Research and development departments in most companies are busy as ever, even though trade fairs and inhouse events cannot go ahead as usual. This is no different at Weber Maschinenbau. At the beginning of May, Weber invited customers around the world to its weLIVE virtual event to finally present the innovations and developments it had been working on in the past months. Thanks to the digital event format, participants were able to experience line solutions for sliced meat and cheese production up close, even in these unprecedented times, and personally discuss products and services as well as current industry trends with Weber's experts. The huge interest proves that this event was right on trend: More than 800 customers from all over the world took up the invitation.
"Setting trends and turning needs into solutions while consistently focusing on the customer – this is what Weber has been excelling at for 40 years. We continuously search for ever improving solutions to provide our customers with even more perfectly tailored, even more targeted support and even further improve their production and products. We aim to be a strong and reliable partner for our customers across the entire process chain, from product conditioning prior to slicing up to packaging," emphasizes Jörg Schmeiser, Chief Sales Officer at Weber Maschinenbau. "In the runup to weLIVE, we considered the current trends, our customers' present and future challenges, and how we can help them seize market opportunities." The interactive event therefore focused on all-in-one line solutions for processing and packaging sliced meats and cheeses, which provide answers to these exact topics. Each line represented a tailored solution for the respective application. The line concepts also reflect current market trends, particularly with regard to sustainability, flexibility, and efficiency.
A high-speed cheese solution for maximum yield with minimum effort was one of the agenda items. This line solution is "Simply The Best" when it comes to highly automated cheese processing at the highest performance levels. Compared to other solutions on the market, this particular Weber solution stands out for its unrivalled cost-effectiveness: Thanks to maximum yield, minimum give-away, and the smallest possible end pieces, food processing companies can look forward to more profit at the end of the day. This is possible thanks to two product innovations that were premiered at weLIVE.
The cheese block divider weDIVIDE, which has been developed inhouse, has now been added to the Weber portfolio. The weDIVIDE divides euro block formats as well as cheddar and natural cheese into uniform cheese bars and prepares them for further processing. Depending on customer requirements, the Weber cheese block divider provides various functionalities and options – from integrated manual loading to sorting, buffering, and trimming on the sides. The trimming frame, which can be moved both horizontally and vertically, is a particularly sophisticated technical refinement.
This logical portfolio expansion toward an even more highly automated all-in-one line with even greater performance reflects Weber's aim to provide all-in-one solutions particularly strongly. "The presented solutions provide a clear idea of the multiple opportunities for optimization in sliced meat and cheese production when the focus is on all-in-one, consistent line concepts," emphasizes Jörg Schmeiser. According to him, keeping an eye on the entire process instead of just individual process steps and optimally using, linking, and evaluating all the available data of a line make it possible to create real added value for food-processing companies.
weDIVIDE reflects this approach even more clearly in connection with another line component, the automatic infeeder weLOAD 7000, which was also presented at weLIVE for the first time. Due to the interaction between an intelligent control and the comprehensive network of line components, which facilitates direct communication between the cheese block divider, scanner, infeeder, and slicer, empty packages are reduced to a minimum. Ultimate effectiveness is achieved in connection with the weDIVIDE cheese block divider because the carriage is controlled via digital integration as well and the weights of the individual cheese bars are spread evenly prior to the start of the process. This is a clear advantage in terms of sustainability and profitability. The weLOAD 7000 also has the great advantage of an extremely compact footprint and smooth portion transport. The special "GentleTransport" software thus makes it the perfect solution for sensitive products and applications and generally facilitates full automation without requiring subsequent manual correction or monitoring.
A further highlight that met with great interest from the attending trade professionals was a Weber system solution that combined automation with ultimate flexibility on a very small footprint. Consisting of the new weSLICE 4500 involute blade slicer, a fully integrated wePICK 7000 pick robot with a unique buffer function, and the wePACK 7000 thermoforming packaging machine equipped with two formats, this line concept is the perfect all-round solution for full-line suppliers. At an average output, it offers maximum flexibility for many small-batch applications – all on a very modest footprint. The compact Weber slicer, weSLICE 4500, allows the option of manual and automatic loading as required. Additionally, radical reductions in set-up times, combined with lower staff requirements, also help to minimize costs in the long term.
However, there was yet another product innovation for this line, the Weber SprayTech. This smart technology makes it possible to spray a non-stick agent onto the product that cannot be detected by consumers so that individual portion slices can be removed more easily and without damage. This technology could possibly also be used for the application of semi-luxury food or agents that extend the product's shelf life. The Weber SprayTech only starts spraying when the blade releases the product, in order to use resources more sustainably and prevent unnecessary mess in the slicer room. The Weber SprayTech can be fully integrated in all current Weber and TEXTOR slicers in terms of software and used for a multitude of products and applications, including track-related vario applications. In many cases, it can therefore replace the function of a paper or film insert often used at present.
During moderated Q & A sessions and in a chat, trade professionals had the opportunity to exchange information directly with Weber's experts and ask individual questions on the line concepts presented.