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Labor-saving weighing and packing: meet the RobotGrader

Seeking a solution to labor shortages when it comes to grading, weighing, and packing chicken fillets and other protein products? The RobotGrader is the automated, high-speed, high-precision solution that does it all. Now available to customers in North America through JBT, the RobotGrader has been developed to grade products of varying weight and pack a fixed weight straight into the package, helping eliminate unnecessary manual labor in the process.

Fast and efficient in handling a variety of products from drumsticks to thighs, the system weighs, scans, sorts and packs into required tray sizes, as well as calculating the best combination of pieces to reach the target pack weight every time.

Speed and precision
Much more compact than a belt grader system and with significant hygienic benefits, the RobotGrader make use of a vision-only grading system similar to that seen in DSI equipment, and also comes with the option of an additional belt weighdeck.

According to DSI Product Manager, Alec Hewitt, the RobotGrader weighs and picks items for placement and is equally effective for bulk grading as it is for individual chicken fillets. 

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“The RobotGrader is designed for tray packing in addition to grading products: it will take a product, scan and weight it, and even pick what tray it is going to go into,” he explains. 

“Let’s say a customer wants every tray to weigh 1lb and the piece moving through doesn’t meet that target. The RobotGrader will spread the product out until it finds another piece of the right weight that makes up the 1lb. The amount of speed and precision Robot Grader can maintain is really quite astonishing when you see it in person.”

Streamlining labor
JBT and Gothenburg, Sweden-based Robotgrader AB signed a formal distribution agreement in October 2021 for JBT to become the official distributor in North America, and since then have been working to get the RobotGrader ready for the North American market, says Hewitt.

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In particular, Hewitt says the RobotGrader will allow North American customers to take advantage of the Net Weight Packaging system, which has attracted widespread uptake in Europe. The key advantage of the system, he explains, is that is eliminates a great deal of backroom labor for both the supplier and the end customer by removing the need for fillets or other products to be weighed and labelled in-store. 

A proven technology, there are RobotGraders installed with a wide range of food industry customers covering Europe and the Middle East, in countries including Norway, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Saudi Arabia.

LEARN MORE about the RobotGrader

Avure HPP: the natural solution for protein processors

For protein companies seeking a more natural processing solution which also delivers significant shelf-life and food safety advantages, High Pressure Processing (HPP) technology from JBT Avure could be the ideal solution. Clean, safe and capable of extending shelf-life, Avure HPP systems can handle a wide range of protein products, using cold treatment technology which helps preserve flavor, texture or quality.

HPP works by processing foods at extremely high water pressure (up to 6,000 bar / 87,000 psi – more than the deepest ocean). The effect of this process is that Avure HPP machines neutralize listeria, salmonella, E. coli and other deadly bacteria.

Unlike thermal, chemical and other high-heat treatments, HPP runs cold, allowing food taste, texture and quality to remain unaffected during processing. Most significantly of all, HPP can extend shelf life up to two or three times longer than traditional preservation methods.

Cold treatment technology
For the protein industry, HPP treatment is just as affective for sausages and ready-to-eat meats as it is for whole muscle meats, such as whole ham and whole roast beef. According to Lisa Wessels, marketing director for JBT Avure, this process means companies can offer customers a completely natural meat or protein, with zero preservatives or additives. “HPP offers our protein customers pasteurization without heat,” she explains. “It will effectively kill any e.coli, salmonella, listeria and extend the shelf-life.”

Newest innovation
The FlexiBulk (pictured above) is one of the newest and more innovative developments from Avure for food processors across all industries. Focusing on delivering capacity, sustainability and flexibility, the FlexiBulk achieves increased capacity due to its improved packing density, while it provides the maximum in HPP flexibility with the ability to run bulk and in-package products in the same cycle. 

“This has never been done before,” says Wessels. “Ultimately, the FlexiBulk’s capacity, sustainability and flexibility add up a big win for food and beverage companies, processors, HPP tollers, and customers.”

LEARN MORE about Avure HPP solutions

JBT electrically-heated ovens: aiding access to renewable energy sources

It probably goes without saying that Europe – and indeed much of world – is facing an uncertain future when it comes to energy sources. Turmoil, war and concerns over climate change, are prompting moves by countries to become less dependent on fossil fuels, such as gas, oil and coal. But for food processors who have traditionally powered ovens using these fuels, the situation presents a dilemma on how to move to more renewable sources.

JBT’s range of electrically-heated ovens provide an answer. Adapted to enable plug-in access to renewable energy sources, the JBT range – which includes the Stein TwinDrum Spiral Oven and M-Fryer, the Double D Revoband Continuous Protein Oven, and the Formcook Contact and Combi Cookers – provides customers with greater security during unpredictable times.

JBT Stein TwinDrum 600 Spiral Oven from JBT.

“Europe wants to become less dependent on oil, gas and coal, and customers putting in new equipment are increasingly requesting machines capable of running on renewable energy,” explains Bart Kivits, JBT’s Manager for Coating and Cooking Applications. “This is not just environmentally-sound, it’s also investing in the long-term capability of operating equipment. With the situation over gas uncertain, electrically-heated ovens provide more security for the future.”

Sustainable options
Of course, electrically-heated ovens are not the only sustainable option offered by JBT. With the cost of cooking oil skyrocketing over recent months, JBT’s innovative frying solutions have been attracting increasing interest from food processors.

Due to having a relatively small volume compared to the size of the machine, the Stein M-Fryer uses up to 20% less cooking oil in the tank than competitor systems, meaning customers can make significant savings while generating far less waste due to oil spoilage. “With the price of cooking oil rising, customers can save a lot of money by using the M-Fryer,” says Kivits. “Plus, if you have much less oil inside the fryer, then the oil life tends to be longer.”

The Dry Fry System
The cost of cooking oil has also prompted an increasing number of enquiries about JBT’s Dry Fry solutions, which radically reduces oil usage and provides a healthier means of frying foods. 

Designed to process a wide range of healthier food options while maintaining a ‘just fried’ taste and appearance, the Dry-Fry uses up to 50% less oil to cook battered and breaded products, as well as meatballs, plant-based and vegetarian foods. Perhaps even more significantly, the Dry-Fry enables the use of a far wider range of frying ingredients, including healthier alternatives such as olive oil, which are not fit for a deep frying process.

LEARN MORE about JBT’s electrically-heated oven concept and the Dry Fry System

JBT Stein M-Fryer: beat the cooking oil price surge

Soaring cooking oil prices is currently a hot topic for any company involved in mass producing fried foods. Drought-affected harvests and the demand for raw materials from biodiesel plants – combined with Indonesia’s ban on palm oil exports and the war in Ukraine, among other factors – have exacerbated an already difficult situation, meaning pressure on food processors is growing. 

The JBT Stein M-Fryer offers a solution. Using up to 25% less cooking oil in the tank compared with competitor systems, the M-Fryer offers a low consumption solution, which at the same time has been developed to prolong oil quality through gentle heating and sediment removal.

In fact, the M-Fryer will help customers make significant savings on cooking oil, while at the same time generating far less waste by avoiding the all-too-typical production cycle of large volumes of oil having to be thrown away due to spoilage.

No excess oil
“Due to the technology we use in our fryers, the way they are built, and the type of heat exchanger they have, the M-Fryer is able to have up to 25% less oil in the kettle than other competitors,” explains JBT Regional Solutions Manager Marcelo Scharlack.

“Having less oil means a quicker oil turnover and less oil waste. Excess oil will eventually spoil and has to be thrown away. And now the world is suffering a shortage of oil: Indonesia is shutting down palm oil exports, the war in Ukraine is not helping among other reasons, so oil prices are easily in the realm of €4 a litre and beyond. That’s hitting companies hard that use oil for frying.”

Design innovations
A key element of the M-Fryer is its design. A reduced tank volume means a smaller volume of oil is needed to fulfill the job – without prolonging process times. Meanwhile, the design of the heat exchanger, oil circulation, internal filters and sediment removal all serve to keep the oil quality better for a longer period of time. 

“ We keep volumes low and the heat exchanging very gentle,” adds Scharlack. “Having up to 25% less oil will help companies make savings especially as prices for cooking oil are now so high.”

LEARN MORE about the JBT Stein M-Fryer

JBT’s Frigoscandia FLoFREEZE: how fast freezing boosts yield and quality

When it comes to freezing fruits, vegetables or even fish, pasta and rice, the problem of products sticking together into a homogenous mass can be all too common. But did you know that Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) technology from JBT’s Frigoscandia FLoFREEZE® can overcome these pitfalls and deliver improved product quality and yield?

Lars Michael Svensson, JBT Regional Sales Support Manager, here outlines some of the key advantages offered by the FLoFREEZE and provides tips on achieving consistently optimum performance.

One of the first advantages you have with the FLoFREEZE is its flexibility: you can quick-freeze a huge range of products with the same machine. For example, you can run small fish one day, pasta the next, rice the third and strawberries the fourth, and you can do all that with the same FLoFREEZE system.

Efficiency with gentle handling: the JBT Frigoscandia FLoFREEZE

At the same time and thanks to IQF innovations, the quality of the product coming out of the freezer is fantastic from all the customer feedback we have received. It is also a very efficient way of freezing products. By freezing fast, water loss is far lower, so you can achieve a very good yield. And thanks to its speed, the footprint of the FLoFREEZE is substantially smaller than a standard freezer system, which would need to be far larger to handle similar volumes. 

Product quality is maintained thanks to gentle handling which allows delicate products such as berries, fresh spices and tropical fruits to be maintain their fresh appearance and flavor characteristics.

True fluidization
So how does the FLoFREEZE work? IQF technology uses an airstream to freeze products one-by-one. This allows for the movement of air around each product to separate them, so they don’t stick together. The FLoFREEZE provides true fluidization, using a patented air flow system that separates and freezes the most delicate products, while simultaneously fulfilling the industry’s toughest requirements for hygiene, economy and user-friendly operation.

Products typically run through the FLoFREEZE are smaller dimension foods that can fluidize, such as fruits, berries, vegetables, pasta and shrimps. The products float in the airstream, behaving like a liquid, which allows us to individually freeze the surfaces, so they won’t stick together.

Optimizing freezing
But how can customers get the most out of this technology? JBT offers a wealth of experience and knowhow that can be utilised to support customers in overcoming difficulties and finding the right solution for their specific products. With knowledge based on 60 years’ experience in IQF freezing and food processing, our food processing technologists will help guide and adapt processes according to customers’ production needs. 

Effective solutions
Both inside and entering the machine, we have options to separate products depending on shape, dimensions and temperature. A vibratory shaker feeds the product into the machine, so you get an even-flow. Then inside the machine, on the first IQF track – where we carry out crust freezing – customers have the option of running an agitation process, meaning the product is moved back and forth rapidly to separate it.

The FLoFREEZE allows you to restrict the amount of air at entrance, to pre-cool the product before fluidization begins. Further, we have options to control air coming through the product bed: instead of a constant flow, we have a pulsator which opens and closes fast to variate the airstream causing the product to move up and down.

Once it moves onto the second belt, the product is taken down to -18C. Thanks to the process carried out in the first stage, the product can move to this second belt without having risk of sticking together and creating lumps. So using all these options, we help customers get the most out of their FLoFREEZE and enable them to benefit fully from the system’s flexibility, speed and undoubted effectiveness. 

READ MORE about the JBT Frigoscandia FLoFREEZE® IQF Freezer

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