The food and drink industry plays a significant part in UK economy and the high levels of competition between manufacturers means that they are continually seeking new, more efficient methods of production for the ever growing range of products which we see on the supermarket shelves.
Satisfying the demands for increased output, flexibility and efficiency requires a highly innovative approach to the concepts used to produce the automated manufacturing systems that have become an integral and essential part of the industry.
QUASAR Automation, with over 30 years experience has evolved to become one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Automation and Robot Systems for the UK Food Processing industry. The company designs and builds systems for a diverse range of food manufacturing and processing applications. The company’s reputation for solving food processing problems has led many Blue Chip companies to approach QUASAR for solutions to some of the most demanding food industry applications.
Bob Hinchcliffe commented “whilst there are many highly respected machinery and automation companies providing standard solutions for what might be considered traditional processing, handling and packaging applications, QUASAR thrives on defining and creating solutions for some of the most challenging applications. Often there are no standard solutions available and these are the areas where we become an invaluable resource to our customers. We often create systems based upon a number of standard automation elements combined with bespoke equipment.”
The company positively embraces technology and continually seeks new ways to address applications which are either labour intensive or which would benefit in terms of quality and output from the introduction of automation. One project currently under way at the company’s in house development lab involves the use of a 3D Vision system integrated to a six axis robot to enable automatic decoration and icing of complex and variable shaped products. Bob Hinchcliffe added “this is a classic example of how we operate with our customers. In this application there is a high labour content required due to the natural variation within the product. We have developed a solution which will use the 3D surface data from the vision system to dynamically offset the robot programme, allowing the robot to accurately and consistently dispense product whilst precisely following the contours of the item.”
Another area, where the company excels, is in food cutting and portioning. QUASAR’s first venture into food cutting was 20 years ago and this mechanical cutting system is still in use today producing flapjacks. Over the years the company has delivered systems based upon reciprocating blades, band saws and rotary knives. Today, the latest cutting systems from QUASAR are based upon ultrasonics, water jet and six axis robot systems.
Ultrasonic technology is the ideal solution for cutting a diverse range of materials but especially soft and delicate productswhich can be prone to damage from traditional mechanical cutting systems. Combine the benefits of the ultrasonic process with a six axis robot and you have a system which is highly flexible, fast, efficient and reliable. QUASAR has pioneered several innovative solutions to ultrasonic cutting.
For example, the QUASAR system at Park Cakes uses 2 six axis robots, together with ultrasonics, to cut and portion not just the cake, but the base paper on which the cake sits. Hinchcliffe says ”the supplier of the ultrasonic equipment for this system told us it was impossible to cut the paper, however following extensive trials and using different techniques, we found a solution which has proven to be somewhat unique.” The flexibility of the robotic cutting system here allows it to produce a wide range of cake products at exceptionally high speeds.
The company is also currently building a high pressure water jet based cutting system which will be delivered to a Lancashire based customer and used to cut celery using 4 cutting heads. Water jet provides not just a clean cut, it also eliminates the risk of damage to the product from mechanical cutting systems, effectively extending shelf life. This non-robotic system will operate at speeds of 120 products per minute, a significant increase when compared to the output from the previous mechanical cutting system. The full range of solutions available from QASAR encompasses robots, conveying, depositing, cutting, filling, aeration and packaging together with complete production lines incorporating multiple processes for products such as unit cakes, cheesecakes, sandwiches, desserts and ready meals.
Whilst the UK food industry continues to address ever increasing consumer demands for convenience, price and choice, together with the ongoing environmental challenges, there is likely to be an ongoing demand for the innovative automation solutions provided by QUASAR.
For More Information – Please Contact
Quasar Automation Limited,
Old Sleningford Farm,
Telephone – +44(0) 1765 635 508
E-Mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Web – www.quasarautomation.com