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Pick And Place For A Better Product

Thu, 01/14/2010 - 10:31am
Since deploying the improved Pick and Place system, the pastry dough does not have to be frozen prior to packaging.

Mazor’s Bakery of Brooklyn, New York knew it could produce a better product if it could revise its production line. Success hinged on being able to deploy a pick and place technology that didn’t require the product to be frozen prior to packaging. Utilizing Vaccon’s innovative custom design and engineering capabilities and modular End-of-Arm Tooling components, the design team was able to integrate vacuum pumps, spring levelers, fittings, and manifolds to develop a custom Pick and Place technology that exceeded expectations.

Mazor’s Bakery is a small family owned bakery in Brooklyn, New York. The company specializes in puff pastry dough, precooked tart shells, and precooked frozen pizza dough. Founded in 1978, the company currently employs 20 employees and ships product throughout the US and Central America.

Mazor’s Bakery pastry dough is distributed in the U.S. and Panama for producing a variety of products.

When Mazor’s Bakery came to Vaccon, their goal was to move the freezing process from the front of the production line to the end of the production line, which meant picking and placing “raw” flaky puff pastry covered in flour—physically a very different product compared to frozen dough. Mazor’s management knew the solution they sought would impact their entire puff pastry production and packaging line. In the existing pick and place system there were two stainless steel structures that held the original venturi pump and cups. These heads were powered with a cylinder in the Z direction to pick up the pastry. In addition, a second cylinder provided a lateral movement to increase the centerline distance of the two heads for placing the pastry into separate stacks. The pastry sheets are used in a variety of shapes and patterns—one pattern has four sections cut from the sheet and the other pattern has two larger sections. The outside dimensions of these two sheets are not the same. To save money and time, Vaccon retrofitted the existing vacuum head to fit within the existing vacuum head geometrics.

The result was a flexible system that has a removable metal gate acting as an air dam to prevent leakage. The result: Handling different shapes of pastry requires a total vacuum head change over time of only 10 seconds.

Freezer prior to packaging.

Pick and Place for stacking the raw dough. The Vaccon pumps and custom designed pick and place head. This unique design allows the handling of raw pastry dough in different sizes. With instant on/off control, energy is saved by creating vacuum only when needed.

A separate system places a paper sheet between each layer of dough. Once a stack is complete it is placed into its plastic bag and sealed. The completed package is then flash frozen. By freezing the final product in its packaging Mazor’s Bakery is better able to preserve flavor.

Prior to modification, the Mazor’s Bakery packaging system included adjustable cutters placed just above the conveyor, cutting the dough to a specific size. After it passed under the cutters, the pastry then traveled on the conveyor through an instant freezer compartment (10 feet in length). It then traveled another 5 feet outside the freezer compartment to the pick and place head, where the frozen dough was placed onto sheets of paper (stacked 5 high). It was then pushed onto another conveyer where it traveled to final packaging.

The pick and place system designed by Vaccon is able to accommodate different size pastry products through the use of air dams. Handling different shapes of pastry requires only 10 seconds for changeover.

Mazor’s new packaging system has the freezer compartment placed above the packaging process to enable the freezing of the pastry after it has been packaged. Elevating the freezer results in a better use of available vertical space reducing the

The biggest challenge for the pick and place system was to avoid clogging of vacuum pumps with flour and raw dough. Vaccon Company venturi pumps feature an “in line” design that avoids this problem.

overall footprint of the packaging line while enabling one production worker to operate in a cell environment operating both mixer and monitoring the packaging operation.

 

The pick and place strategy was to design one special vacuum cup in conjunction with a standard vacuum pump that would pick and place both sizes of dough with minimal change over time using the current fixturing that was in place. Due to the bakery environment (flour everywhere and covering the product), clogging of the cup and vacuum pump were major considerations in the design. The puff pastry is extremely droopy and requires a “soft touch” to avoid imprinting the cup pattern on its surface, and high flow to facilitate lifting the pastry off the conveyor rather than having to make contact prior to lifting it.

The Vaccon pumps selected for this application feature unique Vaccon innovations that place the vacuum port and exhaust path inline making a straight-through venturi vacuum pump. Developed for extremely challenging environments or applications featuring a lot of “loose” airborne matter such as flour, sugar, or powders, Vaccon pumps have a reputation for not clogging, losing suction, or requiring a vacuum filter.

The CDF 500-EPT100-ST16FC Adjustable Air Amplifier/Blower.

Prototyping/Testing/Final Production

A small version of the special vacuum cup was machined and tested with a standard vacuum pump on a single piece of production dough (not frozen) with great success. Vaccon then manufactured custom vacuum “cups” and retested with both sizes of dough with the same success. Mazor’s Bakery removed the fixturing and sent it to Vaccon where it was modified and

By reconfiguring the production line so the final product was frozen after being packaged, Mazor’s was able to increase product quality and save space.

re-assembled with spring levelers, the new vacuum cups, and required hardware (vacuum pumps were attached to the main housing and plumbed to cups).

 

Summary

The end result of the Vaccon custom design effort was a faster, more flexible pick and place machine and a better product for Mazor’s Bakery. “We were brought in to focus on the bakery’s existing Pick and Place machine,” says Brian Ferri, President, Vaccon Company, Inc. “If we were successful, the puff pastry product could be frozen at the time of packaging, ensuring a better, more flavorful product.” Not only did Mazor’s get the machine upgrade and production line reconfiguration they were hoping for they also got a tremendous value in only needing to upgrade the head on their pick and place machine and not the machine itself.

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