April 29, 2015

Produce processing equipment wins awards

IMG_6652Every three years the German Agricultural Society announces the winners of the International FoodTec Awards. This year 18 companies were awarded gold and silver for innovative systems and processes in both the international food production and supplier industries. Award winners include companies from the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Austria and Germany. Five innovations, in particular, relate directly to produce processing.

Gold award winners

 Krones AG: De-aeration of fruit juices

To earn its award, Krones developed an innovative solution called VarioSpin to some of the problems presented when bottling fruit juices. Without proper de-aeration, several problems can occur, including oxidative reactions and floating fruit particles. During the process, it is important to keep the surface area as large and turbulent as possible, and to keep layers as thin as possible. This helps to keep the diffusion paths for gas bubbles short. To limit the amount of foam produced during this process, however, juices need to be subjected to the least amount of mechanical stress possible.

Currently, many companies use annual, spray and tangential nozzles, but they do have drawbacks. Krones’ “swirl in-feed” addresses some of those drawbacks as it is designed to gently apply product to the wall of the de-aeration tank, starting at the specially constructed container lid. Using the surface of the container (and the lid) reduces the volume of the container by more than one-third, which saves both space and energy since the vacuum pumps can be smaller. The turbulent product film is said to allow for a high rate of gas exchange, which achieves low residual oxygen levels – even at higher viscosities.

“We at Krones are very proud of receiving the International FoodTec Award in gold as it shows the appreciation of our new development,” said Danuta Kessler-Zieroth, head of press relations. “With VarioSpin pressure de-aerator neither the color nor the taste and product quality of beverages is affected during gas removal. In addition, our customers are able to reduce operating costs and product loss. With VarioSpin, we meet our customers’ demands and generate more added value for the beverage consumer.”

Perfo Tec BV: Respiration control system

 As most produce processors well know, fresh fruit and vegetables continue to breathe after packaging. The process uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide and water vapor, all of which is heavily influenced by outside factors, like temperature. Earning it its gold award, Perfo Tec has designed a respiration control system that includes four steps: the measurement of breathing ability, calculation of film permeability using the AMAP software, laser perforation of packaging film and quality control via an integrated camera that monitors perforation. The end result is a product with increased shelf life.

IMG_6638Sealpac EasyLid

A number of challenges are presented with foods that are packaged using a fully automated system. The product must be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer and easy to handle. It should also have a long shelf life and adhere to food safety standards. Sealpacs’s EasyLid is designed to do just that. Suitable for containers with both hot and cold fillings, the new packaging system combines lidding and sealing in one easy step, effectively reducing packaging, labor and equipment costs. EasyLid is ideal for a range of products, from meatballs to salads and deli foods to confectionary, according to the company

“We are especially proud to be one of the gold medalists for the International FoodTec Award 2015,” said Marcel Veenstra, marketing and communications manager at Sealpac International. “This award is a valuable confirmation of our development work, especially in designing more sustainable packaging solutions whilst maintaining their functionality.”

Silver award winners

Intralox LLC Europe: DirectDrive System

 Recognized for its DirectDrive System, Intralox is one of nine International FoodTec silver award winners. In conventional overdrive spiral conveyor systems frictional force can lead to the misalignment of products on the conveyor belt. The Direct Driver System, on the other hand, uses a system where the belt is driven directly by the drum, which works in the system like a central cog, thereby eliminating slippage because there is no longer any friction between the edge o the belt and the drum. What this does is ensure the uniform alignment of products on the belt and reliable operation without any contaminations from the drum.

“As a company that places an emphasis on innovation, we’re honored that our patented DirectDrive System has been recognized with the FoodTec Award,” said David Bogle, Intralox Food Team technical manager. “We continuously strive to bring added value to our customers, and this spiral solution has proven to do so by reducing unnecessary downtime and increasing production capacity in plants around the world.”

Linde AG: CRYOLINE SI–IQF Immersion Freezing

 Earning its prize in silver, Linde AG has developed a new generation of freezers called the CRYOLINES SI. Designed mainly for high-grade, loose-rolling food, the freezer is a combination of an immersion bath and a post-cooling tunnel. It has the capacity to process up to 1,000 kg per hour.

“The new immersion freezer CRYOLINE SI is ideally suited for the quick freezing of demanding IQF products,” said Silvia Henke, manager of market development for food. “On the one hand, it stands out due to its very shallow – and therefore energy-efficient – immersion bath. On the other hand, the immersion bath and the post-cooling tunnel are seamlessly integrated in one housing.”

 Product is fed directly into the immersion bath using a vibrating conveyor belt, which works to reduce lumping of product. Cold liquid nitrogen is used to instantly crust-freeze and stabilize product surface. This effectively locks in moisture, which helps to maintain both quality and yield. To use as little liquid nitrogen as possible, the immersion bath has a shallow design. Cold gas energy from the immersion bath stage is further used in the post-cooling tunnel – a step that both increases efficiency and saves time.

“To win an award is always a great experience. It brings a lot of attention on the award-winning technology,” said Henke. “It is a compliment for all colleagues who worked on the development of the freezer.”

By Melanie Epp, contributing writer

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