Optimising performance in cheese slicing

The market knowledge and support services offered by Interfood Technology’s dedicated Slicing Division, coupled with the machine-build expertise of Weber, brings significant opportunities and advantages when it comes to slicing cheese.

Weber and its subsidiary company Textor manufacture a full range of slicers, from small stand-alone machines right through to fully automated slicing lines. Through Interfood, food processors in the UK and Eire can source full turnkey solutions – including packaging machines and end-of-line packing and inspection systems manufactured by Sparc Systems and Buhmann – all from one company and supported by the same service, sales and technical personnel. These solutions, incorporating well-known brands across the whole food processing arena, are already well established in the cheese industry, with the range ensuring that options are available to suit all sizes of operation, whatever the capacity requirements.

As with any capital investment in machinery, service support is an important consideration and is an area in which Interfood prides itself, with experienced and knowledgeable UK based staff. This is backed up by an extensive stock of spares which ensures full support for the full range of Weber and Textor slicers.

Amongst the range are options to ensure the slicer is optimised specifically for cheese slicing, which can add value in terms of presentation whilst not compromising on either speed or performance. The latest generation Weber S6 slicer can be equipped with an up to four track vacuum vario gripper and interleaver system. This machine, when incorporating the cheese specific involute blade head, offers unrivalled performance when it comes to slicing speed, capacity, end piece size and portion presentation.

The Textor TS700 ContiFlow slicer offers a niche solution for operations that utilise a flow wrap packaging system. Capable of cutting up to 500mm wide and equipped with tandem vario grippers, the innovative yet simple pneumatically cross driven conveyor after the blade removes the traditional loading break when re-loading the slicer. This maintains a consistent flow of single portions downstream to the packaging machine, negating the need for additional modules to combine multiple lanes of portions into one, minimising both footprint and cost.

It is not just high-volume cheese slicers that Interfood offers. The round blade Weber 305 and 405 – capable of speeds up to 400 and 600rpm respectively – are equally adept at slicing cheese. Both machines can be equipped with a tandem interleaver and are available in a variety of configurations, ranging from the self-contained “UB” slicers with integrated conveyor for portioning and transportation to “SLC” format which includes reactive weight control feedback via a checkweigher.

Yield recovery is also of paramount importance on all slicing lines and proactive weight control systems are available, with scanning or x-ray options dependent on the requirements of the application. In addition, numerous automated and innovative loading solutions can be included to accommodate various packaging styles. This can be via speed loading with a CCA-500 infeeding system or a Weber-built pick and place robot.

Knife technology is a vitally important element of any slicing line. Weber and Textor operate their own dedicated blade and R&D centre through which constant improvements are being made in blade and cutting head design, helping to extend the limits of machine performance and enabling successful slicing, even for those cheese types which are notoriously difficult to handle.

Tom Foran is Sales Manager, Slicing at Interfood Technology. He comments – “Weber stages a series of regular Cheese Innovation days at it’s manufacturing facility in Breidenbach, Germany with the express focus on how ongoing developments in slicing technology can be applied to improve performance. This allows customers to see exactly how we are pushing the boundaries when slicing cheese or loading. As a business, Interfood always looks at the requirements of a customer and their applications and, working closely with Weber and Textor, arrives at a solution designed to meet those specific needs. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather one which treats each project individually, to maximise a customer’s productivity.”