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Client Stories: Southern Engineering Solutions - Production Cheese Cutter

Dairy Works

Category: Industrial Machine
Client:   Southern Engineering Solutions (SES) - Christchurch
Contract: Study process + design machine + produce manufacturing drawings
Status:   Complete
Purpose:  Machine to cut bulk block of cheese into smaller blocks

Dairy Works Logo Cheese Cutting Machine Cheese Cutting Machine Cheese Cutting Machine Cheese Block

Project Partners

Dairy Works
draw 2 3D

As far as working materials go, cheese just doesn't cut it. It's sticky, of variable softness - or hardness, depending on how you see it. It bunches up under pressure, and tends to crumble near the edges. In summary, cheese generally makes life difficult for those trying to process it, let alone designing a machine that will cut it consistently.

For this project, I worked in with Stephen Hemmingsen, of draw 2 3D, who has extensive experience with food industry machinery design. We did several site visits to Dairy Works, where the machine was to be commissioned. We had to suit-up and wash-up, inline with the strict hygiene requirements in such factories, so each visit had to count. Here we studied the existing machines & how the blocks of cheese behaved while being processed, the timing of the conveyers, and how the workers interacted with the plant.

Armed with this information, we designed a machine able to be made mostly from RHS & profiled laser-cut plate stainless steel & food-grade plastics. It's important that these machines don't have any food-traps, so this consideration, combined with the stainless steel build material, is what keeps the unit hygienic.

The function of the machine was to cut a bulk block of cheese into many smaller 'family blocks' of cheese, with a key requirement being minimum wastage. In other words, to improve upon the existing machines. This we achieved, but not without some fine-tuning along the way, due to the aforementioned unpredictability inherent in the structure of a block of cheese.

Mechatronics were allowed for in the design, as there was some automation to be installed & programmed by SES to allow for the variability in the cheese blocks. These adjustments were being done manually at the time, with in-consistent results. The machine was fabricated and installed by SES.