Ishida Europe has launched an enhanced version of its weigh-batcher that allows the accurate weighing of fresh meat and poultry to be combined with manual manipulation in order to optimise the products’ arrangement and presentation in a tray. The company says the new system can easily double speeds for these difficult-to-handle products while maintaining good product-in-tray presentation for the retail outlet.
The weigh-batcher comprises Ishida’s proven screw feeder weigher which is linked to a number of packing stations (between one and 20) where operators place product into trays. User trials have shown that on average an operator can pack six trays per minute, meaning that for a configuration of eight packing stations, the weigh-batcher delivers 48 filled trays per minute with typically just 1% giveaway per tray.
The over-mounted screw feeder weigher has been specifically designed for sticky, difficult-to-handle fresh products and features rotating metal spirals that provide a powerful, controlled and fully automatic product feed to the pool hoppers. The Ishida R Series’ unique calculation processing software helps to deliver pinpoint accuracy at the required packing speeds.
Each accurately weighed portion is rapidly conveyed via a special belt / diverter system to the next available packing station. The weigh batcher can optimise the interplay between packing station / worker and weigh-batcher via software to maximise the speed and efficiency of the system.
When each portion arrives at its packing station an operator transfers the product to a tray, styling and manipulating it as required by the retailer and to ensure the product does not interfere with the subsequent packing operation. The completed tray is then placed on an ‘out’ belt for sealing, labelling and quality control. The station automatically informs the system once the filled and styled tray has left, triggering the sending of another portion to be packed.
A user-friendly control panel allows the performance of each operator and each shift to be monitored. The open, accessible design of the weigh-batcher and its IP66 rated construction allow it to serve the tough hygiene and cleaning regimes of the meat and poultry industry.
The weigh-batcher is ideal for products where styling or other manual reworking of filled trays is essential to achieve a high-quality tray presentation. Ishida says that as well as fast speeds and minimal product giveaway, the new system can reduce labour by up to 60% compared with an entirely manual operation.
In addition, the ergonomic workstation design reduces repetitive strain injury (RSI), while the product delivery system, which ensures that each station always has a portion of product in reserve, effectively eliminates operator downtime.
As an option the weigh batcher can pack more than one target weight at a time. For example it can fill 500g and 800g trays, with the facility to give priority to the 500g tray. This means that if a weighment is too heavy for a 500g tray, the screw feeder weigher can discharge the ‘overweight’ portion to a station for 800g packs rather than having to recycle it, thus helping to maximise packing efficiency.
Other options available include special hoppers fitted with scrapers to prevent product from clinging to the gates, and adapters to enable the workstations to accept product from the weighers directly into bags.