While obtaining optimal yield is a priority in size reduction applications, other factors such as food safety, operator safety and equipment reliability are key concerns.
There are several types of size reduction machinery for cutting, grinding, granulizing, chopping, mincing, peeling, pulping and pressing products. While it’s impossible to delve into each of these devices in detail, several common denominators affect their selection. These include yield, food safety, operator safety and reliability.
When suppliers are asked what processors value in size reduction equipment, there are no surprises: Yields, uptime and food safety are the top three.
But there are several inter-related, additional concerns. For example, one aspect of yield is related to the ability to perform product size reduction while not degrading the main product itself, such as frozen vegetables or frozen products like orange pulp. The trick is to be able to pull the frozen material apart without grinding the individual pieces themselves.
The number one concern for processors is yield-getting the product at the right size without generating waste. Automation in recipe-driven equipment can help take the guesswork out of, for example, where to set the rollers in milling machines, making it easy to switch products and reset equipment automatically, reducing set-up time and getting the optimum particle-size distribution, says Brian Thomas, Modern Process Equipment’s director of business and application development.
For some processors, the leftovers or scrap from one process might be the ingredient for another product with a little help from the right size reduction equipment. For example, rather than throwing away carrot ends, why not run them through a peeler and come up with a small ball that can be added to a vegetable medley or a soup, suggests Steve Knauth, Munson Machinery general sales manager. Chicken nuggets and sausage are good examples of “recycled” product.
Reprocessing of off-spec food stuffs has always been an application for size reduction-for example, breads, cookies, snack foods and confectionery products. “It is my belief that all successful food manufacturers have for all practical purposes zero waste,” says Thomas Kendrick, director of process technology of The Fitzpatrick Company.