The technology group GEA has specified its process solution for flavor manufacturing and developed a new machine design as well as control and cleaning elements for the production facilities from the handling of raw materials right through to final packaging. With this, GEA helps flavor manufacturers to ensure the taste, consistency and repeatability of their products.

The goal is to create a flavor that mimics, as closely as possible, the real thing. But it’s not just the combination of raw materials that contributes to the taste result; the manufacturing process is equally crucial. Any variation in method can cause variations in a product that, for all companies, are unacceptable. GEA uses its 50 years of experience in the production of mixing, pumping, homogenization, drying and handling equipment to bring them together, to develop them and provide a consistent quality of the flavors.

Technology know-how ensures consistency

When producing flavors there is much opportunity for something to go wrong. An ingredient added too quickly into a mixing vessel, inconsistent temperature, insufficient mixing or incomplete homogenization can all have an effect further downstream that affects the outcome. Similarly, variations in oil droplet size, shearing or drying parameters can all have an effect that in some subtle way alters the product. All these parameters are critical to producing a consistent product. The process becomes more complex when 300 to 400 different flavors are produced on the same machinery. The control and automation should rule out deviations.

The new GEA integrated line controls all the individual unit operations precisely and, by doing so, controls the output. But repeatability is not just a question of adjusting a computerized control system. Achieving a consistent product also requires very precise engineering to allow the component parts of the line to work together in harmony. For example, feed systems must be calibrated specifically to match the capabilities of the mixer and the size of the mixer must be scaled precisely with the size of the dryer to ensure compatibility. 

Cleaning removes residues and odors

In order to comply with the hygiene regulations, every production plant must be cleaned effectively. But, as every flavor manufacturer knows, that’s not the whole story. Flavors and aromas can linger in equipment even after they have been cleaned to the most scrupulous hygiene standards. Any residue of the previous flavor can easily taint the next product, destroying the all-important consistency. To prevent this, GEA has done much more than provide an efficient rotating-ball cleaning system.

Getting the design right

With the overall concept, GEA has eliminated sharp edges or dead zones in the machines, pipework and valve systems, which even the smallest quantity of product could become trapped. Special materials have been carefully chosen to provide smooth internal surfaces to which product cannot adhere. The size of cleaning fluid tanks has been calculated to ensure that they hold precisely the right volume of medium to clean the whole system efficiently in less than four hours. Even gasket materials have been chosen to ensure that they do not harbor traces of product. These elements combine to ensure the efficiency of the CIP (Cleaning In Place) system making it efficient and enabling fast product changeover, reduced downtime, minimal waste and low use of water and detergents.

Sequenced production

There is also another key factor in maintaining repeatability. When producing multiple products on the same line it is critical that products are processed in the correct sequence to help prevent any tainting from one to the next. Purer flavors such as melon or strawberry, that are instantly recognized by consumers and are often consumed on their own, take precedence. Stronger flavors such as orange, garlic, chilli, curry, etc., that are usually mixed with dishes, come later. The control system on the GEA line is capable of not only managing the recipe for each product, but sequencing the production for maximum efficiency ensuring that after each operation the line is cleaned sufficiently. Deep cleaning can be performed at the end of the sequence before the program begins again. This also helps to minimize the use of chemicals and water and reduces plant downtime.

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