The sight of a tasty sausage hanging in the window of a butcher’s shop is enough to make many a Continental European’s mouth water. Now, advanced one-way clutch technology from Stieber, part of the Altra Industrial Motion Group, is helping sausage makers to produce a wider range of tasty products more reliably and more easily than ever before.
Unlike British sausages, which are normally uncured, quite small and produced in long strings, continental sausage makers prefer a longer, fatter product, packaged and sold individually with an aluminium clip at either end and a string loop. This neat assembly allows the sausage to be stored and displayed easily. Poly-clip of Germany is the market leader in the design and manufacture of these clips – used in wide range of different food products – and the machines for their installation. The company’s machines are fitted at the end of the food production line and are used to seal its ends with the clip and hanging loop combination.
To fill the huge demand for this product, sausage-making machines must operate quickly and extremely reliably. Naturally, they must also comply with demanding hygiene standards. As the market for specialist sausage types continues to grow, the machines must also be easily reconfi gurable to allow the production of many different sizes and shapes of product, with quick changeovers between batches.
For its latest FCA 160 and FCA 120 double-clipping machines, Poly-clip was looking for a mechanism to feed clips and loops of different sizes into the machine. After considering an electronically controlled approach, but rejecting it due to concerns over cost and reliability, the company approached Stieber to see if the clutch specialist could offer a mechanical solution.
Stieber was able to deliver with a special all stainless steel version of its proven GFR series roller ramp one way clutch. Suitable for wash-down cleaning, the Stieber clutch can also deliver a long life at production rates of up to 300 cycles per minute, all within Poly-clip’s demanding cost constraints. In the machine the clutch is linked to a pneumatic cylinder using a special torque arm, also designed by Stieber. A barrel holding a stock of clips is driven by the clutch and advanced one step by the cylinder in each machine cycle. The mechanism can be quickly reconfi gured for different product sizes; essential as the FCA 160, for example, can produce sausages ranging from 38 to 160mm in diameter with three different clip sizes.