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Grilstad invests in robotic slicing technology

15 July 2011

Based in Trondheim, Grilstad is a private company managed by the seventh generation of the Jenssen family with the same pride and dedication to quality established by their ancestors in 1790

Today, the company has eight factories in Norway – employing some 700 people operating 20 lines to produce salami, burgers, fresh meat and air dried ham. Cooked meat and ham production is also being planned for the future.

Thanks to high quality and an enviable reputation, the company supplies around 50% of the salami consumed in Norway and their other products enjoy equal, if not greater, success in the home market.

To cope with increasing demand, the Trondheim plant has been extended no fewer than 24 times since 1957 and now operates 6 slicing lines that produce 65 tonnes every week.

Grilstad has also recently invested in a Marel IBS2000 Vision bacon line in their Gjovik plant, the success of which inspired Head Of Technical Development, Georg Mattingsdal, to look at how Marel could help reduce high labour costs and improve profitability at his Trondheim plant.

Georg was attracted to the idea of applying robot technology to automate the slicing and packing operation and, safe in the knowledge that Marel are without doubt, market leaders in intelligent portion loading, he carefully researched and subsequently ordered, a PolyLine comprising PolySlicer 3000, G2300 Checkweigher, VBS Vertical Buffer, Pack Desynchroniser and a triple head IPL Robot.

The new line was installed with a Marel engineer appointed to oversee and optimise the performance of the system. The PolySlicer 3000 high speed slicer automatically loads and slices up to 4 logs of high quality salami at a time.

The sliced groups are then dynamically weighed by the G2300 Checkweigher which is connected in closed loop feedback with the PolySlicer in order to maintain on-weights in excess of 98%. After the checkweigher a VBS Vertical Buffer System is programmed to buffer a certain percentage of the sliced groups so that they can be released into the product flow when the PolySlicer is being reloaded.

This delivers a more consistent flow of product to the IPL Robot and thermoformer and, in turn, achieves higher throughput. Georg says the VBS plays a valuable role in the line with its compact footprint and substantial contribution to higher throughputs.

The IPL Robot is equipped with 3 heads which share the work of loading the sliced groups into the thermoformer at, typically,180 picks/min.

PolyLine produces both shingled packs and overlapped shingle packs which, Georg says, have been welcomed by customers who have commented on the improved presentation of the product.

IPL Robot has a great deal to do with this because it can place the sliced groups in the pack more quickly, more gently and more precisely than any operator and the relatively few transfer points on the PolyLine also contributes to maintaining good presentation and hygiene - a vital safety issue with ready to eat products.

Georg is delighted with the new PolyLine, commenting: “It has made a big difference to the output, quality and presentation of Grilstad's products and Trondheim's profitability. I am also pleased about being able to manage the system on line and, in partnership with Marel, he looks forward to even higher levels of efficiency and productivity in the future.”


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