Have you ever wondered how that sandwich you brought from the shop for your lunch came to be? I’m going to guess not. Why would you? There are far more important things going on life like who’s going to win Masterchef or mentally preparing yourself for just how badly England are going to do in Brazil this summer (at least make it past the group stages guys!)
Put all those pressing issues to one side though for a moment and ask yourself who made that lunch you’re tucking into? And how exactly did they do it? Don’t know do you? Don’t worry, I’m sure most people don’t, which is why I am going to explain all…
If you were to find yourself on a sandwich factory floor, this is what you’d see: rows of production lines made up of numerous Millitec machines, and sea of people covered in white overalls and hairnets.
It is this combination of people and machines that created that humble cheese and pickle you picked up earlier. The factory process uses the same basic principles we do when making sandwiches at home, but on a much larger scale and with their equipment taking it to a whole new level. I mean, an ultrasonic cutter looks like a Ferrari compared to the Reliant Robin that is your blunt bread knife!
The best place to start is with the bread (obviously). Locally sourced sliced bread is placed onto our sandwich production conveyors joins and makes it way towards the collator butterers. These clever machines spread a thin layer of butter perfectly onto the bread in seconds – there is no sign here of the hard butter vs soft bread struggle that we must all endure in our own kitchens. These beauties are able to churn and heat the butter meaning it is always at the perfect spreading consistency.
On to another conveyor the bread travels, now prepped for the fillings to be added by those hair netted people I mentioned earlier. Cheese, lettuce, chicken, tomato, bacon etc. is taken from the containers positioned above and along the conveyor for quick and easy access, and placed onto the bread as it moves past. Further down, it is the job of someone else to evenly distribute the fillings so that when you later bite into your sandwich, you get a taste of everything. Finally the top slice of bread is added, the sandwiches are double stacked and they are ready for cutting.
The ultrasonic sandwich cutter is a thing of beauty; a highly equipped piece of machinery that cuts sandwiches into magnificent triangles in seconds with minimal distortion to the fillings. Sensors detect the sandwich, aligners gently squeeze it into the correct position and a titanium blade vibrating at 20Khz a second does the rest.
The triangles exit onto another conveyor, this time called the cutter exit conveyor – three guess as to how the name came about! Sandwiches can be checked before heading off to be packed into boxes.
Before you know, that sandwich is popping up in your local shop, just waiting for you to pick it up and chow down.