Consumer demand is increasing for convenience food products that require freezing or chilling. This is the new reality being addressed from production to the retail environment in the COVID era. They project the frozen bakery products market to grow to USD 29.5 billion by 2026 from USD 22.3 billion in 2021, according to a Markets and Markets report. Growing demand is pressuring manufacturing environments and spiral freeze manufactures to deliver innovative technologies to support freezing and chilling production needs.
The spiral conveyor and associated freezing systems must not only respond to higher throughput, but higher quality. They must match regulated speed and integration with the entire conveyor line and individual production processes to freezing technologies and conveyance that maintains quality.
Conveyor systems must accommodate wider widths that enable better spacing of products while maximizing throughput in highly regulated process timing junctures. All portions of the conveyor system must guard against product damage and provide easy cleaning for unpackaged product convenience phases. This requires new conveyor designs that can integrate stainless or modular plastic chain unit to meet that need.
Why Spiral Freezers and Conveyors Require Precise Integration
The engineered air flow of chillers and freezers must quickly lower temperatures for baked products to avoid quality issues while increasing eventual shelf life. Space can also be a concern in production environments, so spiral freeze manufacturers must find the balance in size reduction and maximum throughput. Freezer and compressor unit designs are crucial to
different freezers and chillers for different food products.
Spiral freezers and their integrated conveyor systems play a central role in frozen food manufacturing. While manufacturer engineer them for maximum uptime and throughput, these systems must also deliver a product of consistent quality and texture through consistent temperature.
The spiral freezer provides mechanical or cryogenic refrigeration methods and high velocity air to maintain the desired temperature across the product. But equally important is the role of the freezing spiral conveyor in a manufacturing world where the food conveyor role is changing. This provides crucial processes for moving the product via attributes, such as self-stacking, variable speeds, and multitiered belt configurations. It is the precise integration of these elements that enable high quality finished products at speed while minimizing needed plant refrigeration space.
Engineering for Quality, Minimizing Energy Costs
Airflow configurations of the spiral freezer may vary from a horizontal cross flow to a vertical downflow. This can depend on many design and outcome parameters, along with specific product needs. Things like faster freezing time product dehydration reduction and waste minimization all play a part in temperature, airflow, and spiral conveyor designs for ideal quality.
Energy use is a major cost parameter for food manufacturers that requires consistent product temperatures for chilling or freezing. They must maintain quality of frozen foods in the production cycle to ensure the highest quality handoff to the consumer market.
Spiral freeze manufacturers that can provide systems that deliver precise control accuracy and system function integration can make it easier to control temperature consistency. This need will vary across food manufacturer processes, product type, and throughput needs, so the systems must provide highly variable monitoring and control systems.
The Benefits of Holistic Spiral Freezer System Design
Meeting specific food manufacturing and plant needs requires system manufacturers to have the capabilities to deliver variable designs. This mix of customized and standardized systems will include options for:
- Compressor condenser packages
- Programmable logic controllers
- Human-machine interface (HMI)
- Large and small drum drive systems
- Plastic or metal conveyor designs
The goal is to choose a spiral freeze manufacturer that works in partnership with each plant to develop a system for their specific needs. By creating a holistic system based on plant and product needs, it’s possible to save as much as 50 percent in energy costs over systems without this level of integration. Variability in operation, management, and control is just as important in that holistic design as mechanical and physical design parameters. They should all work together to:
- Allow adjustable temperature, air velocity, and conveyor speed
- Meet conveyor and plant process production needs where baking, chilling, and/or freezing are part of the same continuous process
- Provide accurate data of operating parameters and changes in motor operation, temperature, and speed via sensors
- Deliver a design optimized for easy cleaning to eliminate contamination while maximizing freezer uptime and performance
COVID continues to have a profound impact on markets, production, and consumer needs. The growth of packaged meals and frozen foods are two areas of food manufacturing that have forever changed. It’s not hyperbole to say that the changing pandemic has changed freezing/ chilling production and conveyor handling needs forever. Plants must seek versatile spiral freeze systems to adjust to changing costs, production, product, and quality needs today and tomorrow.
To learn how Conovey can partner with your frozen/ baked food production plant to deliver cost effective and higher quality products through spiral freeze conveyors, Contact us today.