The type and configuration of Conveyor which is integrated into the decorating system is designed accordingly to suit product type and throughput.
Generally, flighted indexing is used in the savoury market due to the containers i.e. foils or pet trays, alternatively for confectionery, gateaux and Celebration Cakes would require a continuously run, food quality plastic or PVC belt with synchronised stop motion and program start signal via a through beam product sensor.
Over the last few years, Apple has invested significantly on a research and development program in order to create, design and manufacture a fully automatic and real three dimensional Multi-Axis Universal Decorating Machine.
Initially, the machine was developed with the savoury market in mind for cream potato topped products such as cottage pie, shepherd's pie and fisherman's pie, however, as the machine was a continuous development, further flexibility was enhanced utilising the very latest technology. It is now recognised that other markets are available where labour intensive hand decoration is required i.e. confectionery, gateaux decoration and Celebration Cakes.
Initially all programme designs were written and supplied by Apple Food Systems to suit customer requirements, however this was found to be very labour intensive and customers demanded a more user friendly approach. Due to technological advances in computer-aided design, we now have that availability in as much as the design can now be drawn by light pen or tracer pen directly onto a graphics pad and that can be transferred onto the cake in minutes.
Speed of throughput is totally dependent upon complexity of design being decorated, accordingly a simple design may only require a 5/6 second cycle time whilst a more complex design could exceed 30/40 second cycle time. However, multiple pumps can be adapted to the same motion control system and a corresponding number of products to be decorated can be accepted at the same time in a linear or Multi-Lane configuration, thereby reducing decorating time to a minimum.
What we did
Our client is one of the largest frozen ready meals producers in the US, making two million meals every day at three manufacturing facilities.
The firm contacted Apple when it wanted to replace one of its depositing machines which was being used to apply gravy and sauces to ready meal trays and was losing significant amounts through lack of accuracy.
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