Case: Ultrasonic washing machine

The MKT ultrasonic washing machine cleans cheese moulds effectively

Valio’s Äänekoski cheese dairy entered the ultrasonic era in the spring of 2017: It uses an ultrasonic washing machine made by MTK to clean moulds and salting boxes used in the manufacture of the world-famous AURA blue cheese.

Water-jet washing machine replaced with ultrasonic equipment

Cleanliness is a key issue when making high-quality cheese. For example, failure to clean a cheese production line will soon affect product quality, and a prolonged cycle of soiling could create a breeding ground for dangerous microbes. Proper cleaning processes are needed on cheese production lines to guarantee sufficient cleanliness.

Valio’s Äänekoski cheese dairy, which focuses on the production of blue cheese, used to clean its cheese moulds with a water-jet washing machine connected to a central washing unit for the entire production line. Because the washing solution circulated through the central unit, residue from the moulds could spread through the production line, necessitating frequent changing of the solution. In addition, a significant amount of heat was wasted when cleaning the moulds, which prompted Valio to seek a better solution.

“We wanted a solution for cleaning cheese moulds and salting boxes that was better suited to our processes. We also wanted to raise production capacity,” explains Jarmo Kelloniemi, a cheese expert from the Valio Äänekoski cheese dairy.

Because Valio’s new ultrasonic washing machine works separately from the central washing unit, the solution used for the production line is not soiled by dirt from the moulds. The object being washed is immersed in the ultrasonic washer’s basin, where ultrasonic elements separate any dirt. This makes washing more effective and kinder to the environment, using lower quantities of chemicals.

A tailored solution requires effective cooperation

Kelloniemi explains that Valio knew special tailoring would be needed to integrate the new washing machine with the production line, and that not everything was likely to work perfectly from the start. For this reason, they hoped that the equipment manufacturer could continue close cooperation in developing the washing machine after its delivery. They were aware of MTK’s strengths in this respect.

“We had several tenders on the table, but the cooperation aspect was decisive. In terms of manufacture, installation and aftercare, MKT’s solution had the right overall price-quality ratio. In addition, we had seen similar equipment made by MKT and knew that they could provide precisely the washing machine that we needed,” says Kelloniemi.

MKT took a holistic view of the production line

Valio’s new ultrasonic washer is at the intersection of the moulding and salting processes, which makes both the moulds and salting boxes easy to wash. The solution saves both space and time. Achieving this was by no means easy.

“Obviously, if you use the same washer to wash two objects of different shapes and sizes, you have to spend some time, as in this case, getting the adjustments right. Despite initial challenges in cleaning the salting boxes, we found the right solutions together with MKT and got the washing process to function in the way we wanted. We had other challenges in the cheese production line, unrelated to MKT, but they helped us to fix them at the same time.”

“I can recommend MKT’s ultrasonic washer and believe that ultrasonic technology will play a bigger role in cheese dairies in the future, particularly for washing cheese moulds,” says Mr. Kelloniemi.

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Henri Granberg
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