LSG Sky Chefs, the catering subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa, produced over 405 million meals in 2009. About 450 flights are readied for departure every day at Frankfurt airport and in order to ensure well fed passengers LSG Sky Chefs maintains two state of the art production plants in the area. Robust Panel PCs from Beckhoff’s CP72xx series ensure that Sky Chefs personnel are always in control.
The larger of the two plants is situated in the new city district of Gateway Gardens, LSG Sky Chefs produces exclusively for its Lufthansa customer here. International airlines such as Air China, United Airlines and Japan Airlines are supplied with their meals from the second plant, located on the airport grounds. Around 3500 employees produce approximately 93 000 meals daily at these two plants.
A series of work and logistic processes are necessary before everything is in place in the aircraft and passengers can enjoy their meals, pre-arranged and ready to eat on the tray. Just delivered fruit and vegetables are processed in the cold kitchen into starters and salads, while cakes and rolls are baked and the ingredients for the main courses are prepared in the warm kitchen. In accordance with regulations the cooling chain must be maintained for all foodstuffs, this means that freshly cooked dishes must be cooled immediately and must then wait in cold storage depots for delivery to the aircraft. This is important in order to ensure that the meals subsequently reach the passengers in a hygienic condition.
“In the case of long-haul flights we are informed of the final number of passengers 24 hours before takeoff; in the case of domestic and short haul flights it is four hours before. Only then do we know for sure how many meals are required per flight,” says Peter Salbreiter, group leader of works, IT and IT processes at the Frankfurt site.
The respective airline’s specifications regarding arrangement and weight must be maintained meticulously throughout the production process. Menus are created from starters, deserts, rolls, chocolate boxes, napkins, jam and cutlery at the modern workstations. The filled trays are stowed in trolleys and made available on the supply ramp together with the complete flight load. The deep-frozen main courses for the business and economy class sections are stowed in oven inserts here. Magazines, equipment, meals and beverages converge on the ramp and are sorted into one of the ramp boxes for each flight and each aircraft kitchen. Once the loaded articles and meals are complete, they are stowed in the elevating platform truck and driven to the aircraft for loading.
Beckhoff Panel PCs control the process
The production floor at Gateway Gardens covers 19 000 square metres; in addition to the 40 Beckhoff Panel PCs in use at the Frankfurt site, 35 are also installed there. “Mainly, we use the Beckhoff Panel PCs to visualise and control our processes,” explains Salbreiter. “10 stations on the suspended electric conveyor are each equipped with a Panel PC. The conveyor interconnects the production including the cold-storage depot; the trolleys are transported by this system – regardless of whether they are trolleys returned from the aircraft or are cleaned and filled for the next flight,” explains Salbreiter.
PCs are installed in the automatic warehouse, which contains more than 65 different items of tableware, from plates and cups to cutlery. A further four Panel PCs are used for the facility management. Eight devices serve the fleet management of the plant’s total of 105 elevating platform vehicles. The remaining six are located in different places in production and are used exclusively for the visualisation of the processes that take place there. Salbreiter says that the environmental conditions sometimes place special demands on the devices. The durable Beckhoff Panel PCs have high-quality aluminium housings capable of fulfilling these requirements to protection class IP65.
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