Weber has been a strong partner of the food industry for more than 40 years. Throughout this time, the company has made it its central task to develop innovative and high-performance solutions for the processing and packaging of food products, solutions that create and add real value for customers. Today, Weber offers a wide range of products, including complete solutions for cold cut production and packaging – from the preparation of the raw product to the finished, tested primary pack. All from one source, seamlessly integrated and intelligently networked. Weber combines powerful line components into even more powerful all-in-one line solutions. These system solutions always have a holistic approach and are adapted to the customer and their individual requirements. At their IFFA trade fair booth, Weber presented two line concepts to the global audience of specialists, both impressing several times over with regards to innovation and integration. Weber also shared innovative solutions that made their “world premiere”. One of these was the Weber high-performance solution for the processing and packaging of cheese.
More performance, maximum automation and higher availability – processing and packaging cheese has never been more economical. Efficiency and precision are unsurpassed all with quality that is second to none. This is made possible by many clever innovations, starting with the new Weber weDIVIDE 7000. The cheese block divider is the perfect start for a highly productive and automated cheese line. No matter if the incoming cheese is in euro block format or presented as wheels: the weDIVIDE divides the raw product into uniform cheese blocks and prepares them for further processing in such a manner that the highest possible yield is achieved – while reducing personnel allocation at the same time.
A particular technical sophistication for the yield-optimized dividing of the cheese, is that the cutting frame can be moved both horizontally and vertically. In conjunction with the intelligent, weight-dependent block placement, this allows empty packages to be reduced downstream and, as a result, line efficiency to be increased while avoiding waste at the same time. Depending on requirements, the Weber cheese block divider provides various functionalities and options: from integrated manual loading to sorting, buffering, and trimming on the sides. In particular with holed cheese applications, the use of an X-ray scanner is essential in order to precisely determine density and weight so that the raw material can be used in the best possible way. The weSCAN 7000 X-ray scanner was therefore part of this line concept. Thanks to a design optimization, even better hygiene conditions and greater user-friendliness can be implemented.
When it comes to precise slicing of demanding products in the highest quality and with the highest performance, Weber has been setting standards for four decades. The market leader has in-depth process and product know-how, which time and again leads to new outstanding solutions. Weber presented one such solution in this line concept: The Weber Slicer weSLICE 9500 is the new high-performance machine in the slicer portfolio, which once again set the standard with regards to quality and performance. On the one hand, the uncompromising slicing quality and performance is achieved using the new Weber DirectDrive technology. The product is precisely guided by the direct drive of all components, so that in addition to perfectly sliced, visually appealing slices, the highest portion weight accuracy is achieved while at the same time providing maximum protection for the product. On the other hand, equipment highlights such as the Weber Durablade Performance involute blade ensures the best slicing quality. The blades at the heart of the slicer come from the own development and production of Weber. Every Weber Durablade therefore incorporates the highest level of know-how from the global slicer market leader. Moreover, the Vario technology of the new slicer-flagship weSLICE 9500 contributes to this unique performance. If Weber vacuum gripper technology is used, the product yield is increased even further, as remaining end pieces are reduced by more than half. The result: production with almost 100% weight-accurate portions and very low give-away. The new Weber Slicer weSLICE 9500 also has a lot to offer with regards to ergonomics, user-friendliness, and safety, such as the new tool-free quick-change system for product holders. Thanks to the comprehensive line integration, the slicer can optimize the line speed for a smooth transport of the portion or automatically regulate the speed of subsequent components upwards. The line is therefore in the position to optimize itself, which leads to an overall increase in quality.
Strong line concepts need strong connection pieces in the form of transport, buffering or loading systems. The Weber CompactBuffer fulfills this task with flying colors and ensures an ideal product flow and the highest capacity. Through intelligently controlled acceleration and deceleration, it transports the portions gently and non-destructively to the insertion point of the packaging machine.
The perfect mechanical and software integration of this line solution are particularly evident in the wePICK, the automatic Weber loading solution. In combination with the wePACK thermoforming packaging machine, the picking robot is completely merged with the thermoformer. Minimal space requirement, easier and faster cleaning of the floor in the production hall and free accessibility to the conveyor belt removal are just a few of the many advantages. Thanks to seamless networking of the line components, the wePICK receives a release signal when the packaging machine moves foil in or out. This facilitates operation and ensures for more sustainability by avoiding the loss of foil.
Highest output, quality, as well as ease of maintenance and service: over the past three years, the Weber thermoforming packaging machine wePACK 7000 has inspired customers worldwide. At the IFFA 2022, the thermoformer presented itself in a further developed version with many new, clever details. One of the impressive highlights is revealed inside the machine: the lifting system with servo drive developed especially for the requirements of the food industry. Quick, strong, precise – made from up to 100% stainless steel, the wePACK lifting system sets new standards with the usual Weber hygienic design and unbeaten speeds for maximum output. Modern servo technology is standard with the wePACK – Weber thereby largely dispenses with expensive compressed air. With weMARK, the Weber thermoform packaging machine presents another technical innovation – the fastest transfer unit for continuous ink jet print heads on the market. The integrated x/y movement unit can be used for all conventional ink jet printers for printing on the top foil and is provided with a “no product, no print” function for the reduction of running costs as standard. Topics such as sustainability, recyclability and resource conservation are more present and relevant than ever before. Therefore, mono-polypropylene (PP), an alternative packaging material, was used for this line at IFFA, which is not only more suitable for recycling systems than conventional foils, but also meets the new requirements of the food retail industry. As a flexible and future-orientated line concept, the wePACK can naturally also be quickly converted to other types of film.
This high-performance line was rounded off by the new Weber weSORT 3000 pack separator. Several lanes can be separated into one lane using the weSORT. Here, the decisive advantages again result from integration: the controller of the weSORT is integrated into the wePACK packaging machine, which not only results in cost savings, by dispensing with additional controller hardware, but also enables recipe changes to be made together with the wePACK. Reduction of changeover times as well as the elimination of error sources when changing recipes are the result. Moreover, the footprint is particularly compact due to the deep mechanical integration, resulting in a reduction of the line length and a favorable price-performance ratio.
In addition to the innovative and powerful technology, the possibilities of integration and networking in particular result in versatile advantages and added value for food processing companies. These range from an increase in efficiency, transparency and process reliability to the reduction of personnel requirements on the line. The unobstructed flow of data across the entire line enables, for example, targeted portion tracking to increase efficiency. The operating personnel can see where each portion is and what condition it is in at all times. Furthermore, it can be freely decided how to deal with portions that have incorrect weight. All information, programs and settings can be called up at one of the control panels at any time and from anywhere. With the help of Weber OneControl technology, it is even possible to control the entire line from any operating terminal. The consistent and intuitive HMI also ensures easy operation.
This intelligent, multi-directional communication of the components ensures comprehensive future reliability of the line. But that's not all: in combination with the new Weber Digital Factory Solutions, the effectiveness of production can be significantly increased once again and comprehensive transparency of the production process can be ensured. That is true integration, truly holistic.