Date of this Version
Vendors specializing in cheese processing equipment, both new and used, were identified and contacted. They were asked to supply as much information as they could on equipment requirements and costs associated with a “complete” cheese plant in very small (4,000 pounds raw milk/day), small (16,000 pounds raw milk/day), and medium-small (32,000 pounds raw milk/day) plant sizes. It was anticipated that these vendors would be better able to recommend equipment and provide costs for complete cheese making systems (plants) that could function efficiently to produce specialty cheese products. This is opposed to a more “piece meal” approach of putting together equipment components from various vendors (even though this can be done by combining vendor information). Vendor contact information is given in Table 1.
Because of the unknown frame before any equipment would be purchased and installed, and because of unknown specifications on type and volume of cheese (or cheeses) to be produced, most vendors were reluctant, or found it difficult, to provide detailed equipment requirements or costs information. It was emphasized to them that we were seeking “ballpark” or budget-type cost information for consideration by those interested in an on-farm specialty cheese plant. Despite this, some very good (and detailed) used equipment requirements and costs were obtained. Most vendors included reconditioned equipment when available to minimize costs.
Also for this same reason, vendors were not willing to supply comments or suggestions on plant size or plant/equipment layout requirements. Approximate plant size requirements (which are required because building construction is a major factor in project cost budget estimation) were determined from various sources.
Table 1 contains the Vendor Contact information. Table 2 contains a Equipment Requirements and Costs Information Received from Vendors Specializing in Dairy Equipment Supply and Sales. It is broken down into principal required equipment categories for the three plant sizes requested. It is difficult to compare quotes from individual vendors directly due to the varying specifications of the item specified. For instance, the Kusel Equipment Co. make-vat quotes include all required accessories including curd cutters, hoops and presses. Most make-vats quoted are self-contained for curd separation and preparation and are sized to hold one day’s worth starting raw milk quantity. The Sprinkman quote features smaller round end cheese vats (which are then refilled for additional processing batches as required) and equally expensive curd drain tables to which the curdled milk is transferred for whey draining and curd processing.
Most make-vat quotes include a U.S. legal pasteurization controls package that is required in most states and adds significantly to the equipment cost (at least $5000 per vat). Vendors indicated that there is no clear plant size where a continuous HTST (High Temperature Short Time) make-vat system would be recommended. However, for the very small plants the less complex, self-contained pasteurizing vat would be more desirable and less costly to install.