For Stelram Engineering no challenge is ever too great. So when the company was approached with a request to develop a machine that would cut and trim carrots, ready to deal with the peak demand in the festive season, its engineers were not in the least daunted. Calling on their in-depth knowledge of water-jet cutting technology, they swiftly produced an efficient and cost-effective machine that delivered a convenient and hygienic result.
Stelram’s engineers investigated the customer’s requirements, but accurately slicing carrots is no easy task. If conventional blades are used, these must be kept very sharp as the pressure needed to cut with a blunt blade can damage the carrots, making them unsaleable. The blades must also be kept immaculately clean to achieve the exceptional standards of hygiene that are essential in the food industry.
And there’s also the potential issue of cross contamination – if a damaged or diseased carrots find their way into the slicing machine, the residues left on the blades could contaminate subsequent vegetables, which means they must be discarded – at considerable loss for the food processor.
The experienced Stelram engineers, however, knew of a better approach – water-jet cutting, where the vegetables are sliced with nothing but a fine jet of high-pressure water projected from a nozzle. This has many benefits, not the least of which is that the water jet is sterile so that there is no risk of contaminating the product, or of cross-contamination. In addition, there are no blades to clean and sharpen. The safety hazards unavoidably associated with sharp blades are also eliminated.
When Stelram explained these benefits to its customer, the company was immediately given the go-ahead to develop and manufacture a slicing machine based on water-jet cutting technology.
The finished machine is configured for manual loading and unloading. After loading, the machine’s infeed conveyor transports the vegetables to the cutting station where they are cut and trimmed by two water-jet cutters operating in tandem. The outfeed conveyor then transports the resulting slices or pieces to the unloading station.
The machine dependably produces carrot slices of the required thickness with smooth, cleanly cut surfaces and no product damage. The design of the machine eliminates the risk of contamination and ensures that cleaning, which is minimal, is easy to carry out. Further, by processing two vegetables simultaneously, the machine achieves the high throughput needed by the end user. A further benefit is that the machine can be quickly reconfigured for use with a wide range of other vegetables, including aubergines, courgettes, and cucumbers.
Stelram’s engineers may not have quite achieved the food-industry equivalent of the alchemist’s dream of transmuting lead into gold, but transforming everyday vegetables into delicious, ready to use chunks that have a long use by date – must surely come close!
Visit www.stelram.co.uk for more information about the potential of water-jet cutting technology.