Automation at its best.

Weber line solutions takes automatic production of convenience products to a new level.

In the area of sliced products in particular, Weber has reached a leading position in the food industry with its integrated processing and packaging lines. But today, Weber is synonymous with much more than that. In recent years, their portfolio has been continuously expanded with solutions for other product and market segments. Piece goods, snacks and convenience products like pizza, sandwiches and ready meals, fish applications, baked goods – Weber stands for the development and provision of innovative solutions for automating and processing fresh, perishable foods, evidenced by countless successful customer projects and by the exhibits at the company’s stand at the Anuga FoodTec. One of the highlights among those exhibits: an innovative automation concept for producing snacks and convenience products demonstrated by the example of a special set-up for snack trays with cheese cubes and sliced mini salami. Where other systems have limitations, this unique automation solution allows producers to implement applications and requirements that could not otherwise be realized – automation and flexibility at its best.

Looking at the layout of this line concept, we see that the configuration consists of two independent Weber weSHUTTLE lines that prepare and process the different products needed for this snack tray application. The first line is preceded by a Weber weSLICE 4000 circular blade slicer that slices cheese pieces on two tracks. For applications in the medium performance range, the slicer offers maximum flexibility to realize many applications in a very small space, making it the ideal choice for this line concept. The second line starts with a Weber Slicer 305, which precisely slices small snack salamis on four tracks and positions stacks the slices on two tracks. This slicer as well is perfectly suited for efficiently producing medium output quantities. The Weber weSHUTTLE transport system is at the heart of this creative processing solution. With maximum flexibility in terms of application variety and spatial configuration, line solutions centered around the weSHUTTLE can be tailored to each customer’s specific conditions and needs. The individual track layout is a real game changer when it comes to integrating new production lines into existing, limited production spaces. This not only saves valuable space but also money, as customers can use the full capacity of their production area on a minimized floor plan. Additionally, the weSHUTTLE contributes to greater food safety thanks to the high degree of automation. Due to the reduction in human intervention in the production process and the hygienic advantages of the system, better hygiene and longer product shelf lives are achieved. Intermediate cleaning of the line is quickly and easily possible because the portion carriers can be removed in no time and without tools. As an option, a UVC disinfection can be integrated compactly in the system. This automatically and continuously disinfects the portion carriers, significantly contributing to product safety.

With the Weber ShuttleLoader, the weSHUTTLE portion carriers of both lines are automatically loaded with the cheese pieces and mini salami portions cut previously. The ShuttleLoader can automatically correct the lateral portion position, which increases process reliability and makes manual intervention to adjust the portions unnecessary. The portion carriers can be individually adapted depending on the product and application – especially important in this line concept, because the cheese pieces still need one more process step to turn them into cheese cubes. While a Weber ShuttleLoader places the mini salami portions into the snack tray packages at the end of one line, the cheese pieces are transported to a Weber wePICK 5130 pick robot within the other line. The cheese cube station is located in the infeed area of the pick robot. It does not need any additional space, as it is completely integrated into the Weber wePICK. First, the cheese pieces are fed through an alignment station that moves them precisely into the correct position before cutting. Then, a wire cutter is used to cut the cheese pieces into evenly sized cubes – for a precise look in every package. The automatic wire breakage sensor is instrumental in achieving this excellent result and more process reliability. Thanks to the cutting wire monitor, which measures the tension in the cutting wire, the pick robot knows exactly when the cheese cubes are ready. It can remove them directly from the portion carrier without losing any time and place them on the trays. This process of placing the cubed cheese portions into the packaging is so gentle that no cube ever slides out of place and the cheese is presented in a visually pleasing way. At the end of the process chain, the fully loaded tray is transferred to a packaging line by a Weber wePICK.

With this automation concept, there is nothing to limit the creativity of food processing operations: Other products can also be inserted and flexibly transported with the weSHUTTLE transport system any way the customer requires. The Weber weSHUTTLE is ideally suited for the economic, flexible, and highly automated production of sliced-product variety packs or convenience products such as sandwiches, the automatic filling of all kinds of ready meals, as well as the automatic application of pizza toppings. And of course, other types of packaging machines, thermoformers for example, can also be integrated into this automation concept, so it is possible to produce a wide range of packaging types.


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