Innovation at its best

Innovation is at the core of Wymbs Engineering Ltd – a process partner of choice to many of the world’s biggest household confectionery and snack brands. It’s cream processing lines are just one example of how the company is transforming production for its customers.

The driving factor for Wymbs is to offer machines that do not just perform a set function, but rather solves the customers problems. Wymbs knows the challenges that a modern food producer faces with constantly changing demand from their customers. The company puts itself in the producer’s shoes, asking: “will this machine benefit my sales and flexibility?” “will it pay me back?” “will it help me grow?

In the world of large-batch and mass production, the creation of similarly appealing artisan-like products relies heavily on a machine’s design, its operation and the automation behind it.

With this in mind, Wymbs Engineering recently undertook a demanding project for a customer that wanted a fresh cream processing line. But there were certain instructions; the client wanted to replace its current labour-intensive process. The machine also had to be capable of producing two main products – apple turnovers and scones – both which would come in different varieties. As a result, these had to be easily changed and managed by the machine’s recipe functions.

“At the time, they were producing these products by hand, so the reduction in labour with increased throughput were the primary targets. But other considerations they required included uniformity of product and reduced waste,” explains Kevin Wymbs, Director.

In addition to its advanced depositor technology, which employs 17 Allen-Bradley® Kinetix servo axes to control the motion of the depositors, conveyors and transfer units, Wymbs also had to develop a unique transfer unit to cater for the foibles of the delicate products in the line. This was required take plastic skillets from a denester and pick and place the made products from the end of the line into the skillets and then onto an onward processing conveyor for packaging.

“We couldn’t use robots with grippers,” Wymbs explains, “so we had to develop a brand-new solution that picks the products up from their base. It’s a bit like a magic carpet trick, all of which is controlled using Allen-Bradley architecture. We’ve not seen the design anywhere else, so we’ve not copied it, but we have enabled it using Allen-Bradley control products”.

This new Scone and Apple Turnover Processing line, as a result, delivers 25 cycles per minutes, which equates to 9,000 products an hour from a baked shell through to packaging which offers the customer far more flexible for product variations and changeover during a shift.

Here are just a few of the key functions of this new, innovative line:

  • Horizontal cut of both scones and turnover
  • Place ‘lid’ on conveyor behind base
  • Align base for depositing
  • Apple puree or jam deposit
  • Cream swirl or multi-spot deposit
  • Three depositing stations for different configurations
  • Transfer unit in conjunction with an Acetate De-nester
  • Made products are automatically transferred into acetates and downstream conveyor.

“Being an SME company, we are nimble enough to adapt our designs to suit the project,” Kevin adds, “and the control logic is an integral part of that flexibility. We are also able to add functionality to the control solution on site, for changes in recipe structures to suit the customer or, in one case, to add data logging for shift targets.”

Cream finger doughnuts

The extent of Wymbs Engineering’s innovative ideas doesn’t stop there. Its cream finger doughnut processing line is just as efficient – capable of producing 10,500 in an hour.

Its functions are similar to its scone and apple turnover line. It’s capable of vertical cuts through the product and has three depositing stations for different configurations. This is in addition to the following:

  • ‘plough’ open the doughnut cut
  • Align base for depositing
  • Jam deposit in base of cut
  • Long Cream swirl inside cut
  • Jam stripe on top of cream
  • Dual deposit manifold to cream cream/custard swirl
  • Transfer unit in conjunction with an Acetate De-nester
  • Made products are automatically transferred into acetates and downstream conveyor.

Wymbs’ innovation continues…

Wymbs’ unique range of manifolds also showcase its innovative ways. Its manifolds are designed for direct connection to a continuous aeration system or to a metering system (where, in the case of aerated masses the benefits will be quickly realised – no hoppers, no deterioration of cell structure, better temperature control, “less mess” and easier cleaning regimes being easier attained.

Its sheeting and extruding manifolds are designed for retrofit to baking, secondary processing and wafer lines that handle sponge batters, dairy and non-dairy creams, jams and jellies, fondants and icings. Its manifolds can also be manufactured to create a single sheet or multiple lanes or ropes.

Wymbs’ manifold drive systems can also provide up to four axes of motion, including “piston lift” when complimented with volumetric manifolds. Depositing onto a biscuit, into a chocolate mould, directly onto a travelling steel oven band, starch or sugared process conveyor or into a baking tray, depositing onto a cake or injecting into choux buns and fingers are a few application examples.

Finally, its processing lines for the ambient and chilled products industry are designed to receive baked and conditioned “cakes and patisseries”, adding value by means of multiple depositing and decorating stations integrally built along one processing line. Injecting fresh dairy cream into an éclair finger followed by a ribbon deposit of fondant icing, depositing a rope of jam into cut finger doughnuts followed by a “swirl” deposit of aerated fresh dairy cream are examples of what can be achieved along these processing lines. 

Founded 30 years ago, Wymbs Engineering started out as a small fabrication workshop, servicing and upgrading worn out machinery in bakery and confectionery industry. From this, Wymbs has grown and now plays a leading role as manufacturers of a unique range of pressurised manifold depositing systems for light, aerated and delicate masses – not to forget bespoke processing lines for the chilled foods sector such as cream doughnut and chocolate éclair lines and injection systems for choux buns and cream slice lines.

Using the most modern of Solid Works AutoCAD software in the design office and employing several multi-axis CNC machines for production, the ability to design and manufacture “in-house” is the key to continued development of its manifolds and depositing machines.

With a healthy market established at home, Wymbs exports 70% of its turnover to as far afield as China, Brazil, Australia, USA, Japan, South Africa, Mexico and throughout Western and Central Europe.