Dry Processing

Parsing pepper powder perfects the process

A K-Tron loss-in-weight batching system provides a precise combination of ingredients to Mancini Packing’s pepper mix. Source: K-Tron.

Established in 1922, the Mancini Packing Company, based in Zolfo Springs, FL, has been providing premium-quality roasted and fried bell peppers to the US market for decades. Throughout its history, the processor has been improving its methods and technologies for roasting and packaging peppers, continuously peaking quality and increasing throughput. Mancini’s market success necessitated automating the process wherever it could. The most important, defining step in the final product is accurately metering ingredients to the pepper blend.

The raw peppers at the Mancini plant are sourced from a number of local growers. After delivery, the peppers go through a series of detailed processes including washing, seeding and roasting or frying, depending upon the intended end product. Mancini currently produces a wide variety of package sizes, varying from 7-oz. jars to 55-gal. drums for large-volume food service packaging. Prior to packaging, the end product requires a specific, proprietary blend of salt and other ingredients, which is added to the peppers. This salt blend is critical to the flavor as well as stabilization/fortification of the pepper mix. The required volume of the peppers in the end product dictates the specific amount of this blend that must be added.

“The weighing and transfer of the blend to the pepper mixer was done manually, which is prone to error,” says Richard A. Mancini, president and CEO.” In addition, manual methods resulted in higher labor costs and inconsistent product quality,” he adds. After researching the availability of a high-accuracy and versatile batch-weighing system, Mancini discovered the K-Tron Process Group and decided to try loss-in-weight (LIW) batching.

In the Mancini Packing application, a set volume of peppers is delivered to the mixer. At the same time, the K-Tron LIW batcher is activated to deliver a very specific amount of salt blend to the mixer. In the LIW principle, the whole feeder is mounted on a scale or load cells, and the actual amount of product which leaves the feeder is determined by weight.

A batch cycle includes two phases. During the first phase, 90 percent of the batch weight (as determined by the preprogrammed recipe) is fed as quickly as possible. During the second phase, the last 10 percent is fed in a slower, dribble-mode to ensure an accurate batch weight equal to +/-0.1 percent of the desired setpoint. Adjustment of the delivery speed (on/off, fast/slow) as well as the ability to quickly change batch setpoints based upon the packaging requirements is handled by the K-Tron LIW batcher controller. Loss-in-weight batching is often used throughout the food industry where the accurate addition of micro-ingredients (such as probiotics and vitamins) is required due to the high concentration of the additives as well as their cost.

Through process automation, Mancini Packing Company has realized a reduction in labor and process time, and an increase in product quality. The new gravimetric LIW batcher provides an automated, versatile solution to the pepper manufacturing process. “Achieving repeat accuracy in end product quality is something that Mancini Foods sought when deciding to automate our production process,” says Mancini. “We now have a significant increase in the overall quality of our final products.”  

For more information:
Sharon Nowak, 856-256-3119, info@ktron.com

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