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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
“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.”