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A freezer from more than one view.

A modern spiral freezer is an important and integrated part of most food plant processing lines. Investment costs for equipment have skyrocketed on these lines bringing about a vigilant and continuous watch on operating costs and an ongoing and thorough scrutiny of production related efficiencies.....the optimum utilization of each equipment component on a modern production line is not just a lofty goal articulated by somebody in the front office, it is an economic necessity to remain viable in today's marketplace.

Food production machinery, particularly freezing equipment, costs a lot of money up front. Those costs, however, are downright meager when compared to the value of the product that makes its way through the freezer over just about any amount of time you want to define.

It is therefore incumbent upon the responsible supplier of today's in-line spiral freezers to present a great deal of important, supportable information, much of it technical. Such information must address, indeed focus upon, factors which, over the life of the freezer, will increase the processor's ability to maximize profit by wringing the most efficiency out of every operating variable.

For example, the use of a simple conveyer with some fans is no longer sufficient to freeze food efficiently. The modern freezer must be built to be reliable, energy efficient, hygienic by design, able to produce even, consistent temperatures and a high yield factor. It must also be easy to install, easy to finance, user friendly and offer fail-safe personal safety features to meet the demands of an ever changing work environment and market.

Therefore, there is a very real need for freezers to be designed to be freezers, not as a cold box built around a conveyer system.

Reliability, certainly one of the most important operating factors is an old aspect of production with a brand new importance. Today's processor needs to run around the clock, six or seven days a week in order to meet marketplace objectives and amortize the equipment investment. The marketplace itself has applied a very real pressure on suppliers to provide easily maintained, user friendly freezers because the maintenance variable is an area of expense that can be extremely costly. Historically, a department of high turnover, training problems, and ironically, comparatively higher wages, the reliability issue is being examined ever more closely. The freezer of today, therefore, is installed with a computer to assist in quick, accurate, and safe diagnoses necessary to do problem solving in the preventive mode.

The minimization of energy use in both the freezer and engine room and efficient air distribution are also highly important production factors to minimize dehydration losses, both sources of potentially huge cost savings. Optimum air distribution is created by fan power, ducting, and the freezer's actual design; an uncompromising design that provides efficient freezing while allowing for superior hygiene attributes and cleanability.

Food safety is being closely monitored by federal and state authorities and future regulations and related action will probably become even more aggressive and definitive. It has become clear that hygiene and food safety can never be adequately accomplished if the freezer design itself does not facilitate cleanliness and cleanability. Surface areas within the product zone must be minimized and system stresses, such as friction which cause contamination, eliminated. Clearly, every freezer can be "cleaned", but what is the cost for a thorough cleaning, particularly when there can be more than a mile of product zone support structure, a labyrinthine skeleton of 4-sided metal rails.

Cleaning systems must be more than a system of pipes and nozzles to wet the freezer down. Waste water costs, detergent, and heating costs for the cleaning system are the watchwords of the responsible supplier's message to his customers and prospects. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that the related water cost of today will seem trivial in only a few years due to environmental and regulatory issues which are only now arising.

Most processors are well aware of the ever-changing market. Sometimes, even the product specified in the purchase documentation is out-moded by the time the freezer is installed. Under a variety of related circumstances, the issue equipment flexibility is thus raised. This issue is best addressed by the supplier who has invested in real-life food processing line testing facilities to insure the best use of production equipment. The use of such facilities, which incorporate an array of coating, cooking, and freezing equipment have the ability to replicate production line variables and have proven to be a tremendous cost saver for processors who have used them.

Seldom is a food processing line allowed the "luxury" of being installed in a new plant without interruption. The need for modular, easy to install, freezer designs which are supported by a cadre of experienced project and installation personnel, minimize unnecessary an costly disturbances. Again, the formidable investment and commitment for such support services must be made by those suppliers who intend to be around at the end of this century and beyond.

Products which are frozen must be handled evenly for consistent quality. The airflow of the freezing system must deliver a product that has the same outfeed temperature on the inside of the product as that of its outside. All of this must be done with no compromises on personal safety, freezer efficiency and cleanability, simplicity of operation, and 24-hour customer support for parts and service.

Low cost freezing can be achieved. It is simply a matter of looking at the cost of freezing versus the cost of the freezer. Initial investment even if somewhat higher, is quickly offset by considering the operating variables outlined in the foregoing and can be easily achieved by creative financing made possible by an efficient production unit.

Claes Olsson President Frigoscandia
COPYRIGHT 1992 Frozen Food Digest, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:spiral freezer
Author:Olsson, Claes
Publication:Frozen Food Digest
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Previous Article:Nutrition labeling to benefit consumers; food industry.
Next Article:Potato producers finding big market in frozen fries.

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