The spiral freezer is a common means of freezing or chilling a variety of food products including meat & poultry, frozen foods, baked goods and more. The freezer uses a conveyor belt which is rotated in an upward spiral as it passes through the box-shaped enclosure, or freezer. The air inside the freezer is cooled with either cryogenic or mechanical refrigeration, delivering high-velocity cold air across the product zone to rapidly freeze food. This method of freezing also helps retain food texture and flavor as well as other desirable properties of the product during production.
The problem with the spiral freezer, however, is that it is a significant user of energy, often due to a lack of automation, resulting in unnecessary waste and reduced product quality. Through Veregy’s work with food industry professionals utilizing spiral freezers, we’ve found a number of efficiency improvements which, when deployed, can reduce energy use by the spiral freezer while improving or maintaining product quality.
In addition to reducing energy consumption, these controls are highly responsive to changes in production line conditions. This flexibility reduces the need for manual setpoint adjustments, which can be prone to human error, leading to inconsistencies in box temperature and other freezer performance parameters. For example, if a line is changing over from one product that requires a low-temperature box to another that requires a higher temperature setting, the spiral freezer’s temperature setpoint may not be updated, causing the product to arrive at the customer with a warm (or soft) texture and failing quality checks. This not only costs the customer money in lost sales but can impact workflows for departments that must analyze and process the product, consuming valuable time and resources.
By integrating the spiral freezer control system with the refrigeration and processing equipment, VaCom Technologies’ technology automatically updates the spiral freezer parameters based on which product is being produced. We work with plant staff as a team to initially determine the optimal parameters for each product, and our direct support ensures that they’ll be able to continue to update these parameters themselves as new products are introduced into production.
The result is a more rapid chill, which helps reduce product loss while saving energy. In turn, this lowers the operating cost for each unit of production. This is especially important for products that require a long residence time in the freezer and for plants with limited floor space available for refrigeration. In addition, our patented vapor balance design reduces the time needed to transfer heat from the product to the box, further saving energy. It also minimizes air and moisture infiltration into the system, while conserving the cryogen and maximizing product yield. This combination of features leads to the lowest fan horsepower usage in the industry.