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Celery processing demonstrates waterjet cutting benefits

22 October 2017

Waterjet cutting technology can offer many advantages for food processors as a celery processing solution demonstrates. 

Ambit Projects, established in 1990, designs, manufactures and installs a range of preparation, process and handling equipment for the food industry, including conveyor and elevator systems, and processing systems such as blanchers, cookers, graders or chillers. The company also offers the services necessary for the installation of these systems up to designing the software. In doing so, the company strives to improve its portfolio through innovation and invention.

In this spirit, Ambit developed a production line for processing and packaging celery for supermarkets. The project included integration of waterjet cutting technology using KMT Waterjet Systems for the high-pressure equipment.

The solution
The complete celery plants are brought straight into the factory from the fields on a conveyor belt. The celery heads pass through an enclosure containing the waterjet cutting nozzles which cut it into sticks of 18 cm. At the same time, the waterjet cuts off the root end, which is diverted to waste or sold on for further processing. Once the cut sticks exit the cutting enclosure, they go through a washing process to remove any small leaf particles from the sticks. After the manual removal of any defective sticks, the celery is transported to a weighing machine to select the correct pack weigh. 

Using this system it is possible to harvested the celery in the morning and have it on the supermarket shelf at 6am the following morning.

In developing this solution, Ambit Projects relied on KMT Waterjet Systems for the supply of the high-pressure components necessary to run a waterjet cutting application including high-pressure pumps and cutting heads. Mark White, sales engineer at Ambit, explains: “We had seen KMT Waterjet cutting in other environments and thought this could be adapted to give advantages to the type of industry we work with.”

Of course, integrating a new technology often comes along with some challenges. “It is important to present the product to the waterjet correctly so that we can enable a square cut,” continued White. “Also the enclosure of the cutting area had to be sound-proof and we had to add interlocked doors to guard the waterjet area and create a safe working environment.”

However, these were minor issues. Waterjet cutting technology is still quite new to the food industry, despite offering some major advantages including longer shelf life of the cut products; a reduction of waste generated by the cutting process; and an increased production throughput rate. 

“Using the new system, we could increase the product quality because we do not have to rely on blades or knives that might have been in operation for eight hours without being cleaned,” said White. “The waterjet is always clean so avoids any risk of a contamination of the cut edge. Moreover, we have a greater product yield: If blades or knives are used, they deteriorate over time and produce more defective celery sticks to be picked off at the inspection stage. The waterjet is always sharp. So in a nutshell, we can increase product quality and accuracy and achieve clean square cuts while at the same time speeding up the process.”

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