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Ultrasonic cutting technology on show

10 December 2018

Food Processing looks ultrasonic cutting solutions, which vibrate as they cut, which ensures a cleaner cut and no clogging of cutting blades – useful features in many food applications. 

WMH twin-robot inline cutting cell incorporates two Mitsubishi Electric Melfa robots, fitted with Telsonic cutting blades with WMH conveying and controls technology.
WMH twin-robot inline cutting cell incorporates two Mitsubishi Electric Melfa robots, fitted with Telsonic cutting blades with WMH conveying and controls technology.

At the PPMA exhibition, a variety of food cutting solutions were on display. Emerson Automation Solutions, for example, demonstrated how the application of its Branson ultrasonic cutting technology in food applications can enable smooth penetration of the item being cut to help reduce breakage and product deformation therefore helping to reduce product waste.

Ultrasonic cutting technology utilises a vibrating blade as opposed to a static blade. The vibrations create an almost frictionless cutting surface, providing neater cuts, faster processing, minimal waste, longer blade life and less downtime. Unlike traditional blades, which can clog when cutting sticky foodstuffs, ultrasonic systems keep cutting cleanly and can eliminate the need to use release agents.

Steady growth
Telsonic UK showed its ultrasonic cutting modules and systems. Food cutting using ultrasonics remains a steady growth area for Telsonic, especially in applications where the technology is used in conjunction with robots. The increase in the number of systems being integrated into robots can, in part, be attributed to the company’s development of special sonotrodes, both 500mm in width and most recently 760mm in width, designed for 30” x 18” tray bake applications. These can be either robot mounted or guillotine mounted, depending on the application.

IP rated systems include double-length and lightweight ‘T’ sonotrodes for cutting deeper products, and are driven by Telsonic’s 20kHz MAG generators. The robot-friendly modules are being employed by a number of food industry system integrators to produce cutting and portioning systems for applications on tray baked products, round cakes, gateaux’s and products presented on conveyor systems.

Two robots
One of Telsonic’s partners is Western Mechanical Handling (WMH), a machine builder specialising in the design manufacture and installation of production process automation solutions for the food industry.

WMH’s range of compact, hygienic and flexible cutting cell units range from stand-alone cells for low throughput and batch operations to multi-robot inline units for high throughput, inline operations.

The company’s flagship model is its twin-robot inline system which incorporates two Mitsubishi Electric Melfa robots, fitted with Telsonic cutting blades with WMH conveying and controls technology to offer an accurate and compact solution for cutting and slicing cakes, pies and other foods products.

The system utilises product specific platens, which accurately locate each product relative to the platten and provide 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 position of the cutting blade to compensate, making for very accurate cutting.  Working in tandem, the two robots provide a production rate of up to 96 cuts per minute. This equates to around 12 cakes per minute.

Operation of the system is through a touch-screen HMI which provides multiple levels of access for different user groups. Operator control is limited to menu selection for the pre-programmed products and the system supports radial cutting for round products and parallel cutting for square and rectangular products, both of which can be tailored to the exact needs for production and can be added to and amended as production requirements change.

An integrated wash-tank with air knife provides interval cleaning of the cutting blades during production and the structure of the unit is 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.

The standalone unit at the bottom of the WMH range incorporates all the benefits of the top of the range unit without compromising on performance or build quality and will provide repeatable and accurate performance for batch operations and where space is at a premium.

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