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Right on the cutting-edge

18 June 2018

Food Processing reports on some of the most cutting-edge technologies available for food industry applications. 

Slicing equipment has become become bigger and more complex over the years as the food industry strives for optimum efficiency, reducing operational costs and increased yield recovery. Unfortunately, in many cases this has limited the use of slicing machines to just the tasks for which they were originally specified, which poses problems for many food processors as their needs often change in line customer demands and evolving product ranges.

Interfood Slicing, which partners with Weber, has also seen a growing demand to better utilise any available factory space and so the latest addition to the Weber slicing range is designed to answer these challenges.

The Weber S6 has a compact design. Despite having a machine width of just 1,300mm it offers a wide slicing throat which can accommodate products up to 520mm wide. It also incorporates Weber’s durable involute blade and can operate with all Weber blade sizes. The open design of the slicer ensures optimum visibility, along with fast cleaning and rapid changeover times.

Andre Clareboets, group divisional manager, High Risk at Interfood, said: “One of the advantages of the S6 is its future-proof and modular design. The S6 slicer can be optimally re-tasked as production needs change; importantly without compromising performance.”

Ease of operation and maximised machine uptime is ensured through a quick-change system, requiring minimum tools, for the blade, the shear bar and the gripper heads, while an in-line loading system optimises loading times and ensures secure transport of the product, further optimising yield recovery with reduced gripper waste. Hygienic and secure vacuum gripping systems are also available further helping to increase yield recovery by reducing gripper end piece size. The machine is also said to be the only slicer capable of offering up to four track independently controlled interleaving in conjunction with the Weber Vario gripper system. Portion completion is a standard feature, again in conjunction with the Vario gripper system, allowing for absolute optimisation of feedstock recovery with minimum manual intervention and no incomplete portions.

Attention has also been given to operator safety with access to the slicer provided by the ‘Safety Guard Design’ system to allow safe and easy cleaning, with an enlarged cabinet space to make maintenance easier.

Twin-robot ultrasonic cutting cell
A new state-of-the-art twin-robot in-line ultrasonic cutting unit is now in the final stages of completion by WMH. The unit will sit at the top of the company’s existing range of cutting cells and is designed for in-line production in a high-care food manufacturing environment. The twin-robot in-line system incorporates two Mitsubishi Electric Melfa robots, fitted with Telsonic cutting blades with WMH conveying and controls technology to provide an accurate and compact solution for cutting and slicing of cakes, pies and other foods products.

The cell is designed to handle platens of product and has the ability to accurately locate the product for each cut and provides product containment during cutting. The platens also act as a cutting surface, protecting the conveyor belt from damage.

Each platen is designed so the system can identify the orientation of the product and adjust the orientation of the cutter to suit. Working in tandem, the two robots provide a production rate of up to 12 pieces per minute, depending on the nature of the product and the number of slices required.

The inline cutter will be programmed to cut rectangular slabs into small squares and round cakes into wedge slices. Control of the line is via a touch-screen HMI panel with operator and engineering level function control.

An integrated wash-tank with air knife provides interval cleaning of the cutting blades during operation. The complete line has also been designed with washdown features built-in, including cantilever conveyor design for quick and easy belt removal, spaced off brackets and bearings to eliminate areas where debris could accumulate and enclosed cabling and fully welded stainless-steel frame construction.

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