A prime area of current development in slicing technology is line integration and this was clearly in evidence at the recent IFFA exhibition.

The sole distributor for Weber in the UK and Ireland, Interfood Technology attended IFFA to help introduce a number of initiatives, including the newly released Weber wePACK 7000 packaging machines which are making fully integrated high-speed slicing lines possible. Seamless integration across equipment can be an invaluable contributor to efficiency and productivity in food processing operations and Weber’s focus on full line integration ensures there are no boundaries between equipment, with everything from a single source to offer a complete line solution tailored for a given slicing application. Fully integrated control of every function on the line is provided, with seamless integration with the slicer, along with options such as the Weber Pick and Place Robot systems and Compact Loaders which are integrated within the packaging machine frame to substantially reduce the required footprint.

Operating costs are lower as the need for spare parts is reduced by the same components being employed throughout the line. 100% line data is captured in real time, with self-optimising and self-learning line control, including the integration of optical systems that automatically adjust the process for automated loading solutions to ensure accuracy, quality and consistency, without the need for manual intervention. The different processes are perfectly aligned with each other, with increased line efficiency and fewer operating panels.

Also on show at IFFA and part of the integration focus was the Weber wePICK 3000 compact Pick and Place loading system, the first Pick Robot with an integrated buffer function. Its dynamic buffering capability compensates for the reloading time of the slicer in a machine with a very small footprint since no external components are required for buffering sliced portions. The wePICK 3000 can be used in both continuous and indexed packaging systems including flow-wrappers, tray sealers and thermoformers. Loading flexibility is at the heart of the machine’s design, even for products which are typically difficult to handle. It can turn, overlap portions and place multiple products in the same pack, utilising additional units and slicers integrated into the same line. It can be used as a stand-alone unit or be integrated into existing lines, with each module loading up to 60 picks per minute for single head units and up to 100 picks per minute for twin head units, depending on the application.

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