After carrying out intensive in house trials and testing on a commercially sourced catering unit, one of Britain’s leading chilled food manufacturers contacted SEL to assist them with moving forward to produce a special purpose production unit to an exacting specification.
Our customer required the shell of an egg to be cut without damaging or separating the egg white or yolk to ensure individual eggs could be cooked and processed intact. The key challenge for this project was to automate what is normally a laborious and time consuming cooking method into a matter of a few seconds. With novel use of the latest robotic technology and a high tech laser vision system, SEL were able to create a bespoke turnkey solution with the added advantages of precision, consistency and a far cleaner process.
With our obsession of getting things perfect before we let the machine out of our sight, SEL first developed a proof of concept machine with in house development trials to test and analyse the functionality of certain elements of the design. Once a high level of quality standards could be met, the design was finalised and work began on the new robotic egg cutter machine.
The new unit was fitted with a cutting edge high speed laser vision system for fast and accurate egg profile sensing. As the egg rotated, the cutter pierced the shell and using laser tracking, matched the egg profile to maintain a precise depth of cut. This helped solve the problem of cutting abnormally shaped eggs accurately whilst rotating at high speeds.
A six axis industrial robot was installed to process the egg handling, providing the required high speed transfer but with the gentle control of yolk and white. Programmed precisely to consistently keep the yolk undamaged and centrally presented as this was critical to ensure that there was no separation between the yolk and the white and that both elements remained in place when cooked.
Further attention was paid to waste removal as the handling of egg residue proved to be one of the key challenges of the project. This led to a bespoke vacuum system being developed using 3D printing technology to allow the process to provide reliability and high volume throughput operating in the most demanding conditions.
Learning from experience of the real time production trials, the new machine SEL had designed and manufactured proved to be faster and more precisely controlled using rotary and linear servo drives. Product feed was improved amongst other factors such as ease of set up, adjustment and monitoring using PLC and HMI functionality.
Sapcote Engineering are currently working with the supplier to support the future needs of their business as production volume increases.