JBT’s newly launched CleanFREEZETM spiral freezer marks a step-forward from the long-standing Northfield SuperTRAK Structure Supported Spiral Freezer, with a system that offers innovations in both hygiene and cleaning. A radical redesign of the freezer has been focused on making the machine easier and faster to clean and has significantly reduced the risk of bacterial growth across the structure.
By eliminating flat and overlapping surfaces, and reimagining the cleaning system, JBT engineers have been able to bring the overall sanitation time down to four hours from a previous five-six, while maintenance, servicing times and safety have also been improved by moving the fan motors to the exterior of the unit and providing stairs instead of ladders.
Innovative design According to John Bauer, JBT’s division product manager for freezers, the CleanFREEZE freezer takes the original design on which the SuperTRAK was based and adds new hygienic features, including innovations that differentiate the CleanFREEZE freezer from other spiral freezers and go beyond what is currently available on the wider market.
Among other design improvements, the previous tubular structure has been eliminated from the CleanFREEZE freezer, while overlapping joints have been kept to an absolute minimum and formerly flat, horizontal surfaces have been sloped. “We’ve eliminated thousands of feet of overlapping surfaces through our solid, capless belt support compared with the previous capped, stainless steel tracks, while we’ve made the drum drivebar more cleanable,” says Bauer.
Faster cleaning However, one of the most crucial changes, continues Bauer, has been a significant reduction in the overall cleaning system time – from defrosting to cleaning to pulldown – from up to six hours previously to an average of four hours. “This remains a foaming style, single pass system but with a significantly reduced cleaning time,” he says.
This has been partly achieved through a radically revised freezer design, which features the fan motors on the exterior of the freezer rather than inside the box, making it easier to service the motor as no defrost process is now required.
JBT’s goal, Bauer adds, was to create a more hygienic, structurally supported freezer that goes beyond what is currently available on the market and in that they would appear to have succeeded.
JBT Stein M-Fryer is the pioneer of “direct” heated immersion fryers where oil is heated directly in the fryer tank for superior temperature control and minimum oil volumes. Engineered to meet the needs of convenience food processors, the M-Fryer has predominantly been used for chicken based snack foods, but increasingly it is finding favor with the vegetarian and meat-replacement industry.
The M-Fryer, which uses as its basis proven THERMoFIN® technology, delivers maximum output and operating economy with great product and process flexibility, providing benefits including superior product quality, cost effective frying, flexibility, food safety, and operating safety.
Key features One of the key features of the system is that it achieves heat exchange using plates rather than tubes, meaning far less debris build up and a considerable improvement on oil life, explains JBT’s Manager for Coating and Cooking Applications, Bart Kivits.
“The M-Fryer is more gentle on the oil and doesn’t break it down so fast because the plates have a large contact area,” he says. “Also the low volume of oil inside the tank has a benefit for the processor because they don’t need to put so much inside. The oil inside the fryer is more stationary: it doesn’t have to be pumped around, which helps keep the oil cleaner and helps the oil life.”
Market demand Another key element of the M-Fryer design is that the system is 1.5 m shorter than any other fryer currently available in the industry, meaning can still achieve good capacity even if there is limited room, while still maintaining production capacity.
Although the M-Fryer has typically been used by snack and poultry processors for nuggets and other fast-dining options, the solution is increasingly being used to cook vegetarian products in response to the growing visibility and importance of non-meat foods.
“Clearly the demand for vegetarian and meat-replacement products is growing, and these processors are looking for fryers to meet their requirements,” says Kivits. “The biggest growth at the moment in snack foods is in vegetarian products. The industry is growing so fast that all the big, global players are now involved to some extent, so it is being viewed as an area of opportunity.”
The launch of the Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT® 70 in the summer of 2020 marked the debut of a new solution that delivers advances in food safety, performance and space optimization. Here, Ena Salic (pictured), R&D Project Manager at JBT EMEA Protein, gives an insight into how the GYRoCOMPACT 70 came into being.
A few years back, during a JBT R&D meeting, the development of a new GYRoCOMPACT machine platform – the GYRoCOMPACT 70 – was discussed, with input gathered from customers in Europe and North America. Combined with new hygiene regulations and the latest technical insights, this created a challenging outline for the new GC70. It was the start of a remarkable journey.
To begin with, innovative concepts were visualized and presented to customers. In return, valuable feedback helped to guide and create new, strong solutions fulfilling their needs and expectations. The next step was the decision to build a full-scale prototype, a huge investment showing the company’s trust in the project. Failure was not an option. It was all about learning and adapting, and a very creative and stimulating process developed.
Challenging project Leading the project from early 2019 was Ena Salic, a young development engineer who joined JBT in 2017. Ena took on the role as GC70 Project manager with enthusiasm and it did not take long until she was in full control of the process.
“It was all new to me, having the leading role of a project of this size and keeping the team and project on track,” Ena recalls. “It was a challenging project. If you look at the predecessors of 700 mm freezers, which have been a huge success, JBT has sold over 1,700 of them. With all the information on the table, we wondered what we could do better here. From input to drawing board to simulations, testing and building the prototype was one big fascinating journey.”
Hygenic design Supported by two lead designers with decades of experience, and her manager, Ena and the team cleared all obstacles in their way. Highlighting the wins and pointing out the good things helped refocus from the inevitable setbacks, while progress was discussed and evaluated routinely. This worked out very well, says Ena, not only for the end result but to help understand the objective and reasons for what the team was doing.
“Over the years we developed a sense of ownership, it became our machine,” she continues. Bit by bit we improved the design, from the small to the big things. Optimizing the hygienic design has been a top priority throughout the whole process and is apparent in the smallest details of the design.”
Customer First At JBT we always put the customer front and center in everything we do, so when the development of the GC70 was started, it was made sure the customer was included from the very beginning. “It is not surprising that the people who know the most about the products you are developing are the ones who are using it every day,” Ena says. “Insights and requirements were gathered from customers worldwide. When combined with JBT’s deep technical know-how from 60+ years of building freezers you can arrive at some truly innovative solutions. These solutions can be seen in several patents pending for the GC70.”
Multifaceted project The development of the GC70 involved a long and multifaceted project, focusing on not just implementing effective food safety and performance innovations, but also on delivering a modular design that is easy to customize according to customer needs and demands. “During the process, the team kept in mind considerations about manufacturing, production maintenance and serviceability, the whole chain,” says Ena. “We created solutions for saving energy or water and consumables and one of the machine’s most important features: enhanced food safety design.” Initiated by JBT EVP and Protein President Paul Sternlieb, who has a background in R&D, patents have been applied for five innovations from the GC70 project.
Perfect Freezer Developing the GC70 wasn’t an easy and straight path to success, with many design considerations on the drawing table that never made it to the final product. Variables regarding performance, manufacturing, product maintenance, serviceability, energy and consumables all had to be weighed against each other. Constant iteration and optimization was the name of the game, culminating in the development of a full-sized prototype that was rigorously tested in JBT’s lab. “Every problem we find in the lab is a problem we didn’t have to discover at the customer’s site,” Ena explains.
But even though the goal was to deliver as perfect a solution as possible, the engineers were aware of the impossibility of achieving a one-size-fits-all for JBT’s wide range of customers, so the GC70 was built from the ground up with modularity in mind in order to achieve as close to perfection for each machine.
iOPS connection “We’re engineers, we always want to improve things, that’s our work, to optimize it and make it better,” says Ena. “As a separate project we also worked connecting the GC70 to iOPS: JBT´s Industrial Internet of Things technology, the next step for predictive maintenance and service. Looking at the whole process, connecting all bits and pieces as a tight team, solving problems, creating quality solutions that work, is fun, it’s exciting.”
“Having the responsibility is tough,” she admits. “But the support from the team and their energy made it a whole lot easier. We did this together, and when you see the end result, that everything is working, and even exceeding expectations, as well as everyone´s enthusiasm and excitement, that feels very rewarding.”
The GC70 represents a significant step forward for the GYRoCOMPACT-line and sets a new standard for competitors to be measured by. It will serve as the platform for spiral freezers for many years to come. “It is truly remarkable,” adds Ena. “Now we can actually continue our journey together with the customer that we first initiated when starting the development of the GC70 and make sure that we deliver on the promise made throughout the life of the machine.”
JBT Avure will be hosting a free HPP webinar on Wednesday March 3 at 10 AM EST to discuss how High Pressure Processing can make a substantial difference for seafood customers, both in terms of yield and profit. Joining Dr Errol Raghubeer, Avure VP of Food Science, will be John Hathaway, CEO of Shuck’s Maine Lobster, who will be telling us first-hand of his experience using HPP with seafood.
A cold pasteurization process, HPP uses ultra-high pressure purified water to keep seafood both shell and pathogen free. Already used in several segments of the food industry to inactivate foodborne pathogens, HPP provides an approved process in the oyster industry for the inactivation of Vibro bacteria which carries a high risk for the consumption of raw oysters and other shellfish.
Crucially, as well as extending shelflife and improving nutrition, mouthfeel and taste, HPP separates 100% of meat from the shells without the use of heat, and increases total meat yield in lobster by 80% compared to heat.
JBT Avure’s Marketing Director for HPP technologies, Lisa Wessels, said: “Our customer John Hathaway fromShuck’s Maine Lobster has experience of the difference HPP has made for lobsters. When you HPP lobster, you get 100% separation of the meat from the shell, whereas you never get that with manual shucking. It also retains more fluid after going through HPP versus manual, so that helps improve the weight and helps make the lobster a little more profitable.”
HPP can be used for all types of shellfish, including oyster, clam and shrimp.
JBT’s IoT (Internet of Things) platform iOPS is continuing its expansion during the early weeks of 2021, with the first custom-built iOPS Dashboard for the JBT Stein TwinDrum Spiral Oven being successfully launched for a market leading European customer. Specialising in cooked chicken products, the customer is able to use the iOPS Dashboard to gain instant access to performance data, enabling them to achieve optimum product results and tackle any potential problems.
Using a TwinDrum Oven that started running in 2020, the customer is now able to receive minute-by-minute information from the system, which will help consistently produce the desired color and yield, explains JBT’s Manager for Coating and Cooking Applications, Bart Kivits.
“Before iOPS we had to go out to the customer to get performance data, but now we are able to view the data on our laptops through the iOPS Dashboard, which shows straightaway what exactly is going on,” he says. “For both the customer and the team at JBT, instant access to this data is hugely valuable. Customers can see what’s going on with the oven, so from the application side, they almost immediately see value.”
Improved support By being able to look at the oven performance data such as feedback from temperature sensors on any given day, Kivits says JBT is also able to better support both the customer and its own team on site. “This information shows us for example if the air was not as hot as it should be, if there wasn’t enough steam or if there are performance problems with the products,” he says.
But not only is the JBT and the customer able to look at how the oven is performing, they can also examine factors – from a laptop or telephone – such as how much energy it is consuming and how long it has been running, enabling efficiency and energy-saving improvements.
With the iOPS Dashboard adaptable to almost any JBT technology and continued positive feedback from customers, Kivits adds that expansion of the platform is only likely to continue in the months and years ahead.