Case Study


Pie Shell Production Equipment

The Challenge – Equipment Engineering

Client: Custom Equipment Manufacturer
Objective: Improve an existing mechanically driven pie shell spinning machine

The owner of a company that sells custom bakery equipment needed to improve an existing mechanically driven pie shell spinning machine. The marketplace required faster output and changeovers for the different pie shell sizes, shapes, and types of crumbs being produced. The solution also had to accommodate 2, 3, and 4-head tooling versions. Although some elements of the existing tooling could be used, a complete redesign was needed to accommodate the new bakery line requirements. 

pie manufacturing

Our Solution

Sterling Engineering worked with the client’s machine builders to determine how the machine tooling would interact with the bakery production line and be affected during changeovers. 

Kinematic calculations were performed to construct timing diagrams and determine the accelerations required for the different motion profiles. SolidWorks was used to design the machine to determine accurate assembly weights. The assembly weights and accelerations were then used to size the servo motors, ball screws, and transmission components. Sterling developed the concepts into a final hard-line design and a complete engineering documentation package. Sterling provided the client with fabrication, assembly, validation, and installation support.  

The Results

Sterling designed a 4-head, 2-axis servo drive to independently control the motions required to synchronize the spinner head tooling with the bakery production line. The 4-head assembly carriage weighs ~ 1800 lbs and can accelerate from zero velocity up to line speed, spin a pie, and decelerate to zero velocity, all within 36 inches of horizontal conveyor travel. It then accelerates back up steam, stops, and repeats the cycle for the following 4 pies. The machine can produce 140 pie shells per minute, and changeovers can be done in 1 hour. The machine can be directly integrated into new and old installations. The design incorporated bakery GMP and safety guidelines

Project Duration

17 Weeks

Project Size

Design $28K
Machine $300K

Project Team

5 Engineers

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