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Learn how to automate - and stay ahead!

01 June 2012

Appetite for Engineering speaker Graham Thomas, engineering manager of Greencore Cake & Desserts, put his neck on the line in order to invest in robots. Find out how and why he did so - and how he reaped the benefits for Greencore.

Greencore Cakes & Desserts needed a neater, cleaner cut for fruit cake bars which were conventionally cut using a reciprocating saw blade machine.

''Ultrasonic cutting was the answer but typical machines were pneumatic or servo driven guillotine action machines,'' says Graham. ''A bespoke design using robots to teach the conveyor and cut through the cake from side to side was considered, trialled on a test rig, designed and manufactured. The result was an exceptionally clean and accurate cut with total customer satisfaction.''

The easy route would have been to order a standard cutting machine but Graham wasn't going to settle for standard.

Graham Thomas served for a time as an electrical and mechanical engineer. He then moved from control and instrumentation systems and projects for all industries to the food industry in 1998, where he worked at the Hull bakery of Hazelwood Foods.

Graham says he was disappointed at the level of automation in food companies to that used in other manufacturing sectors, so he sought to introduce modern control and automation at the new site, realising progression is necessary to keep ahead in a competitive market. Challenges include daily strip and washdown, simple operation, complex health and safety requirements being necessary for all equipment.


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