GEA has redesigned its market leading BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer to meet customer demand for the highest possible levels of efficiency, flexibility and hygiene and presents it at ANUGA FoodTec in Cologne from 20-23 March, 2018. While redesigning the mixer, GEA has been able to reduce its footprint by at least 25 percent compared with previous models. This now means that the equipment can easily be located within a plant, through normal door apertures, without dismantling.

The BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer has been trusted technology for manufacturers of food and dairy products – such as nutritional formula, food ingredients, cream cheese, yoghurt-based drinks, protein-based drinks, ketchup, sauces and mayonnaise - for many years. The equipment provides users with the opportunity to test recipes and processes ahead of full-scale production: proving product recipe, optimizing product functional properties, design large scale production process and product validation. This helps customers to prepare recipes and establish process parameters before investing in full-scale plant thereby bringing new products to market more quickly and profitably. The BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer can also be used for long-term, small-scale production or test group evaluation.

New design addresses four key areas: hygiene, flexibility, efficiency and footprint

The hygienic design has been updated to meet the strictest requirements of the food and dairy industry. This has been achieved through a series of detail changes. GEA has eliminated for example sharp edges and dead zones in the machines, pipework and valve systems, in 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 BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer now features direct steam injection. This improvement allows the equipment to be used for making soft cheeses and sauces that require steam injection as part of the process. This has increased the flexibility of the equipment allowing users to produce an even greater range of products on the same machine. Easy, efficient cleaning prevents cross contamination and product carry-over when switching batches. 

Wishing to optimize the design and functionality of the BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer, GEA scientists looked to

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to create a virtual prototype of the machine, more usually used when designing full-scale equipment. By running simulations of the flow of ingredients within the equipment, it was possible to develop a more detailed understanding of the process and analyze certain key parameters required to achieve a product with the desired structure. This allows the operation of the machine to be refined for maximum efficiency and to more closely harmonize with the results achievable on larger equipment. 

A key feature of the BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer is its integral CIP system (Cleaning in Place). This further reduces the overall footprint of the plant as no separate CIP system is required. Integral CIP makes product changeover faster and both water and chemical consumption is reduced to a minimum.

For many years the BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer has been the benchmark technology for processors that require the flexibility of small batch production with easy scale up and trusted GEA technology. While the redesign has improved some key features, the core functions of the mixer remain the same. These include: high-shear mixer combined with low-shear agitator in the same vessel and lowest point drainage for maximum product recovery. 

The GEA Vacuum System enables liquid/powder introduction below the blend surface, which reduces the processing time and limits issues with air incorporation and foaming. Ingredients are wetted more efficiently for fast processing and better mixing. These core functions combine to reduce batch cycle times, improve product homogeneity, increase shelf life and reduce time to market for new products.

GEA test centers in Denmark and Germany

The BATCH FORMULA® Test Mixer is itself available for testing at the GEA test center in DK-Skanderborg and DK-Søborg as well as in DE-Ahaus. This gives GEA customers the opportunity to test processes and recipes before putting them into full-scale production. The facilities and expertise in Ahaus also provide the opportunity to test down-stream processes (such as UHT with direct or indirect heat treatment technologies and CIP) to establish the performance of the whole production line. The results obtained can be faithfully reproduced at production level.

Claus Patscheider presented the GEA BATCH FORMULA® and GEA INLINE FORMULA™ mixers

These mixers are suitable for both dry and liquid solids. The INLINE FORMULA™ and BATCH FORMULA® can be used in different applications, e.g. dairy, beverages, food. Customers benefit from the GEA mixers technology, as the innovative mixing process avoids the unwanted addition of air to the product, which can lead to reduced shelf life.

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