Recent cutting developments by Western Mechanical Handling engineers have led to significant cost savings and increased quality for a large desserts bakery.
Over recent months WMH’s trial robotic cutting cell has been out on long-term loan to a large desserts bakery where modifications to the unit have enabled the factory to reduce labour costs, improve product quality and reduce product wastage and give-away.
The cutting cell incorporates WMH conveyor and control technology with a Mitsubishi Electric 6-axis Robot and Telsonic ultrasonic cutting blades to provide a robust, hygienic unit with the flexibility to cope with a range of product cutting and portioning requirements.
Offering both radial and parallel cutting the unit has been used for dividing round cakes and rectangular tray-bakes into individual portions upstream of packing, it has also been used for slicing cheese and cutting large blocks into retail pack sizes.
The unit takes individual products, cuts them to the desired pattern then waits for the next cake to be loaded. To register the cakes in the correct position for cutting a jig is used. The original intention was for products, which are baked in a disposable carrier, to be removed from the carrier, placed in the jig and cut. While this worked reasonably well cutting the cakes there were several areas that needed to be addressed to improve the process further, these included; the carriers were awkward to remove without damaging the product; slices were moving during the cutting process meaning the jig was making small imprints on the edges of the cakes and It was found that a high level of waste was created when operators removed the unprotected individual slices.
Significant improvements were made when it was decided to try cutting the cakes in the outer carriers. By protecting the cake in its carrier, the product could be held more firmly in the jig without incurring damage to the outer edges and the delicate point was also supported when being handled, reducing waste caused by damaged pieces. In addition, the carrier was much easier to remove from the pieces once it had been cut.
Tests carried out on the product cut in this way confirmed that there was no contamination of the product by the carrier and therefore this method of production satisfied their standards.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of these trials which have seen significant benefits over and above those anticipated” said a spokesman for WMH.
This development in capabilities has formed the basis of a future project for another bakery and the manufacture of a second stand-alone test-unit which will be ready for peak Christmas production in the coming months.