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Robotic cutting solution improves yields

08 July 2019

Food Processing looks at the latest developments in robotic ultrasonic cutting technology which have helped one baked goods manufacturer to almost eliminate product waste. It is now regularly recording 100% yield on production. 

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Robot controlled cutting machines for bakery production lines are already a familiar site on food manufacturing sites. Historically, however, there has been some resistance to the adoption of robotic installations in baked goods production. “I believe that this has primarily been due to the limited functionality of machines and also the long delivery lead times on kit installation, said Steve Rawlinson, managing director of Newtech Intelligent Automation. “This was why when we moved into designing and building our own machine range; we wanted to offer a range of product specific equipment and bespoke solutions so we could be very flexible in meeting a customer’s specific requirements.”

To help Newtech achieve its goals it worked closely with its components supplier, SMC Pneumatics.  “Our focus has always been to offer something different from other manufacturers of automated cutting machines – flexible functionality on high quality machines that are able to handle multiple food products with fast turnaround on delivery and on-site installation of the machine,” continued Rawlinson. “I believe it is that flexibility in product offering that out food industry customers are now looking for, and we have developed the cutting blade technology and control software systems able to deliver that.  Whether you are a low volume producer of specialist cakes who needs ultrasonic cutting to handle a sticky product or a mass manufacturer who needs a machine with 3D vision to ensure accurate portion control across thousands of units of pre-packed quiche, we can build the machine to handle that more efficiently and cleanly than ever before and deliver a significant return on investment.”

Scalable solutions
In addition to providing scalable and operator friendly functionality on all our machines, engineering integrity is key to our design ethos.  “All our pneumatic and automation control system components are provided by SMC,” said Rawlinson. Where required, the company’s engineers work in conjunction with the engineering team at SMC to develop bespoke parts for a customer, but the majority are standard components – all built on a modular system, which makes it easier to scale up to handle the need for increased capacity.

Daily programming is controlled by the machine operator who will pick the programme or recipe required for any given run.  If required, Newtech engineers can run a diagnostics check on any individual machine, anywhere in the world through our closed Customer Ethernet connection.  We can then problem-solve the issue remotely and advise the on-site engineering team on any action required.

Wright’s Pies
Wright’s Pies, a manufacturer of baked goods and confectionery, is a long-term Newtech customer. As the company has grown it has needed to increase production capacity. In 2015, Newtech and SMC had been developing a special Robo-Sonic cutting machine able to handle out of tray product as well as in-tray baked products.  The machine was purpose-built for that year’s IBA exhibition in Munich, Germany but before it could get there, the team at Wrights Pies had already put their name on it.

The machine offered a range of key features including highly accurate trim removal; the ability to cut different mediums – cake, cheesecake, quiche; one-button programming for different recipes; and the ability to handle in-line round or square tray bake cutting operations. The modular construction of the machines means there is very little downtime required for maintenance, and it features an in-line blade cleaning system.

Since installing the Robo-Sonic machine at its factory in Crewe, Wright’s Pies is regularly recording 100% yield on production. With virtually no product waste it is already seeing a significant return on investment in this machine and is making savings on the cost of specialist food waste disposal.  

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