Shredding and Grating Non-Dairy Cheese

Challenge

Our customer requested a production line for converting non-dairy cheese into shreds and grated product.  They had a clear goal to produce shredded cheese of high quality that would have a similar appearance to cheese made from milk.  Their product is a vegan alternative to common cheeses like cheddar and parmesan and was cast into blocks with varying height based on their specific recipe.  The customer also wanted to produce grated or granular style product from hard Italian type blocks.  Powder or flow agent was to be minimized or avoided if possible.  This was our customer’s first production line for shredded and grated cheese.  The line needed to be inserted into an existing factory with tight space restrictions.  As a ready to eat product, our customer was concerned about hygienic design and the ability to thoroughly clean the machinery daily.  The biggest shared risk was the unknown nature of plant-based cheese because product hardness, stickiness and density vary greatly from one manufacturer to another.

Application Details

Cheese types:  Non-Dairy, Vegan Alternatives for Cheddar, Red Leicester & Parmesan

Cheese temperature:  32–43 F (2-6 C)

Infeed blocks:  14”L x 10”W x 2.5-7H” blocks (358 x 258 x 63.5-178mm)

Production rate:  1,100 lbs/hr (500 kg/hr)

Finished product:  Crescent shred 1.8” (45mm) typical length and Grated

Powder flow agent:  Potato Starch less than 1%

Control platform:  Allen-Bradley

Electrical:  415V/50Hz/3P

Packaging:  Various retail standup pouch on VFFS machine

Project Solution

Marchant Schmidt delivered a complete industrial shredding system that reduces blocks to shred and grated product.  Prior to engineering, we tested each cheese type for hardness and stickiness.  Further testing of the centrifugal shredder and grating system demonstrated that high quality shred was possible from non-dairy cheese.  As a low-volume shred system, we installed an MS25 cuber to reduce blocks to cubes.  The operator is responsible to load a block or stack of 2 blocks of vegan cheese into the cut chamber.  After the safety light curtains are clear, the cycle begins.  The MS25 has an integrated accumulation and metering conveyor that delivers cubes directly to the shredder.  Shred is deposited on the collection conveyor and advances past the powder applicator and into the mixing drum.  A sensor measures the volume of cheese on the collection belt.  Potato starch is applied to the cheese surface to improve flow across the multi-head weigher and improve packaging performance.  Changeover to grated product is achieved quickly and easily by exchanging the centrifugal cutting head.  Line controls effectively make multiple individual machines operate as a complete system using the scale and bagger as a master signal.