Safe production of baby foods
Lippstadt/Fulda. In the production of baby and infant foods, as well as clinical products, stringent hygiene regulations are to be observed in order not to endanger the health of children or adults. On site in Fulda Milupa GmbH annually produces more than 40,000 tons of baby foods as well as clinical products for the German and international market. The company focuses on flawless hygienic conditions in production which exceed the mandatory requirements. Complex air filters and airlocks protect against contamination and create perfect conditions in production. Three airlocks were equipped with High Performance Rapid Food Doors from Albany as part of a new storage concept, developed in 2011. About 150 Big Bags of milk powder, with a volume of 500-1000 kg each, are transported via these airlocks from the raw material warehouse to the feeding chute. There the sacks are emptied and the milk powder is prepared for further processing.
Milupa GmbH has been part of the Danone group since 2007 and is the German market leader in the sector of formulas and baby milk cereals. The plant in Fulda, which was built in 1983, is the most modern production plant for baby and infant foods as well as clinical products in Germany. About 250 employees produce Milumil and Aptamil and other formulas according to the most stringent quality requirements. These products are based on milk powder, which is delivered in Big Bags.
Hygienic production environment
While the raw material warehouse of Milupa is classified as a Low Care area, the production is classified as a High Care area due to its highly hygienic requirements. This conforms to Hygiene Zone 1 of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and requires special protective clothing for employees, who are granted access only after their hands are disinfected and the working environment is free from wood and glass. In order to ensure a continuous material flow from the Low Care area to the High Care area, Milupa introduced the Albany airlock system in 2011. In total there are three airlock systems containing six High Performance Rapid Food Doors with a width of 3.4 meters and a height of 3.5 meters.
Extended frequency of runs
Prior the modernization of the warehouse the change between the two zones used to be effected via palletizing where wooden pallets were exchanged with aluminum ones. Additionally, there used to be an airlock between the two areas. By using this system, more storage space was required and a lower frequency of runs was achieved. With the new airlock systems we were able to optimize these factors. “It has enabled us to extend the frequency of runs to six or seven Big Bags per hour and to gain storage capacity at the same time, “says Peter Schabel, the responsible Project Engineer at Milupa. One airlock is assigned to each milk station in the feeding chute, where the milk powder is prepared for further processing. The warehouse staff inserts the required number of Big Bags in the airlock on demand. The airlock is capable of housing two Big Bags at a time.
Safe interlocking principal
The function of the airlock is simple and efficient: The driver of the forklift opens the door via remote control. The rapid opening speed of up to 2.2 meters per second ensures a continuous production flow. The induction loop, which is integrated in the warehouse flooring, recognizes the forklift and keeps the door open. The Big Bags, which are stored on pallets, are then transported from the raw material warehouse to the airlock. Due to the interlocking system only one door at a time can be opened. Access to the High Care area is not granted unless the opposite door has completely closed. This ensures additional safety and offers security to the warehouse staff. As soon as the door has closed at a speed of up to one meter per second, the opposite door is released. A forklift equipped with a claw collects the Big Bag in the High Care area and takes it to the feeding chute. Each door opens and closes approximately 150 times a day.
It is possible to look into the airlock from both sides due to the transparent door curtains. This enables the driver to notice whether the demanded Big Bag is available. The red vertical reinforcement stripes indicate the change from the Low Care to the High Care area, and mark the strict separation of the two areas. The stainless steel sideframes of the door conform to the strict hygiene regulations of the food industry. Just like the curtain, they can be cleaned easily and thoroughly due to the smooth surfaces. The company opted for this High Performance Door solution from Albany because this door type meets the requirements of the Good Hygiene Praxis (GHP) and also matches the HACCP concept implied by Milupa. The cooperation between Albany and the producer of baby and infant foods started as early as the beginning of the 1990`s. Apart from the airlocks, several further High Performance Doors from Albany have been installed in the plant in Fulda.
Data and facts:
- GFSI = Global Food Safety Initiative. The GFSI classifies three different hygiene zones. In hygiene zone 1 (white) bulk solids are processed, wood and glass are strictly prohibited. Access is only granted in protective clothing conforming to hygiene regulations after the disinfection of hands.
- GHP = Good Hygiene Praxis. The abbreviation refers to the hygienic conditions of the surroundings and includes hygienic measures regarding room climate, protection against pests and the surface design of the interior.
- HACCP = Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. HACCP is a self control system for risk analysis and commands critical control points. According to article 5 of the regulation (EC) 852/2004 food processors are obliged to introduce a permanent procedure based on this system.