Amalgamated Dairies Limited (ADL) is a producer owned co-op with dairy processing and retail food distribution facilities throughout Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Their plants process close to 100 million litres of fresh island milk each year and employs over 250 staff. ADL recently worked with RELCO to install TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformers and a complete 20 kg Block Material Handling line in their Prince Edward Island, Canada Cheese Production Plant. Blockforming is the final production step for cheddar and other hard cheeses that entails of forming it into blocks with a uniform weight and moisture consistency.
Cheese Blockformer Upgrade
The Operations and Cheese Manufacturing Team at ADL knew they had to invest in new cheese block forming systems soon, as they were experiencing capacity issues with their current blockformers. Thane MacEwen is the Operations Manager at ADL and has worked there for 31 years. Thane remembers, “We knew it was time for an upgrade. The three smaller blockformers were old and at the end of their life cycle.” They went to market to see what technology was available and found RELCO.
RELCO was Ideal Choice
When first working with RELCO, the team at ADL liked RELCO’s transparency and helpful approach during the specing and bidding phase of the project. “RELCO was very prompt in offering solutions and a quote and didn’t just stop at selling their products. They had a genuine interest in finding out what we wanted to get out of the blockformers. RELCO really took the time to understand our needs, which led to finding the ideal solution.
Beyond the Blockformers
RELCO didn’t just sell ADL the TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformers, but helped them set up their complete packaging line including outsourced vacuum pumps, conveyors, and other pieces of cheese manufacturing equipment. ADL had some unique challenges with setting up their packaging line and TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformers. But according to Thane, RELCO stepped up to the plate to accommodate ADL, solving the issues with them. Thane pointed out, “It was a good move to buy the full line together with the blockformers, because RELCO stood behind it. Since we were putting new blockformers into an existing cheese plant, we ran into some issues that were impossible to anticipate. RELCO was with us through the end of the project to make sure everything was running as promised. They really went above and beyond to get the cheese manufacturing line and blockformers running to ensure the project was successful.”
Since the installation of the TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformers in late 2017, ADL has been pleasantly surprised with service and response time from RELCO. Thane pointed out, “We had issues, but for a project of this magnitude, they were very minimal. We knew that if we contacted RELCO with a question, we would get a call or email back right away. RELCO listened to what we would say and that good dialogue saved us time and effort. Their staff has a wealth of experience and they are not scared to share it with their customers.”
Operator-Friendly and Efficient
The TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformer from RELCO has some features that make it different from other cheese blockformers on the market. For instance, Thane pointed out, “Where other companies have a product in a box, the TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformer can be uniquely customized for companies with unique needs, like us.” Most of all, operators love how user-friendly the interface is. “The computer and programming, display graphics, and the unit overall is very easy to use and operator-friendly. Best of all, RELCO made an extensive operations manual specifically for us, complete with pictures, so we feel empowered with the equipment. They don’t try to hold you dependent on them to fix things, but we know if we need them, they are there to help.” RELCO’s TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformer is also very efficient. Darcy Carr, the Cheese Manufacturing Manager at ADL, noted that at first, the height of the cheese blocks took some time to work through because of the uniqueness of the project, but they are now accurate. The system has a scale that continuously talks to the blockformers to get the most accurate block weight.
400 Installs and Counting
RELCO’s TRU-BLOCK™ Blockformers have been installed in over 400 cheese manufacturing facilities around the world. However, RELCO understands that each customer has unique needs and are looking for the best solution for their business. For that reason, Thane and the ADL Team recommend RELCO to other cheese manufacturers. “RELCO was key in the prep and planning for this system. My advice is to talk to RELCO, explain exactly what
outcome you want, not necessarily the equipment you think you need. They are the experts – let them develop a solution for you.”
RELCO helps their clients through all the steps of cheese production. Not only by recommending and delivering the equipment that best fits their customers’ needs, but also by providing guidance, sharing processing knowledge, and empowering staff on how to get the best results from the production line.