09 Apr 2017

AUTOMATING CONVEYING WITH THE WEBER SHUTTLE SYSTEM

Finding ways to automate processes in food production remains a central focus in the food industry as processors look to optimise costs through improved efficiency, as well as reduce the potential for product contamination by minimising the need for human handling.

Conveying products through the various stages of processing is a basic requirement and Interfood Technology are now offering a flexible alternative to conventional belt-based systems.  As the sole distributor in the UK and Ireland for Weber - well known worldwide in the high-speed slicing and automation arena – Interfood introduce the Weber Shuttle System (WSS) to the wider food processing industry.

Described as setting new standards in food production, WSS enables products to be conveyed throughout the production process precisely and at optimum efficiency. The system is based on a track system that is non-mechanically driven, allowing multiple scenarios for system design and integration into existing production facilities.

Products are conveyed on a carrier that can move them, for example, from depositing stations requiring a static depositing target to stations requiring an accurate constant moving target where spreading is required. Speeds can be separately controlled in areas such as bends and 180 degree switchbacks - typically points which can cause issues - ensuring the product is handled gently without disruption during optimised conveying speeds. Andre Clareboets, Divisional Manager for Interfood Slicing, comments – “Given Weber’s wide-ranging experience in slicing, examples of applications naturally include slicing lines where multiple products are required in the same package (platters). These products would normally be sliced on individual slicers and then can be collated and automatically loaded into a packaging machine, typically with a Weber Pick and Place system. However, opportunities are certainly not confined to slicing. For example, in ready meal lines and other make up lines such as sandwiches and pizzas where multiple actions are required to create the finished product, the system offers significant advantages.”

The ability to move the product between each operation and easily select stations and positions by product type allows for complete flexibility and easy product changeovers. Buffering areas, weighing stations and manual correction areas can all be created with the addition of an In-Line cleaning system for the product carriers, ensuring product safety. The system is completely safe in use due to its lack of mechanical drive systems and operators can interface directly without risk and without the need for barriers and safety devices. Andre continues – “We believe the possibilities are endless allowing for the creation of automated industrial food processing systems which offer the ultimate in efficiency.”

WSS can be integrated with Weber’s leading range of established loading and automation systems, such as robotic loading solutions, or integrated with existing systems. Thus far the focus has been on selected key areas of the food industry but the capabilities of the system provide significant advantages for considerably extending its range of applications.