Cutting meat to order for the supermarkets

Accurate portioning to fixed weight is now all important in the field of automated meat processing. To the retail and catering industry it provides a competitive edge through tight control of costs. A company with a reputation for innovation in this field is AEW Engineering, and it is maintaining that position with its Smartslice 3D machine.

The machine is a high capacity automatic slicer for portioning boneless, fresh or chilled meat, poultry or fish to fixed weight and/or thickness. Smartweight cutting patterns allow choice of priorities to ensure maximum yields and the machine has 50 product program memories for quick product changeover. Playing a major role in achieving this performance is Hepco’s Ring Slide.

Benefits of the Ring Slide are its suitability for direct rack and pinion drive and its provision of circular motion with an open centre. Mounted using concentric and eccentric bearing assemblies the Ring provides a large hollow centre through which a conveyor delivers the uncut meat to the cutting blade. The Ring’s contribution is that it provides the means by which a series of laser scanners can rotate around the product to determine its thickness. It is this scanning method which guarantees portion size and weight accuracy by altering the subsequent cut accordingly.

`The Ring allowed us to design the most logical electromechanical system for the scanning process,’ explained engineering manager, Jonathan Allcorn. `The ability to rotate the scanning heads around the meat gave us two important benefits. We could incorporate a 360 degrees 3D scan which would provide an accurate profile of the meat joint. And secondly, as we could rotate the scanners, only four heads were required.’

Designed for maximum reliability and minimum maintenance, the machine is made in stainless steel and food grade plastic. Accordingly, the 612mm size Ring slide is supplied in stainless steel with corresponding 34mm bearing assemblies.

Hepco Slide Systems Tel: 01884 243400