Anyone investing in a dosing system today wants to be sure that it can keep pace with future developments. From product diversification to small batches and biomonitoring, the increasing demands of consumers and the industry requires flexible dosing systems.
Complex products such as multi-layer desserts or swirled vanilla-and-chocolate puddings are real eye-catchers in chilled cabinets and fly off the shelves. To keep consumers excited, food manufacturers need to constantly adapt and renew their product portfolios.
As a result, product diversity and smaller batches are required. Dosing systems, therefore, have to meet very specific requirements while at the same time minimizing machine downtimes during changeovers.
Dosing systems need to be precise, flexible and easy to clean and retrofit. Compliance with current hygiene regulations such as 3-A Sanitary Standards (USA), EHEDG (European Hygienic Equipment Design Group) and FDA accreditation is essential. Manufacturers are also keenly interested in filling accuracy as they want to minimize food waste. However, there will never be 100% dosing accuracy with food because the properties of natural products such as yogurt will always vary. Different products, therefore, make different demands on dosing systems.
Whipped products such as mousse au chocolat have to retain their consistency during dosing and must not become liquid again. This means that the pressure exerted on the product during the dosing process needs to be adjusted accurately. When dosing whipped products, the primary concern, therefore, is to regulate and adjust process parameters such as the pressure in the product hopper.
More and more allergen-free products are coming onto the market, which puts an even stronger focus on hygiene requirements. More intensive cleaning processes are needed when changing products to completely remove even the slightest residue of the predecessor product.
Versatile dosing systems
Given today's extensive requirements and tomorrow's potential developments, it can be difficult to make the right choice for a dosing system. With a modular dosing platform including, for example, rotary slide, cone nozzle and flat valve, customers can cover many different food products on one system or even combine several dosing systems to fill multilayer products such as puddings with cream toppings, or to create patterns such as a yogurt with dots or swirls of syrup.
Most important, changing and cleaning of the dosing nozzles has to be quick and easy so that manufacturers don’t lose valuable time.
Seal-less alternatives are also available. This guarantees the highest dosing accuracy because there are no seals that could influence the dosing result as a consequence of wear. At the same time, changeover times can be reduced to a minimum as there is no need to replace seals when changing products. The seal-less design also requires just one general maintenance cycle per year.
The system of the future
The latest dosing technology even goes one step further: Self-optimizing biomonitoring not only determines the frequency and duration of the cleaning itself, but also becomes part of the overall product and factory planning process. Within this context, the system learns the optimum product sequence and makes its own decisions — a real step into the future of dosing accuracy.
Photo courtesy of Syntegon Technology.