How It’s Made: Pre-Packaged Sandwiches

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In today’s hustle and bustle world, it’s not uncommon to forgo brown bagging it and instead grab a meal on the go.

it’s not surprising to see that food retailers from mega supermarkets to tiny convenience stores carry pre-packaged sandwiches for the hungry in a hurried customer


ham and cheese,

cheese and tomato, 

chicken salad,

just a few of the many sandwich varieties you can buy

ready-made retail customers specify which ingredients they want in their sandwich order and the factory sets up the assembly lines accordingly 

the first step is to load fresh bread into an automated machine

while doing so they visually inspect the slices and remove any with holes or other flaws

the machine separates the pieces in the loaf then because this sandwich requires it an internal roller spreads melted butter.

the machine then drops the buttered slices face up onto the belt that moves through the production line where first automated depositor squirts on the quantity and type of mayonnaise the customer requested.

workers manually lay on the more specific ingredients such as cold cuts or grated cheddar cheese in the prep, area. 

workers load logs of ham into a slicer

the customer has specified the size and weight of the slices it wants in the sandwich and the factory programs the slicer accordingly

the slices go off to the assembly line where workers add them to the sandwiches

next, they close up the sandwiches 

they stack the sandwiches in piles of two

the belt then brings the sandwiches to a mechanized cutter

the cutter works like a reciprocating saw

the vertical blade oscillating at high speed as the sandwich travels through it

the stacked halves on each side will be packaged together as one sandwich

some of the sandwich varieties produced in largest quantities are made on a fully automated assembly line

a robot suctions up bread slices and places them on a moving belt

positioning plates descend and adjust the slices so that they’ll be perfectly centered under the nozzles which dispense the sandwich ingredients

the production here egg salad sandwiches, a nozzle deposits a set quantity of chopped egg with mayonnaise on every second slice

at the next station, robotic arms lined with suction cups grab the empty pieces and flip them over onto the filled slices

next stop an ultrasonic knife slices the sandwiches in two using vibrations produced by high-frequency sound waves

this cutting method gives a cleaner edge

next robotic arms pick up half of each sandwich spin it around and stack it onto the other half

a robot grabs four finished sandwiches at a time and puts them in triangular plastic trays which then move on to the ceiling and labeling stations

back on the semi-automated assembly line

workers stack the sandwiches manually and place them in individual plastic line cardboard packages

a conveyor belt brings them to a machine that pushes down the top flap and heat seals it shut

the sandwiches hit store shelves within 12 hours of production

they stay fresh for an additional three days after which the sandwich company removes the unsold ones while making its daily delivery of new ones to you


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