RFID for Chocolate Production

Turck's BL ident RFID system used in Winkler und Dünnebier confectionery machines ensures transparency in mold logistics

With its high-quality production plants for the confectionery industry, Winkler und Dünnebier (WDS) has become one of the world's most sought-after mechanical engineering companies in this sector. Besides tradition and quality, it owes its success to constant innovation. Today the company can offer its customers maximum plant efficiency, safety and control, thanks to optimum mold logistics. Here data defining the latest status of every mold is supplied by Turck's RFID BL ident system.

  • Chocolate Production is a multistage and rather complex process.

Chocolate Production is a multistage and rather complex process. Winkler und Dünnebier Süßwarenmaschinen GmbH (WDS) thus decided to introduce RFID as innovative NFC technology to its confectionery production.

All molds at a glance

All plastic molds – and that may be several thousand depending on the plant – are equipped with RFID data carriers for this purpose. Permanently installed read/write heads in the production lines and mobile acquisition systems at warehouses and production areas allow the progress of each mold to be traced from a central station. Within the production lines, the database-oriented RFID system helps to ensure optimum mold and product tracking, as well as process optimization and improvement of production statistics.

All information acquired by the control system is transmitted to a local database on the plant's operator server, which stores the data for all molds currently in the production cycle of the line. The information produced is synchronized with a server for comprehensive mold management and tracking. A complete RFID system not only includes the reading points on production machinery, but also read heads on mold washing stations and storage systems. If wished by the customer, WDS will even retrofit third-party installations with RFID readers from Turck.

Data with added value

Today Turck's RFID systems ensure that the central server database of every WDS machine contains valuable information that can be used to optimize both plant productivity and production quality. There is a wide range of possible applications for the data pool, including optimizing logistics. With a click of the mouse, the system will show the location of every single mold or trace the route it has taken within the production plant. This allows potential error sources to be easily located.

Production-specific data can also be determined: For example, it is possible to easily identify molds or even complete mold sets that produce above-average levels of scrap, and sort them out automatically. Another application could be comparing mold sets and production characteristics of a specific batch. The data pool provides a wide range of applications for in-plant monitoring of quality or hygiene guidelines, not least in terms of quality management.

The system can easily identify whether a cleaning cycle has been correctly followed. Today it is possible to closely track production sequences, such as pushing together molds in the cooling cabinet or exchanging them for special test samples ­during operation, thanks to RFID. This technology also instantly emits an alarm if inserted molds are not suitable for the production process currently underway. Even a “flying” product change is possible. Here, new molds are introduced to the system while old ones are ejected. Even production scenarios with mold sets mixed at random are possible to increase flexibility.

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