Slicers and dicers are indispensable in dairy production. With a wide range of new and innovative products entering the market, durability, precision and efficiency are top of mind for processors.
With consumption trends constantly shifting and new opportunities arising, the flexibility to produce a range of products is highly desirable. Factors such as greater precision that reduces waste and improves yield or tool-less disassembly for cleaning and sanitizing that takes less time and is more thorough are attractive to virtually all processors.
The ongoing supply chain and labor challenges have highlighted the need for high capacity cutting equipment that will work with round-the-clock production schedules and continue to produce high-quality product over the long term. Automation and integration with new and existing production lines are essential to ensuring continuous operations.
The need for versatility of cutting equipment is critical for brands to address the dynamic nature of the industry’s growth needs.
Interfood Technology, a distributor and service partner based in the United Kingdom, offers significant opportunities when it comes to cheese slicing through its supply of Weber machines and technology. Weber manufactures a full range of slicers, from small stand-alone machines right through to fully automated slicing lines.
These solutions are well established in the cheese industry, with the range ensuring that options are available to suit all sizes of operation. Slicers which are optimized for cheese slicing can add value in terms of presentation without compromising on either speed or performance.
“The Weber S6 slicer can be equipped with an up to four track vacuum vario gripper and interleaver system,” said Tom Foran, divisional manager, slicing, Weber. “This machine, when incorporating the cheese specific involute blade head, reportedly offers unrivalled performance when it comes to slicing speed, capacity, end piece size and portion presentation.”
The weSLICE 9500 from Weber meets the needs of individualized production lines which need intelligent solutions. With an exclusively manufactured blade head, the weSLICE 9500 delivers the high slicing quality even for demanding or extremely hard products.
“We have seen that increased automation and lower staffing levels have become a significant driver recently,” said Foran. “The weSLICE is characterized by greatly reduced set-up times, along with fewer staff required to operate it, ultimately helping to minimize costs in the long term.”
Engineers at Urschel Laboratories Inc., Chesterton, Ind., have also checked the boxes when designing the MicroAdjustable Slicing Head (SL-14). Cutting and shredding cheese is one application for the SL-14.
Urschel offers targeted cutting solutions to the global community of food processors – adapting to the requirements of individual applications. The SL-14 is offered in two styles – one features micro-adjustability, while the other features micro-adjustability plus quick-clamping technology to expedite knife changeovers. This 14-station cutting head offers nearly double the capacity of an 8-shoe head. The design incorporates spacing of cutting stations to maximize slice engagement.
Koss’ stainless steel cheese cutting machines are designed to make many types of cuts to a variety of cheese types. These one, two and three way cutters (which are customizable upon request) have adjustable harps and can handle blocks up to 640 lbs and wheels of any size. Customers can choose from wires or knives, pneumatic, hydraulic or servo actuators, and ultrasonic options are available.
Koss also offers custom-built stainless steel Mozzarella log slicers which feature harp wire intended to produce a better overall cut quality when compared to blades. These units can be customized to produce various slice sizes. They have easily interchangeable slice cartridges to quickly change slice size with little to no downtime. Safety options include a palm button switch and light curtains. The slicers can be modified to fit on most packaging conveyors.
Hart Design also offers a Mozzarella Log slicer which can slice 8 or 16 oz logs. Mozzarella logs are loaded into the formed cavities by the operator and the air operated pusher plates are pushed through the filled formed cavities and proceed to slice through the logs using a cutting harp assembly.
The stainless steel slicers feature two handed start/stop controls for safe operation and can be easily disassembled for cleanup. They are designed to be integrated into new or existing thermoformers.
Modern dicers must be incredibly versatile due to the huge variety of products on the market, as well as the growth of the industry as a whole.
The Affinity Dicer, also from Urschel, accepts infeed sizes up to 10 inches in largest single product dimension. This heavy-duty dicer specializes in the cutting of cheese and difficult-to-cut applications such as items with cold temperature or high-fat content properties to deliver dices as small as 1/8-inch. The rotating feed drum and feed roll help maintain consistent feeding into the dicing elements.
Holac Dicers from Reiser are for high-speed production of shredded cheese for pizza production lines, as well as cheese cubes and flakes for other uses. The dicers provide versatility and produce a variety of uniform product shapes and sizes. Featuring a simple-to-change cutting grid, a single Holac can shred, cube or flake all types of cheese products, offers consistent-size pieces ranging from 1/8-inch to 2 1/4-inch and production rates of 500 to 10,000 lbs per hour. The clean cutting action achieves high yields of precise, targeted cut sizes. Feed spindle and feed drum maintain positive feeding of sticky or moisture-rich products to promote controlled, precision cutting.
Manufacturers of dicing and slicing equipment are expanding their capabilities to handle an increasing variety of ingredients, as well as ensure systems offer greater reliability and performance.