The Seven Chefs division of Nichimo International Inc., Bellevue, Wash., has developed its ECM-200 slicer with an exit conveyor, according to Gary Rogers, sales manager.

The conveyor allows products to be sliced while maintaining the original shape of the product, which reduces mess and increases control of the slice thickness and cut quality.

According to company, the slicer reduces product movement, which reduces breakage and helps the machine achieve a more even cut size.

This provides a cut product that is close to cutting the product by hand.

“A lot of squash and other vegetables are hand-cut, so this reduces labor costs and time considerably,” Rogers said.

The machine’s exit conveyor belt allows the product to exit the machine with no drop to a bin or other container. This reduces fragmentation and breakage, making it ideal for items that are more brittle or need more precise cutting.

“I don’t know of any other machine that does this,” Rogers said.

This machine will enable smaller processors to work with small, brittle items, such as peppers, that sometimes break, as well as other delicate items,” Rogers said.

Plus, the neat slices allow processors to make fancy fresh-cut platters or trays with fewer workers.

“The machine can take a squash or cucumber or pineapple and cut it. It will stay in the same shape so they can make a fancier design, almost entirely by machine,” Rogers said.

Cuts manpower

Only two people are needed: one to load the machine and one to remove sliced product from the conveyor belt and place it on the platter.

“That’s two people running a machine instead of five or six. Then they can take those people and put them into other areas in the company,” Rogers said.

The ECM-200 slicer also has a touch-screen display panel that allows operators to select detailed cutting settings.

The machine can be disassembled for cleaning in less than three minutes without the using tools, Rogers said.

This makes keeping the machine clean and safe easier and faster.

Earlier machines used a disk blade to slice larger items, but the ECM-200 allows users to simply adjust the size and continue running produce through with virtually no changeover time between different cut sizes, Rogers said.

Durable blades

Another feature of the slicing machine is the blade durability. Each blade should last for six months at a time and can be sharpened up to three times.

“That is about 1½ years from a set of blades,” Gary said.

Blade thicknesses range for the triple blade from 1/64 inch to 1 11/32 inches, and 5/64 inch to 4 inches for the single blade.

The company plans to introduce the ECM-200 at the United Fresh trade show May 1-3 in Dallas.

The ECM-200T, a new machine that can function as a slicer and dicer, will also be introduced at United Fresh.