JBT’s Frigoscandia FLoFREEZE IQF freezer is a pioneering technology in the field of individual freezing for vegetables, fruits, fish and other products, which remains at the forefront of the industry, thanks to its versatility and ability to deliver true fluidization. Stefan Paulsson, JBT’s Director of Value Stream & Global Product Line for Cooking & Linear Freezers, explains how the system came to be and why it remains as relevant as ever.
The inception of FLoFREEZE can be traced back to beginnings of Frigoscandia itself, the Helsingborg, Sweden-based company – now part of JBT – which worked closely with a long-established frozen food brand, also located in southern Sweden.
Frigoscandia developed the first machine that later became FLoFREEZE together with the food brand because in the 1950s and 60s, when you took a packet of frozen vegetables out of the fridge, what you got was a frozen brick. You couldn’t take out a specific amount, you had take out everything and put it in boiling water. So they wanted to be able to freeze the products individually, and that’s how the Individual Quick Freezer (IQF) for frozen products was developed.
This was achieved by making sure the products move all the time when you freeze them, so they don’t stick to each other. At the end of the process, you have a product which is individually frozen and then you put it in a box and send it to your customer, and they can just pour out how much they want. The FLoFREEZE is based upon the fluidization principle in which the products behave like a liquid and basically float through the freezer. This is what creates a perfect separation of the products and a high freezing efficiency.
How FLoFREEZE works
In this range, we have two different product types – the FLoFREEZE A and FLoFREEZE M. The FLoFREEZE A focuses on smaller amounts of fruits and vegetables, from one ton an hour up to six. The FLoFREEZE M handles bigger amounts, all the way up to 18 tons per hour (When we talk tons here, we always talks about peas – how many tons of peas you can do and then it’s translated to the relevant product).
But having a good understanding of how FLoFREEZE works, will deliver a perfect result. The FLoFREEZE delivers true fluidization, and that’s the key to achieving optimum product quality.
We do this in two ways: pulsation of the product, so the airflow is coming through the belt into the product zone on and off, moving the product up and down; and then by agitation back and forth on the belt to get the horizontal separation of the product – that’s how we get true fluidization.
The target here is we freeze the products in their natural condition. We don’t want to destroy a strawberry. It’s very important it comes out looking like we put it in, so you get the highest product quality.
One of the good things about FLoFREEZE is it’s very good across a diversity of products. It can handle a wide range of products – any vegetables from carrots and potatoes to onions and garlic, soft fruits, sardines and even mozzarella cheese.
The FLoFREEZE has been continuously improved and updated, and one such example is a Refreezing Belt that has been added for glazing. Typically applied to broccoli, where glazing is used to protect the product, water is added following freezing and then refrozen to add the glazing effect.
With a product that is wet when it comes into a freezer, you will have a lot of ice build-up in your machine, so after eight or 10 hours, you really need to start defrosting it. But with the FLoFREEZE, we have an ADF (Air Defrost) that blows ice out of the coil, so you can extend your production time. In 2018, for the FLoFREEZE M, we also introduced a Sequential Defrost (SD) feature, which provides an extra evaporator so when one evaporator is blocked with ice, you can engage the other one, enabling you to defrost the evaporator that is blocked, and in the process extending the production time.