Set Up Your Frozen Meal Packaging Machine
Hunting around for your lunch in the Cortes Inglés or randomly at a grocery store, frozen food with diverse categories is frequently a preferred choice of a major part of consumers: from prepared fruits and vegetables, frozen pizza and frozen meat, to oven-prep and heat-and-eat meals. No prep, no mess, no clean up, with healthy and pre-portioned ingredients, no doubt that they can become so welcomed.
While you the guy sitting in front of the screen can either be the consumer or a person at the food manufacturing company, a secret behind these delicious food products is that packaging automation with frozen food can be dangerous.
In this article, we talk about the potential risks with packaging machines for frozen food and we will give a checklist for your reference to make sure your current or purchase-pending packaging machine is in compliance and qualified to work at a frozen food manufacturing facility.
Temperature – a Major Concern at a Frozen Food Manufacturing Facility
The treatment, processing, and packaging automation at a frozen food manufacturing facility must be reliable to withstand the low temperature there as well as the subsequent impact that such as humidity and mist may cause to the machine. To start with a review of what the environment is like at such a facility, Karl Seidel at Cablevey suggests that there are two popular methods for treatment and freezing nowadays:
The air-blast freezing method is to process the food when they are going through conveyors or tunnels where it will be exposed to the freezing flow of cold air at a temperature of -30°F or -34°C. This happens when the food has not been packaged. A concern here is around the moisture from the food products can be transferred into cooling coils on equipment around, especially on the surface of the machines’ steel cover.
The Cryogenic Freezing method adopts ultra-cooled materials such as liquid nitrogen or CO2 to cool down and freeze the food products. Liquified gas can cause a temperature as low as -195°C and which level the product will be frozen in an immediate manner. While after the freezing treatment, the food product will be then processed to a relatively low temperature of -20°C for subsequent processes, it is still a challenge for automated equipment to withstand.
Potential Problems for Packaging Machines at Frozen Food Facility
While basically all packaging machines are joined by pneumatic, mechanical, and electrical technologies, operating at a frozen food facility can present challenges to all of these sections. (Guy Lopes and Daniel Millar, 2019).
The first problem comes with the pneumatic system, for example, a cartoner machine should rely on the vacuum to pick carton blanks from the carton magazine, and in some cases, there would be some pneumatic cylinders, while the compressed air supply is generated through the solenoid and pneumatic valves, a potential risk to the pneumatic system is that the moisture contained in the air can be transformed into ice which will in turn damage the air system.
Then come to the challenges with the mechanical parts. Senyu Hu, the mechanical engineer at ÉLITER Packaging Machinery, once suggested that it is ideal to keep machines at a frozen food facility with minimum downtime. The concern here is that the considerable difference in temperature between when, for example, the servo motors and gear boxes were running and when they are reactivated after downtime in cold temperatures, will lead to error in their position and thus they should be reconfigured.
Another problem is with the electricals. While in the electrical enclosure, there are bunches of components such as servo converters and PLC which will generate heat when working when the exterior temperature is relatively lower, the mix of heat and cold air will dense the humidity and moisture and will damage the electrical.
Setting Up your Packaging Machines for Frozen Food
Either for the purpose to accommodate your packaging machines for low-temperature environments or to avoid risks and injury with your machine, especially with the electrical parts, you may follow the below steps to set up properly your packaging machines for frozen food.
Make sure they are with food-safety materials
This is the most basic requirement for all packaging machines implemented in the food industry. For the sake of food safety, make sure that your frozen food packaging machine is of heavy-duty structural steel construction with compliant AISI SUS 304 or even SUS 316.
Frozen food packaging machines should typically be IP65 protected, especially with the electrical enclosure and electricals exposed such as the servo motors. The moisture caused by the mix of cold air in the facility and the heat generated by working electricals will lead to the potential risk of water ingress. On the other hand, washdown procedures are quite common at food processing facilities. Being able to withstand water jetting is a must with food packaging machines.
Check with your electrical and individual components suppliers that they should offer from the beginning components made with IP65 or even higher standards. Try to adopt as well devices to reduce humidity and control temperature in order to keep electricals in the enclosure running at the ideal and stable temperature. This is critical to prolong and life span of frozen food packaging machines.
What We Can Do for You?
ÉLITER Packaging Machinery´s ¨Next-Generation¨ packaging equipment has reached the level to offer EU and EC standard packaging solutions even for those most rigorous situations of application, this is what those cheap steel sold by other manufacturers and middlemen in China cannot reach.
Our packaging machines for frozen food cover the cartoning and sleeving in the secondary packaging and are built on robust and solid stainless steel construction, without any galvanized or coated iron parts or tricks that some companies in the market may use to cover incompliant iron parts with SUS plate. Both our Next-Generation Cartoner and Sleeving Machine are built on a multi-axis servo structure to offer a higher performance level while keeping the structure as simple as possible which is ideal for food packaging applications. All of these features make them the optimized option for frozen food packaging automation with the best sanitization with ease of maintenance.
Contact us right now to request our frozen food packaging automation solutions for you!