GEA has launched Batch2Flow, a solution that secures the food production process, saves energy and water and significantly reduces the use of cleaning chemicals.
Maintaining a safe temperature of the ingredients is especially crucial in the process. Not only does this help to prevent spoilage, it also helps to ensure that the optimum viscosity of the meat mixture is maintained throughout the initial forming process, leading to successful, perfectly created nuggets. But that takes a lot of energy use, specialized chilled rooms to store meat between the mixing and forming stages of the process.
In addition, the process is relatively complicated and susceptible to human mistakes. To move the mixed product from the mixer to the former, most producers use standard 200L trollies. It’s hard physical work, and inevitably, there’s a time delay between the meat leaving the mixer and entering the former. At this point, it depends on the operator to ensure that no contamination enters the mix.
Industrial mixers work quickly, so before the first trolley can be loaded into the former, the next batch is filling up another trolley. So, one person has to quickly move the trolleys into a cold store while another moves them one by one from the cold store to the former. In the meantime, the optimum temperature and viscosity of the mix is starting to deteriorate as it moves towards the ambient temperature. And, if a trolley gets forgotten, it results in costly wastage as the contents will have to be disposed of.
In the worst-case scenario, a forgotten trolley could be mistakenly loaded into the former, seriously risking the food safety of the product. Even when all goes to plan there is wastage, as residue remains within the trolleys, so these have to be cleaned repeatedly with hot water and chemicals.
Batch2Flow – automated link between mixing and forming
Batch2Flow eliminates these difficulties by moving the mix seamlessly and rapidly along a conveyor system from the mixers straight into the former, and the mixers have special unloading steps to allow controlled portion delivery onto the conveyor. As a result, it will be at precisely the right temperature and viscosity when it reaches the former. No energy-consuming cold stores are needed, food waste is avoided, cleaning costs are significantly reduced, and there is full traceability as nothing is removed from the line.
With Batch2Flow GEA experts have designed the missing link between mixing and forming, that comes with additional benefits for food safety too. GEA noticed that the cold metal trolleys in a forming line had a tendency to attract moisture – condensation which has the potential to drip off and contaminate the mix when the trolley is tipped upside down and emptied into the former. And in tipping the trolleys upside down, the four wheels which have been on the floor are exposed above the product, time and time again. Batch2Flow completely removes these risks, whilst minimizing waste and reducing energy consumption.
The solution from GEA features customized discharge gates, as well as specialized machine and line software and allows a fully seamless process. In addition, processors using Batch2Flow technology be confident that they are not only using an efficient, energy-saving, and hygienic process, but also achieving bottom-line savings. Energy savings reduce overall plant expenses and minimized food waste results in higher yields. It’s a simple but smart solution with far-reaching benefits for plant managers.
GEA is one of the world’s largest systems suppliers for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. The international industrial technology group specializes in machinery and plants as well as advanced process technology, components and comprehensive services. With more than 18,000 employees, the group generated revenue of more than EUR 4.6 billion in fiscal year 2020. A major focus is on continuously enhancing the sustainability and efficiency of customers’ production processes. GEA plants, processes and components help achieve significant reductions in carbon emissions, plastic use and food waste in production worldwide. In this way, GEA makes a decisive contribution toward a sustainable future, fully in line with its corporate philosophy of “engineering for a better world.”