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Ultrasonic’s for all

28 May 2019

Ultrasonic cutting technology is finding many converts within the food processing industry where it is being used by companies of all sizes. Food Processing reports. 

Ultrasonic technology has established itself as a popular cutting solution for many food processors, and the technology is not just suited to use in high volume, highly automated production cells. 

Redditch-based Blue Earth Foods Limited, for example, turned to a semi-automated ultrasonic solution from Telsonic when seeking to improve the quality and consistency of its frozen Seafood Mousse products. The company is a supplier of chilled seafood products, specialising in the creation store-ready products.

The company’s Seafood Mousse is produced with various fillings and manufactured in a slab form ready for portioning. This seasonal product was proving difficult to cut and portion manually when using traditional mechanical methods due to its delicacy and variable consistency. Trials using  ultrasonic technology were undertaken to determine if the process could deliver the accurate and neat portion control required.

Following the successful outcome of the cutting and portioning trials, Telsonic UK was commissioned to produce a semi-automatic stand-alone machine, built upon a stainless steel framework and incorporating lockable castors to make it portable.

At the heart of the machine is a Telsonic AC750 actuator 20kHz/1200W cutting system, encased within a stainless steel cover. Other ultrasonic components include a SE2012 IP67 converter and a MAGW02012E generator which is mounted within a stainless steel control panel.  A single 100mm wide 20kHz titanium slotted cutting blade sonotrode is used to portion the product.

The machine is manually loaded with frozen Seafood Mousse slabs, and an integral indexing conveyor system, complete with drive belt, stainless steel adjustable product guides and sensors, ensures accurate and repeatable product positioning prior to cutting. 

The ultrasonic cutting process and conveyor synchronisation are controlled via a Siemens PLC & mini HMI mounted in an IP65 rated control cabinet. Password protected functions on the HMI include auto cut sequences which set out the ultrasonic cut recipe, number of slices required, first cut slice offset and slice width. Safety status is also displayed, and a manual cut and manual conveyor index testing function is available to assist with set-up. 

Control and safety circuits comprise of a palm start, emergency stop and reset, and the machine includes full safety guarding, manufactured from stainless steel box section with hinged access doors and clear polycarbonate infill panels. Side protection at the conveyor area includes flap guards with safety interlocks.

Bakery success
Another food industry sector that is seeing the benefit of ultrasonic cutting solutions is bakeries, where there is a constant need to reduce costs and increase quality. Here ultrasonic robotic cutting cells are proving a popular choice, according to WMH. 

Whether the requirement is to cut Yule logs, sponge cakes, flapjacks, fruit cakes or quiches, ultrasonic cutting cells have the flexibility to cope, says a WMH spokesperson. The company has over 40 years' experience working in bakeries and other food production facilities so has built up a great deal of knowledge about the specific hygiene requirements demanded of food industry application and this knowledge has been used to create a range of cutters suited to the demands of high-care wash-down environments.

Operation of the WMH cutting cells is via a graphic touch-screen HMI which provides multiple levels of access for different user groups including operators and engineers. Operator control is limited to menu selection for the pre-programmed products. The system supports radial cutting for round products and parallel cutting for square and rectangular products. Both of which can be tailored to meet your exact cutting needs and can be added to and amended as production requirements change.

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