Safe, Stable & Clean
Thursday, September 24th, 2020
The family business, Schindler & Wagner GmbH & Co KG (short:SCHIWA), has been one of the leading manufacturers of customised and standardised slicing systems in the sausage, ham and cheese industry for over 50 years. The FDA-compliant e-chains from igus help to meet the strict requirements for safety and hygiene.
Schindler & Wagner GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 1965 by Manfred O. Schindler, the developer of the first electronic scale. This system has been further developed over the years and forms the basis of today’s high-tech slicer/checkweigher machine combinations, which the medium-sized family business offers for slicing, portioning and weighing a wide variety of meat and cheese products. The company which develops and produces exclusively in Plüderhausen near Stuttgart is a technology leader in customer-specific slicing systems and currently has over 100 employees.
“We make high-performance cutting machines mainly for cheese, bacon and ham, with the highest precision and reliability”, says Martin Hüttenrauch, Sales Manager at SCHIWA. In addition to the solid integral construction, the high-performance slicers are characterised by the internationally unique “SCHIWA-Walk-In-Design”. This design enables the operator to enter the interior of the machine without bending down and, for example, remove the knife ergonomically—standing upright—in order to change the knife. Moreover, the entire machine area is easily accessible and also easy to clean.
Hygienic & Open
The SCHIWA machines are characterised by a completely open design; so that all surfaces can be easily cleaned daily.
“In recent years, we have invested a lot of time and energy in our hygienic design. We were always at the forefront of technology, but not where visibility was concerned. Our philosophy is: you can only clean what you can see,” says Hüttenrauch. And so, at the end of 2017, it was time for SCHIWA to reinvent itself in terms of design, according to the motto: “Open everything up, ‘uncover’ as much as possible and make it visible.”
The new hygienic design influenced all details—including the cable guides up to the grippers, which lead the cheese to the cutting blade.
“We used to run the cables somewhere, fix them with loops, put them in a housing, period. Here we were looking for a visually appealing solution with a flexible chain made of detergent-resistant materials and an open construction that is easy to clean,” explains Tobias Wahl, Head of Mechanical Development at SCHIWA.
They found what they were looking for with the motion plastics specialist igus, the leading plastics expert from Cologne. “When it comes to our suppliers, we are quite thrifty. We have had a good, long partnership with igus. In our plant we use special solutions made of bar stock, iglidur plain bearings and drylin linear guides. The quality, the flexibility and also the co-operation simply fit, and so it was clear to us from the outset that igus was also the first contact for this energy supply chain”, continues Hüttenrauch.
First Hygienic Design e-Chain
Since then, TH3 e-chains have been used. “Our Hygienic Design TH3 e-chain is used wherever the highest hygiene requirements prevail and cables and hoses must be guided safely. It is easy to clean, FDA-compliant, has no screw connections and is ideally suited for aggressive cleaning agents and chemicals”, says Bastian Mehr, Packaging Industry Manager at igus. The igus Hygienic Design e-chain is available in two inner heights and four inner widths each. The up to four fixed interior segments are possible for both sizes. This means that cables and hoses can be laid completely separately from each other and yet have sufficient gaps for cleaning purposes. If the customer wishes, the chains are received fully harnessed with the cables.
At SCHIWA, however, the chains are delivered without pre-assembled cables, as Tobias Wahl explains: “Each SCHIWA product line is configured exactly according to the requirements and needs of our customers. Each machine is, if you like, a unique piece. That’s why we harness the chains ourselves, because we never know in advance which cables will be needed in which length.” Another advantage of the TH3 e-chain is the rounded edges, which prevent dead spaces and the resulting formation of germs. “When we developed the e-chain according to Hygienic Design Guidelines, it was important to us that it was easy to clean. This requires a screw-free construction and an open design. With the TH3, we have achieved all this”, states Florian Strobel, Technical Sales Consultant at igus.
Top Performance—Slice By Slice
First, the TH3 energy chains were used in the 4-spindle slicer from SCHIWA. The line delivers up to 6,000 slices and 240 packs per minute. About three tonnes of cheese per hour, are processed on such a machine. 99.5 percent are guaranteed “on weight first time”, less than 0.2 percent give away and 98.5 percent technical availability. “The grippers move back and forth abruptly for 20 hours a day, which places an immense load on the chain. We carry all necessary media such as pneumatics, sensors and electrics in the chains. We have been using the energy supply systems for more than two years and have not had any complaints so far. They are exactly what we wanted. The cables are guided safely and the blue chain is also an eye-catcher”, says Wahl. With the choice of the colour blue, the company is also following the idea of “optical detectability”, an increasingly important requirement in food technology.
In order to meet the strict requirements for food hygiene or food safety in all process stages of food production, igus offers polymer solutions such as e-chains, plain bearings or linear guides that have been specifically developed for moving applications. They are maintenance-free, do not need lubrication, which rules out product contamination, are food-safe and insensitive to influences such as dirt, water, chemicals, heat or impact. In the future, the liners of the drylin linear systems will also be changed from iglidur J to the blue FDA and EU-compliant iglidur A160 material.
“Today, we are again the market leader, not only technically but also hygienically. We are not the biggest on the market, but I would say the most innovative. And igus has made a decisive contribution to this with all the plastic solutions we use in our machines,” concludes Hüttenrauch.
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