tubular bag machine. These enable labels to be applied to both the front and back of the pack. It is even possible to apply specially perforated reclosure labels to the cheese packs.
The most recent investment: an MR295 direct web printer
At the end of 2016 the cheese processor retrofitted a MR295 direct web printer to one of its MULTIVAC R 530 thermoforming packaging machines. This direct web printer is equipped with two thermal transfer printers for printing variable production data, such as best-before date and batch number, directly onto the film. Here Vergeer Holland has to print a large pack format with seven tracks and six rows without reducing the output of the packaging machine. In order to achieve this, the format was split over two printers. Each printer prints three rows and seven tracks. This meant the integration of the direct web printer did not reduce the output of the thermoforming packaging machine.