The marshmallows are made to customer specification with a choice of photos, graphics and messages on them for mail order delivery.
The automated system installed by systems integrator Newtech makes use of an ABB six-axis robot with integrated intelligent vision software and an ultrasonic blade to cut cakes.
By applying a mechanically polytetrafluoroethylene-coated blade to an IRB 1200 robot, Newtech was able to come up with a solution to the problem of cutting through sticky marshmallow.
Solution to the problem
The blade passes through an oil reservoir before the cut is made in order to ensure a suitable surface for cutting.
Once the marshmallow is portioned, the blade passes through a cleaning tank before repeating the process.
“We make sure we have a precise square [cut], not just something that’s almost a square, and we have very sharp angles and edges so that we have a good printing substrate,” said James Middleton, who co-founded Boomf with Andy Bell in 2013.
Need to be cleaned
When the process was done manually, Boomf employed 10 people to cut the trays of marshmallow into 40mm by 40mm squares. After every five or six cuts, the blade would need to be cleaned.
In total, this took five minutes and because of mis-cuts, there was also a lot of wasted product. Now the process has been automated, it takes just 17 seconds.
“There’s next to no wastage now and that’s been a real benefit to the figures,” claimed Middleton.
Improving the process has also enabled Boomf to focus on other areas of the business, such as expanding delivery to more countries and looking at how other processes, such as the boxing of marshmallows, could be automated.