Pet food production takes on a new level of automated technology

Cool Off together with VK Logic used Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture to design an automated plate freezing process.

Cool Off is the pet food raw material manufacturing division of Staughton Group, which is an Australian, family owned company with manufacturing facilities in Walget, New South Wales, St George in Queensland and with the head office and main manufacturing plant located in Howlong in southern NSW.

Staughton Group oversees the manufacture of bulk raw materials for the pet food industry as well as retail pet foods and supplements for domestic and export sales.  Staughton Group also sources and processes wild game proteins through its recently acquired Wild Game Resources Australia.

Offering unique access to Australian raw materials for pet food manufacture, Cool Off delivers high quality products including: Lamb Mechanically De-boned Meat (MDM), plate frozen offals, boutique meat meals and natural dried treats – sourcing its red meat offal raw material from over 30 abattoirs across Australia, processing over 150 tonnes of raw material per day.

As market opportunities continued to grow, Cool Off designed innovative new technology to help meet this increasing consumer demand.

Cool Off is a company at the forefront of technology and innovation. To help maintain a high quality product, the company developed a unique offal collection process that involves installation of a customised collection and chilling unit onsite at the abattoir. This enables Cool Off to control all aspects of quality from the onset, providing a dedicated focus on quality of the pet food products, with minimal abattoir labour input. This system is currently installed at over 30 Australian abattoirs.

Once the offal is processed, it is pumped into large plate freezers, with the capacity to hold 2000 kg of product, and frozen at -20 degrees Celsius. The product is then unloaded and palletised for delivery to pet food manufacturers. In the past this was a labour intensive process that required manual handling by operators. To increase throughput and limit manual handling requirements, Cool Off together with VK Logic designed a new automated plate freezing system. VK Logic has a longstanding relationship with Cool Off, resulting in a detailed understanding of the plate freezing process. Justin Van Klaveren, managing director at VK Logic explained that in order to meet increasing customer supply contracts, Cool Off undertook some expansion work at the plant that included building works and new freezer panel rooms.

Combining integrated control and safety, the Allen-Bradley® GuardLogix® was selected as the most appropriate choice for this application. The Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® system including PowerFlex® 527 drives with safety over Ethernet offers an innovative, modular design to support fast and easy installation and configuration. These compact drives also offer embedded EtherNet/IP™ communications and standard safety features.

The Allen-Bradley Kinetix® Servo drives provided advanced motion control for the system and the capability to standardise on a single communications network for easier commissioning, configuration and start up. FactoryTalk® View SE human machine interface (HMI) was used to monitor and control the plant. To help with remote assistance and maintenance, VK Logic has VPN access to the site.

Rockwell Automation Authorised Distributor, NHP Electrical Engineering (NHP), supported this project by identifying the most appropriate equipment to meet the application requirements.