Milk, a Nobel Prize and happy cows are words that describe Valio, one of FlexLink’s customers. The Finnish dairy producer chose FlexLink to provide them with automated production flow solutions. New stainless steel conveyors were to increase output and simplify cleaning of their milk packaging line.
Valio – the largest dairy company in Finland
Valio was founded in 1905 in Finland, as a cooperative for Finnish dairies. The objective from the start was to export high-quality butter. Now, over a hundred years later, they are a reliable producer of a wide range of dairy products, and deliver one of the market’s largest range of lactose-free products. Valio has a well-developed quality system that monitors all the production steps. In that way, they can guarantee the best quality possible for their consumers. Valio is an old Finnish word that means “the best”, and that has been their ambition since the start.
Conveyors with high flexibility and good hygiene – demands from the dairy factory
Valio’s factory in Riihimäki, Finland, had specific needs when they contacted FlexLink. They required high flexibility between fillers and packers. Valio wanted to increase the capacity, renew their old conveyor system and improve the hygienic conditions in the filling area. The factory’s old manual system was expensive, and only possible to clean after the filling had been finalized. Therefore, the new system had to be automatic and focus on good hygiene, low maintenance and high accessibility.
“We can now choose to clean a specific conveyor from a control panel, so cleaning is much easier. This is a very flexible system,” says Pentti Eklund, Technical Manager at Valio.
A well-functioning cooperation led to a customized washing program
To fulfill the customer’s needs, it was important to have an open dialogue during the whole process. Together with Valio, we designed a conveyor system combined with a washing program, customized for their specific hygienic needs. The short time plan was also an important factor for Valio. To secure a short production stop, we pre-assembled sections in our own workshop. When installing, we lifted in the pre-assembled sections in the dairy factory. The short installation time was highly appreciated by Valio.
A technical challenge in this project was the limited space in the factory. We designed a compact solution, where the conveyors were installed in many different levels. Although the space was limited, we managed to deliver a flexible solution.
Decreased damages of the products in a cost-effective way
A frequent problem in the dairy industry, is packages that get damaged during production. FlexLink applied a feature on Valio’s conveyor system, to prevent product damages. It consists of a dynamic control of the conveyors’ speed, to decrease backpressure from the packages queuing up on the conveyor. In the old system, they used water and soap to reduce friction and backpressure. But with FlexLink’s new solution that is not necessary, and in addition, FlexLink’s solution is more cost effective.
“We wanted a reliable supplier since we had a very tight time plan. To execute this kind of project and to install a new conveyor line, while running the production, you need efficient cooperation. The time plan was very critical for us. We managed to make this investment according to our time plan,” says Pentti Eklund, Technical Manager at Valio.
Stay competitive by investing in a clean and smart conveyor system
The result of FlexLink’s cooperation with Valio was rewarding for the factory in many ways. The renewing of their old conveyor system led to a higher reliability of supply, where the production was ready on time. It has also created more space for better access, which generates a better working environment. The cleaning process is now faster and more effective than it was before, which leads to lower production costs. This investment has made Valio far more competitive in the dairy industry.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Do you want to know more about FlexLink’s cooperation with our customers? Please feel free to contact me with any questions.