The type and viscosity of food product, thermal processing technology, desired texture, and cooking/processing cycle times are considered when specifying the agitator solution. Primary consideration for mixing or blending agitator solution begins with the ability for the food product to self-level. Agitator configurations also include scrapers with indirect cooking applications.
In some applications, the agitator itself may not significantly affect throughput improvement, but the overall solution does. The driving forces for throughput in batch processing is cycle times, loading, and discharging.
However, the wrong agitator solution will not mix or blend the product well. Solids need to be homogeneous and remain intact during processing operations. Further, the product must remain in a mixed state throughout the process and discharge operations.
During project discussions, Mepaco’s application team defines mixing as adding ingredients for the correct mix and consistency, while blending provides a change of the food product's properties.
The thermal processing solution is customized to the specific application. The PLC is programmed to include agitator speeds, pauses, and direction changes for the desired results. Further, the Mixer or Blender equipment will be sized for the batch volume required along with options (vacuum, cooling, searing, caramelizing) to meet the batch cycle times, quality and throughput goals for the processing solution.
Visit Mixers or Visit Cookers
Large-volume automation in the meat processing industry brings a higher risk of foreign material contamination. Foreign material can include metal shavings and shards from grinders, mixers and dicers, wood and nails from pallets, and numerous other materials like plastics and glass.
The following are equipment options and proper maintenance practices that can help mitigate foreign material risk in food handling transfer areas:
Mepaco’s Meat Processors opt for dumping equipment features that provide the highest level of personnel and food safety, including:
Apache routinely conducts tests for customers and in-house studies on the benefits of electropolished surfaces on food contact surfaces.
Highlighted above, is a study that compares high-end finishes under 200X magnification:
It shows the RA (Roughness average) reading in four finish examples of 304 stainless steel. In the study, the electropolished finish is more than six times smoother that the bead blasted finish.
What makes this study significant is that food processors can leverage electropolished surfaces to increase food safety performance. Our customer’s who choose electropolished food contact surfaces tell us that food safety is significantly enhanced, and sanitation efficiencies are realized in time savings and water usage.
We received a request for a maintenance audit on a high volume meat processing line that is a supplier to fast food restaurant chains. The first round of inspection uncovered several maintenance issues:
A Pump Feeder motor kept tripping the breaker and caused constant down-time.
The gearbox bearings were bad and was causing excess loading. The gearbox was replaced which fixed the issue. Reducing down-time for that Pump Feeder.
Mixers on the processing line did not pull sufficient vacuum.
Both mixers had multiple vacuum leaks through cracked welds, worn out seals, incorrect seals and improperly installed seals The seals were replaces and the cracked welds were repaired which allowed the unit to pull required vacuum 2 minutes faster, decreasing cycle times.
Inspection uncovered possible catastrophic failure of the agitators.
Both mixers had agitators with cracked welds. They were repaired during scheduled maintenance.
Vacuum Stuffers were underperforming.
Two stuffers in the processing line were underperforming and producing poor quality product due to lack of vacuum. Both stuffers had worn out pumps that were rebuilt and worn out seals that were replaced. These changes gave the processor a 28% increase in throughput out of the stuffer and better-quality product without air bubbles.
The cost for the maintenance audit, including a detailed report was $2000, plus travel expenses. The result was savings in energy, down-time, batch turnaround and overall increased production. This processor in fact, contracts with Mepaco every six months for a maintenance audit to avoid unplanned delays and to make sure their line is running as efficiently as possible.
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Processors should be able to focus on critical operations and not have to worry about auxiliary equipment. That's what Mepaco's CD1000 Column Dumper delivers; a Column Dumper that is heavily built, engineered for easy maintenance, built to strict sanitary design standards, and like our processing equipment solutions, modifiable to meet specific production requirements.
The animation features a new option in Mepaco's Column Dumper, a 60 degree dump angle for applications where every particulate must be added to the batch.
For more information, download our Column Dumper Flyer.
Here's a quick infographic and guide with 7 common parts in food processing equipment that should be in stock for year-end / holiday shut-down maintenance.
1. Motors: Extra motors can prevent unnecessary emergency shut-downs and lost production.
LONG LEAD TIME
2. Agitators: Agitators are custom fabricated to your machine specification, and require longer lead time than typical parts.
3. Cylinders: Make sure you have cylinder back-ups, which can also have long lead times.
4. Safety Switches: Keep extra safety switches in inventory to reduce downtime.
5. Bearings: Mepaco's recommendation for bearings is 1 or 2 back-ups. Check to see if the bearing is a common stock item; if it is not common, plan for longer lead times.
6. Shaft Seals: Plan on 2 - 3 seals per shaft, depending on usage.
7. Gaskets: Gaskets are usually sold in bulk by the foot, check your inventory to make sure you have an ample supply.
If you want to review your parts needs, contact Monica Planasch, Mepaco's Parts Manager, at email@example.com.
We've developed an interactive PDF that includes industry news and best practices, paired with Mepaco's solutions and videos to help processors solve food safety challenges.
Look for these symptoms:
Mepaco equipment available with vacuum are Vacuum Stuffers, Thermablend Cookers and Mixer Blenders. If the cause cannot be determined, please call Field Services at 920-356-7334 for further assistance.
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