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Gaining control for a perfectly buttered pretzel

12 March 2018

To simplify and speed up the manual process of spreading butter on pretzels, MFDO UG has developed a machine capable of automated pretzel buttering. 

The machine, which enables pretzels to be spread with butter twice as quickly as the traditional manual method, has been fitted with system components such as Logo! 8 and Simatic operator panels from Siemens.  

Electrician Dieter Obertautsch and designer Michael Feil came up with an idea to speed up the traditionally manual task. They founded MFDO UG and set about developing and building a machine for automatic buttered pretzel production. At the press of a button, the machine pumps butter into the pretzels.

“When we started our development work, we first needed to find out if the idea of injecting the butter would even work,” said Feil, recalling the early days of the project. “We tried it out using a needle head and silicon press – to discover we had the perfect buttered pretzel.”

Despite this early success, it quickly became evident that there would be challenges to meet along the way which could not be easily overcome using what was initially a purely mechanical prototype. When cold butter is hard straight from the fridge, for example, it takes a relatively high level of force to press it through the needle into the pretzel. A solution was found in the form of a motor to press the butter through the injection needle. To ensure that the quantities of butter were accurately controlled, the two developers opted to use Logo! 8 from Siemens. “We were impressed by the cost-to-performance ratio and also the compact design,” said Feil. “In addition, the software with its modular structure and the easy connection of functions using drag & drop allows simple project engineering even by non-professional programmers.”  

Once programmed, the operator can start the sequence for each pretzel by simply pressing a button. The correctly portioned quantity of butter is pressed out of the metal container through the needle into the pretzel by a pressing rod. A lamp indicates when the supply of butter is running low in the container. “Our machine takes around ten seconds to turn a plain pretzel into a buttered one. And the butter quantity is precisely portioned,” explained Feil. Users can keep an eye on the portioning process at all times using an optional KP300 Simatic Basic Panel, and adjust it if necessary. The machine can be operated and monitored using the supplementary module for remote communication with the aid of a smartphone app.

The second machine generation now also optionally comes with active electrical cooling. “This ensures that the butter stays fridge-cold at all times for that freshly prepared taste – even in summer,” said Feil. To allow industrial production of buttered pretzels in large quantities, MFDO UG is planning to bring out a machine with a larger butter container and injection variants for different fillings such as nut paste.  

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