The increasing global importance on reducing food loss and increasing efficiency in the food supply chain is driving food manufacturers to seek out ways to change their production methods for the better. Batch2Flow, designed by technology specialists from GEA, offers such improvements to food manufacturers.
An automation food processing solution, Batch2Flow won an industry excellence award for the best food processing innovation at the recent Gulfood Manufacturing exhibition held in Dubai. Gulfood is one of the most prestigious exhibitions of its kind in the region, covering every aspect of food processing.
Producing formed products on high-capacity lines requires full control of the process to meet the food quality specifications each time. Big volumes mean that a lot is at stake. Therefore, quality control is key for the bottom line as well — variations in the mix at the beginning of the process will require adjustments further down the line. Too much variation in the mix can negatively influence yield, and can lead to undesired lower product quality (b-grades), less line productivity or even waste. With the automation solution Batch2Flow, the precise specifications in the recipe are continuously safeguarded, so that the desired parameters of the rest of the line can be optimally met.
It starts with mixing the ingredients in a controlled and conditioned environment; next, this innovative solution moves the mix along a conveyor system from the mixers straight into the former. The mixers have synchronised unloading to allow controlled portion delivery onto the conveyor, at the same time making sure that the mix has the right temperature and viscosity at any time, optimal for the next forming step. No trolley storage or manual handling is needed. Energy consuming cold stores are obsolete, food waste is avoided, cleaning costs are significantly reduced, and there is full traceability as nothing is removed from the line.
Bart Leenders, product specialist for GEA, said: “We focus on the application and what matters to our clients, and ultimately the consumer. From preparation to forming, Batch2Flow optimises production, improves quality and reduces labour. It ensures high quality, consistent meat, poultry or vegetable mixes for formed products, in a continuous in-line process. We’re delighted that this process innovation for food production was recognised with the award from Gulfood.”
The Batch2Flow technology is an efficient, energy-saving and hygienic process that delivers savings for the bottom line as well. With energy savings, plants benefit from a lower outlay; removing manual handling from the line means that labour costs are reduced, and reduced food waste means higher yields. Moreover, by guarding the quality of the mix, the success of the complete production line is defined. It is a solution with long-term benefits for plant managers at one end to consumers at the other.