Ultrasonic cutters

Another problem all us lovers of sandwiches face. You’ve lovingly made the best sandwich ever seen in your entire lives. The ham to cheese ratio is spot on. The lettuce is crisp, the tomatoes juicy. All that’s left to do now is to cut it in half – triangles or rectangles, the debate wages on-  so that  it can be devoured.

Ham and cheese

 

You grab the bread knife, start cutting and…Oh….ok harder than you thought…is this knife blunt?  Just have to use more force here…Oh god, the bread is too soft, it’s ripping apart! The ham is coming out! This is a disaster!

Before your eyes, that thing of beauty you just created now looks like the lone survivor of a bomb attack. You eat it anyway, but it’s just not as satisfying as it should have been. It’s acceptable to tear up slightly in such a situation, right?

Up and down the country, we the British consumers are expecting to be able to grab a perfectly cut, deliciously looking sandwich when we’re out and about. Sandwiches that fall apart during the cutting process is simply not a problem the sandwich producers can afford when they’re making thousands a day.

Jamie Oliver Sandwich from BootsWhat would Jamie say if his sandwiches were falling apart as they were on the production line? Not, “pukka” that’s for sure.

 

 How do they stop it from happening?

 

Great Question! They use an out of this world ultrasonic cutters of course!

 

What the hell does that mean?

 

Honestly…

 

Titanium blades are hooked up to a generator and transducer. When powered up, the ultrasonic cutter blade vibrate at around 20Khz a second. That is so fast you can’t even see it with the naked eye. They make a gentle humming noise and when you touch them (obviously not the sharp end unless you wanna lose a finger!), they feel like flowing water.

It was only recently that I saw an ultrasonic cutter in action. Before then I thought that the blade moved up and down and cut the sandwich as it passed underneath but that isn’t actually what happens. The blade is stationary and the sandwich comes to it. When the sandwich makes contact with the blade, it cuts even the softest bread with ease, not leaving a single crumb and keeps all fillings intact.

Trust me on this one guys, it’s pretty impressive to see.

But hold up, how does it always cut the sandwich in the right spot?

You’re on fire with the questions! Whilst there is often a person hired to ensure the bread is in the right position on the cutter (dullest job ever I’m sure), top of the line machines come with some nifty add-ons called High Speed Aligners. These things are very clever. They detect the bread as it approaches the blade and use their special fingers to delicately position the sandwich into the perfect spot. If the top slice of bread wasn’t sitting perfectly, it will be now, all with out disturbing the toppings and at lightening speed.

So how many sandwiches can it cut?

At full speed, machines can cut up to 60 single stacked sandwiches a minute. That’s 3,600 an hour and on an average 12 hour shift, that is up to 43,200. Bit overwhelming isn’t it. Quality machines also come with the option of belt adjustment. Doesn’t sound all that important I know but it actually means that sandwiches can be stacked on top of each other. Two sandwiches being cut at once guys! Whilst the machine does have to go slower for a double stack, that’s still an impressive amount of sandwiches being churned out each day.

 What about a different shaped cut?

Believe it or not, there are trends in sandwich cuts. Lately, “posher” sandwiches like a Tesco’s Finest smoked salmon comes horizontally cut (i.e. rectangles). I’m not too sure why this is deemed better than triangular, that debate is still waging on, but Tesco apparently think it is. I’m still making up my mind. Cutting sandwiches this way isn’t all that hard. All you do is position the bread at a different angle, the ultrasonic cutter slices through it and two perfect rectangles exit are produced.

 

You may also have noticed that store bought party platters are becoming increasingly popular. Nowadays, we simply don’t have the time to put together a spread so impressive that even stuck up Linda would be impressed by, along with everything else the perfect hostess has to arrange. Instead we can pop down to M&S or Sainsbury’s and get some delightful triangle sandwiches before you can say “take that Linda.”deluxesandwichplatter_lrg

I’m sure you’re probably thinking that it takes two machines  to cut one sandwich into four little triangles, one for each diagonal cut. Well, you’re wrong. SO wrong. It’s called a quartering cutter you fool!

Quartering cutters are the latest in ultrasonic cutting, and any automated production line worth talking about includes one of these bad boys.

As with a regular ultrasonic cutter, the first diagonal cut is made by a stationary blade. Next, the bread passes through a second set of High Speed Aligners, making sure everything is in the correct position, before a second moving blade travels with, and cuts the sandwich as it moves down the conveyor. The end result is four perfect triangular sandwiches.

Quartering cutters do not operate as fast as regular ultrasonic cutters, averaging about 36 sandwiches a minute, you can’t rush perfection!

Happy Easter everybody!

Along with the big Christmas days out like Boxing Day and New Years Day, the Easter weekend is one of the busiest times in the sandwich production industry. Everyone is out , everyone is shopping and everyone needs something to eat. The cafes and restaurants are jammed and anyway, you don’t have time to sit down and eat a big meal. So what do you do? Grab a sandwich of course and eat it on the go of course. Jamie Oliver Sandwich from Boots

The British public love their sandwiches, after all, we invented them! Keeping up with the extra demand over the holidays is hard work for the sandwich factories. If that ultrasonic cutter isn’t working, the whole production schedule could go up in flames. Having reliable sandwich machinery is essential.  

 

I’m sure most people consider themselves an expert in what the best sandwich in the world is, but how much do you know about Easter food?

Bread buttering machine

 

 

You know when you’re buttering bread, and the butter is too hard and the bread is too soft so it doesn’t spread right and it’s staying in lumps, and no matter how hard you try to get an even coverage, you only end up with holey, broken up bread? SO annoying isn’t it.

Badly buttered bread

This is not the kind of problem you want to be having when you are making hundreds of sandwiches a day.

Ain't nobody got time for that buttering machine Am I right?

 

Thankfully, clever people came up with a brilliant machine that solves this issue and saves a hell of a lot of time.

I am of course talking about a Buttering machine!

 

Sandwich buttering machines can be standalone -This means that there is no collator (conveyor) attached to it. The bread is fed on to the machine from one conveyor, is buttered and immediately exits straight off onto another. The machine is controlled by simple start/stop buttons.

Alternatively, they can be attached to a collator – This means there is a small conveyor with a butterer attached to it at the end. The benefit of this is that plenty of bread can be loaded on to the conveyor and as one piece moves off, another is added. It gives more control over the production process than a standalone butterer, with some being controlled by special programmes and touch screen technology.

Even more exciting though is that you can get twin lane buttering machines – that equals two pieces of bread buttered AT THE SAME TIME! You can also programme them to butterer alternate slices of bread so that butter is only on the bottom slice!

That does sound cool, how do they work?

 I like your enthusiasm.

So, here we go.

To put it simply, a special type of butter, one that’s been whipped and aerated, is put into the top of the machine, called the butter box. Special gears churn it up to keep it soft. Some UK sandwich machinery manufacturers even make butter boxes that are heated! Good bye lumpy butter! When a piece of bread is detected passing under the butter box, a scraper (acting as the knife we’d use at home) deposits the perfect amount of butter onto the slice of bread. The bread then moves off for the filling to be added, have another slice of bread placed on top, cut, shoved into a box and shipped off to your nearest store.

If only we could all have a butter spreading machine in our own lives. Our sandwiches would never be the same again.

 

Buttered bread

Perfection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEO update

So, it has been one week today that I officially launched my SEO experiment and I am checking in with a progress report.

After one week, this website is *drumroll*

On the second page of Google!SEO result - page 2 of google

A quick Google search for “sandwich machinery” and there you will find me.

Exciting isn’t it.

But how did you do it?

I thought you’d never ask….

 

Now, as I said it has only been one week and as this is a side project, I have other tasks that need prioritising so this hasn’t necessarily got the full attention it needs.

I did my research, reading blogs such as Beginners guide to SEO, MOZ and Answers to 18 SEO questions you were too afraid to ask.

I’ve started simple – Keyword Optimisation. A keyword of course being the words entered into the search engine. If you’re site contains the keywords people are searching for, it’s more likely to appear in the search results.

My go to site for this has been the Google Keywords Planner, which is a part of their Adwords programme. You can check it out here. To us this you will need a Google account but they’re free and don’t take long to set up

Keywords planner is a really great, simple to use tool. You start by putting in your product or service. For me, this was “sandwich machinery”. For someone who makes their own jam it could be “homemade jam”, etc.

I was then presented with groups of keywords that people searched for related to sandwich machinery. Click on each group and you’ll see next to each keyword the average number of times each word is searched for a month. This allows you to see which words are the most important.

I then wrote a list of all the different keywords I thought were most relevant. I changed my initial keyword search to various types of sandwich machines such as a butterer or cutter to ensure I had covered as many bases as possible.

The hardest part of Keyword Optimisation is creating pages and posts on your site that are full of keywords but at the same time are actually readable and interesting for your target audience. You need the right balance.

This is very important. If you create a post with overloaded with keywords, Google will see it and assume that it is spam. This is very damaging. Spam websites are black marked by the search engines and banished to the depths of the search results.

My approach was to first write a post, the one going live tomorrow is about buttering machines, and then go back and see where I can add extra keywords. This way, I know that the content is readable, interesting and helpful and at the same time, findable.

 

Next I think I am going to focus on link building – getting links to your site from other places. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Let’s get quizzical

Who doesn’t love a quiz? Don’t all rush to answer at once now

Sandwich machinery – an overview

Ok guys, this is a nice gentle introduction into the world of sandwich machinery before we start focusing in detail on a different machine each week.

The aim of all this is to inform the wider public on the various types of sandwich machines that are available here in the UK. Why? Well why not?

Seriously though, why?

Well have you not ever wondered how that sandwich you buy in Tesco or boots for lunch is made? Or the difference between Sainsbury’s own and that fancy new Jamie Oliver one?

Not really, no.

Well tough, I’m telling you anyway.

First an answer to a question I’m sure you’re all asking, isn’t my sandwich made by hand? Er NO!

From start to finish your humble sandwich passes through a long line of sandwich machinery which includes bread butterers, cutters, depositors, tomato slicers, crushers and more. Together, these machines make up an automated sandwich assembly line.

Mind blown? I thought so.

The reason for all these different machines is to ensure a level of consistency that you, the buyer, expects every time you buy a sandwich from a shop. It also cuts costs, saves time and means less people need to be hired to make sure that slice of bread is facing the right way as it travels down the production line. The wonders of automated machinery!

There are a number of companies that manufacture sandwich machinery here in the UK. You may be aware that I actually work for one. Not that I’ll be name dropping, that isn’t what this is about.

These UK manufactures need a lot of support from the sandwich producers with the markets here currently being saturated with American rivals and their inferior designs.

 

Like I said, over the next few weeks I will be going into a bit more detail about the various machines and how they are used in the sandwich production industry and hopefully showing British manufactures are at the cutting edge of innovation in this field. Get ready for a thrilling ride.

 

An SEO experiment

 

I have been set a challenge. I work for a UK sandwich machine manufacturing company and there is a fear that our actual marketing team may not be all that skilled in the SEO department as, at this moment, we do not appear in Google and this is worrying the big boss man!

So where do I come in? Well I have been given this web address and a time scale to see how far I can push this site up the search engine ranks.

Currently, it does not exist. Where will I be in a few months time? That’s what we’re going to find out together.

Like I said, I work for a UK based sandwich machine manufacturing company and so this blog is going to be about sandwich machines, with some SEO learning thrown in too! No doubt most will be bored out of their brains by such a topic, as was I before I started this job but actually, it can be kind of interesting to find out how that sandwich you buy from Tesco for lunch is actually made.

Stick with me guys. It’s going to be great!