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When it comes to the business of preparing whole-muscle hams for sale, one of the biggest challenges is handling the netting stage of the process. For systems such as JBT TIPPER TIE’s TN2004, fixed diameter netting can be extremely difficult to manage, which is where the new TIPPER TIE RFDW2 comes in.

A step-up from the previous RFDW1 (Rucker Fixed Diameter Wheels), the RFDW2 is designed to support the TN2004 by rucking netting onto a chute, meaning each spiral-sliced ham is ready for sale as soon as it passes through the process.  

As Conrad Faust, Director of Product Management at TIPPER TIE, explains, fixed-diameter nets are designed to maximize slicing yields and give customers the teardrop-shaped ham that many look to achieve. However, at the same time, the inflexibility of the netting means it is extremely difficult to put onto a chute. 

The RFDW2 makes use of a solution in the form of three powerful motors driving three wheels to advance the netting, as well as a carriage which moves vertically to pack the netting tightly, maximizing the amount of netting on the chute, while being gentle enough to not damage the netting. 

Robust improvements

But where does the RDFW2 differ from the RDFW1? According to Faust, a number of important changes have been made to the new version of the Rucker, making it safer, more robust, and more sanitary all while fitting into a smaller footprint. Firstly, the RDFW2 features updated touch screen controls and diagnostics that give customers greater precision over the program’s netting packing strategy and achieve more netting for longer chute run times.  

“The new RFDW2 has a built-in failsafe, which keeps the (rucker) carriage in place if a sprocket fails.”

But a bigger change is the addition of a ball screw drive. Replacing the old chain drive, the ball screw drives the carriage up and down, is easier to maintain with remote grease points and low maintenance with no chain tension to maintain, and crucially, removes the risk of a chain or sprocket failing associated with the previous version. “The risk with the chain drive is if a chain broke, the whole carriage could drop straight down,” explains Faust. “The RFDW2 has a built-in failsafe, which will keep the carriage in place or allow it to move very slowly down.

“This is a pretty elegant solution,” he continues. “All of our Ruckers are designed to overcome specific issues when putting netting onto a chute. In this case, the inflexibility of fixed-diameter nets and stocking nets become even more difficult if a release agent, color, or flavor coating is added to the netting. The RFDW2 was designed to accommodate all of those challenges.”