Automatic loading and unloading system for 2000 cheeses

Cheese and the Netherlands are inextricably linked. Our cheese diaries produce more than 800,000 hard cheeses per year. As such, the Netherlands has grown to be one of the largest cheese producers in Europe. The product is exported to some 130 countries. From a logistical perspective, cheese is a very special product. In contrast to other sectors where goods leave the warehouse in the shortest possible time, cheeses may be stored up to 18 months to mature and develop flavour. These days, cheeses are collected from the racks by robots and transported to the vehicle on conveyer belts. However, loading and unloading of the vehicles is still mostly a manual job.
During the past years, Van Eck has developed and built various vehicles that can be used specifically for the transport of cheese wheels. Van Eck produces vehicles for manual loading and unloading as well as vehicles with a fully automated loading and unloading system.

Cheese vehicle with two, three or four loading decks
All cheese vehicles are equipped with insulated bodyworks. The walls have been insulated with polyurethane and pure polyester resin, united through glass fibre and roving (the so-called wet-on-wet method). Since the walls are manufactured according to the wet-on-wet method, they are extremely strong and impact-resistant. Since the weight of cheese is generally heavy, sometimes up to 14 kg per cheese, it is of vital importance that the bodywork can easily carry the weight. The walls are therefore additionally reinforced, but this does not involve wood or metal profiles. All additional reinforcement is synthetic (rather than wood or metal profiling), preventing thermal connections between the interior and exterior walls. This construction ensures that the vehicle will have a very long life cycle.
Stainless steel hollow sections are fitted against the walls, making it possible to generate a second, third and/or a fourth loading deck, still allowing the vehicle to transport normal pallets. The number of loading decks to be built in the vehicle can be chosen by the customer. Other options include horizontal or vertical shelf storage.

Automatic loading and unloading system for 2000 cheeses
Since manual loading and unloading will no longer be allowed as of 2010, Van Eck, in cooperation with AutoloaderNL BV, has developed a trailer that enables the fully automated loading and unloading of cheeses. The trailer has a built-in robot that can automatically load and unload the cheeses on the intermediate floors. The rear of the trailer further includes a system that links up with the conveyer belt of the plant or company where the cheeses are loaded or unloaded. An important challenge was that the walls of the trailer had to be able to carry the weight of the cheeses (28,000 kg) and that the interior width of the vehicle had to be 2500 mm. This is because all driving and actuating motors had to be positioned in the wall. Still, Van Eck succeeded. The trailer is able to transport 28,000 cheeses and load 20,000 cheeses in one hour and ten minutes. Manually, a driver and two assistants would need at least 2.5 hours.

The system is controlled by the driver by means of an input and positioning unit. The driver can indicate loading or unloading, what needs to be loaded or unloaded, which types of cheeses and the quantity. Each of the 12 layers can be individually selected and loaded or unloaded.

In order to secure the quality of the cheeses during conventional transport, paper or plastic is placed between the cheeses to prevent them from sticking together. With this system, no paper or plastic is required, as all products are shelved separately from each other.

The entire system meets the HACCP standards for bulk transport of dairy products.

Customised advice?
We would be pleased to further inform you on the possibilities that will give you a head start in your logistical service provision. For further information or questions about our transport solutions, please contact the Sales department. You can also leave your details by completing the contact form. We will contact you as soon as possible.