Energy Security

Dependable Backup Power System Provides Peace of Mind for Cheese Business

Cheese Merchants uses close collaboration with Charles Equipment to power its mission to deliver fresh, premium cheese products to vendors across the U.S. Volvo Penta’s D16 engine serves as a key ingredient for standby power systems designed to drive quality and customer service.

Cheese Merchants has come a long way since Pasquale Greco founded the company with the purchase of its first cheese grater in 1998. Headquartered in Bartlett, Illinois (Figure 1), the business now operates out of a 277,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with three fully integrated fresh production rooms and a drying room that produces and distributes premium cheeses to customers all over the country.

1. Cheese Merchants is a family-owned and led business with headquarters in Bartlett, Illinois. Courtesy: Cheese Merchants

“As a leading producer of premium, Italian-style cheeses, we rely on our equipment to help us meet customer demands for both quality and quantity,” said Rob Arko, director of Engineering at Cheese Merchants. “Being on the front end of technology helps our team to stay ahead on pickups, manufacturing effectiveness, and quick order turnaround.”

Cheese Merchants has built strong relationships with contractors and technology providers as an extension of its founding principles focused on quality and customer service. When the company began designing a new 300,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse and distribution facility in West Chicago, it turned to longtime partner and leading energy equipment provider Charles Equipment to deploy a reliable standby power solution to help protect critical operational systems.

A Powerful Solution

Being in the perishable food space, Cheese Merchants prioritizes reliability. Businesses ranging from local Italian restaurants to major national grocery chains all rely on the company to deliver quality products at volumes that meet consumer demand (Figure 2). With onsite generators protecting up to 200 million pounds of cheese, an unexpected power failure could cause complications in the supply chain that leave key customers with many disappointed cheese lovers.

2. Pasquale Greco, founder of Cheese Merchants, began with a dream of delivering high-quality Parmesan cheese nationwide. Today, the company’s portfolio is not only packed with nearly every style and variety of cheese, but also multiple packaging formats. Courtesy: Cheese Merchants

Understanding the risks of potential downtime, Arko and his team wanted peace of mind to know that they wouldn’t be stuck building complicated contingency plans in the event of an outage.

“Cheese Merchants has built close, long-term relationships with customers and their trust is not something we take for granted,” said Arko. “We wanted to assure our customers that we had the best preventive strategies in place to keep our operations remaining in motion and on schedule.”

To assist Cheese Merchants in safeguarding its production lines, Charles Equipment decided to deploy a standby power system that combined high power and superior performance (Figure 3). The solution includes five high-quality generators from Aksa Power Generation, each powered by a D16 engine solution from Volvo Penta. The Tier 4 Final engine serves as a powerful, economical, and reliable power source for the 500-kW and 3-MW generators.

3. Charles Equipment has delivered power systems to businesses, homes, and municipalities for more than 58 years. Among its products are generators from Aksa Power Generation powered by Volvo Penta engines. Courtesy: Charles Equipment

“The D16 engine aligns well with Cheese Merchants’ high-performance standards, delivering the standby power output necessary the second it’s needed,” said Darren Tasker, vice president of Industrial Sales with Volvo Penta. “In addition to helping maximize uptime, our collaborative commitment to service and repairs ensures these systems remain running at optimal levels.”

Protection Backed by Service

Charles Equipment knew how critical the support factor would be to achieve long-term reliability for Cheese Merchants’ standby power solution. Having close-knit partnerships, across the board, helped serve as a solid foundation for success.

“Just like we have a strong relationship with Cheese Merchants, we’ve built a longstanding partnership with Volvo Penta that spans more than 10 years,” said Mike Biehl, vice president of Charles Equipment Energy Systems. “We knew that the Cheese Merchants team wouldn’t have a better package in terms of product and support.”

Arko echoed Biehl’s sentiments, highlighting the importance of collaboration for ongoing management and maintenance. “I know I can call Mike and his staff with a question or an issue at any time and get a quick response,” said Arko. “Having those open communication lines is huge and it has come in handy for us on multiple occasions.”

Strengths in service extend from Charles Equipment to Volvo Penta when it comes time for engine service or repairs. “Volvo Penta has a strong service network that makes the process quick and easy,” said Biehl. “Their parts department is second to none.”

Results in Action

Since the initial rollout at its cold storage and distribution facility in West Chicago, Cheese Merchants has expanded its standby power system from Charles Equipment—combining generators from Aksa Power Generation powered by Volvo Penta—to provide backup for two service lines at its manufacturing facility in Bartlett. The overarching system has aced the test in the field.

“We’ve had a few events where we have lost power for short periods of time,” said Arko. “Our standby power system has worked flawlessly in switching to backup power and keeping our operations going while the issue was resolved.”

For Arko and his team, the success story drives home the value of implementing an end-to-end solution that combines product performance and service.

“It all goes back to peace of mind and knowing we have the best system in place for our customers,” said Arko.

Volvo Penta contributed this article to POWER.

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