Nutritional Formula Plants

Process technology for nutritional formula plants

Every nutritional formula product and formulation comprises a mix of ingredients that has been precisely defined to fulfil specific dietary needs. Processing these products involves a major investment in key processing and auxiliary equipment. Manufactures expect reliable, trouble-free solutions that deliver consistent powdered and liquid products with exactly the right chemical composition and physical characteristics. GEA has built on decades of industry sector, technology and engineering expertise to develop smart, durable end-to-end solutions that work seamlessly together to maximize efficiency, and keep your processes sustainable, profitable and flexible.

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State-of-the-art process technologies

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Microbiological safety is a critical consideration at every stage of nutritional formula production, from ingredients reception through to final product packing. GEA equipment is manufactured to meet the most stringent hygiene requirements, and features automated, thorough clean-in-place (CIP) systems. We offer separators and ceramic microfiltration systems that physically remove heat-resistant bacteria and spores from milk and whey, with minimal impact on the nutritional components. 

Liquid nutritional formula products require an ultra high temperature (UHT) treatment to ensure sterility. GEA offers technologies for indirect heating, and for direct heating using either infusion or injection technology. Our solutions treat your valuable product gently, so that you can manufacture the safe, room temperature-stable formulations that consumers expect. Our technologies will ensure the highest consistency between batches, so you can be confident of a top quality final product and optimum organoleptic properties, including flavor, and visual properties, including color, every batch.

High shear mixing for batch or continuous processes

Mixing plays a key role in ensuring consistent processing of complex formulations. Our innovative MIXING FORMULA® system incorporates a high-shear mixer that introduces powder underneath the liquid surface to produce homogeneous, lump-free concentrates. We can configure MIXING FORMULA® solutions for either batch processes (BATCH FORMULA® Mixer) or continuous processing lines (INLINE FORMULA® Mixer). The GEA VARIVENT® POW shut-off valve features a full bore opening that prevents powder lumps blocking the inlet, and minimizes wear on the gasket, especially when incorporating abrasive powders. 

Smart evaporation solutions for water and heat recycling

Evaporation is a key step in removing the majority of excess water in the mix prior to spray drying. We understand that every manufacturer will have different requirements, so we have developed efficient, hygienic and energy-saving mechanical vapor recompression (MVR) and thermal vapor recompression (TVR) falling film evaporators for any layout, space and operating requirements. Our direct and indirect heating technologies reduce energy consumption, and are designed to ensure minimal impact on critical product attributes such as flavor, color, without causing denaturation of proteins and other nutritional components. Where possible, excess heat and water can be recycled for reuse elsewhere in the process. Fast evaporator system start-up and shut down times, and highly efficient, resource-saving CIP cycles further minimize down time and maximize productivity. 

Spray dryers for consistent, precisely defined powders

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Spray drying is a critical process that impacts on the final powder’s physical properties, from particle size and agglomeration, to powder density, solubility and stability. GEA spray drying systems have been developed to produce consistent, precisely defined powders, every batch. Our MSD® chamber, DDD® air disperser, and VIBRO-FLUIDIZER® external fluid bed are used as standard by our nutritional formula customers. 

Our optional SANICIP® bag filter technology can be configured to recover valuable powder fines from the cyclones and return them to the drying chamber. Additional options include our DRYCONTROL® technology for precisely controlling residual moisture in the final powder, and our POWDEREYE® instrument, which measures powder moisture, detects scorched particles, and determines bulk density as well as tapped density. The intelligent system automatically sends out-of-specification warnings to the operator, so process parameters can be fine-tuned, and costly out-of-specification production avoided. And to minimize down time we can configure dual feed line systems, so you can operate 24/7, to maximize productivity and derive speedier returns on your investment.

Powder handling and filling

Manufacturers want the assurance that all their powdered ingredients and final product powders are handled using hygienic, precisely controlled, safe technologies. GEA offers a range of highly configurable solutions that automate the handling and conveying of powders received in most packaging formats, including 25kg bags, flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBC) and rigid IBCs. Our gentle powder handling and filling systems minimize any risk of contamination, while maintaining nutritional, structural and stability properties. Accurate weight control reduces product loss, while dense phase vacuum conveying to powder storage units or mixing and blending plants reduces dust generation, so your environment remains safe, and cleaning and maintenance requirements are minimized.

We design and configure solutions that fit in with your process lines, capacity and throughput, so there are no upstream or downstream bottlenecks. Efficient, automated downstream pre-gassing, gas flushing and post-gassing solutions can be configured for different container types and combined with semi- and fully automatic powder packing solutions that match bulk and multiple retail packaging formats, to create a complete, integrated solution for modified atmosphere packing (MAP). 

Sustainable refrigeration for dairy processing

Maintaining the correct temperature is another imperative for all milk-based processes. As a single supplier for all nutritional formula plant solutions GEA offers world-leading refrigeration systems that maintain dairy-based nutritional formula ingredients and products under optimum conditions, while keeping your processes sustainable and reducing carbon footprint. Our green heat pump technology reduces water and energy consumption by upcycling waste heat. Benefits for our customers include less operating costs, waste and product loss.

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Project management for complete ease of mind

GEA’s dedicated project management teams oversee each project, from conceptualization to final commissioning of complete plants and systems. We take care of even the smallest detail, and make sure that every deliverable is achieved on time and on budget. Our experience means that our customers don’t have to worry about costly mistakes or delays, and can focus on their key business objectives. 

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