Articles

Types Of Food Processing Equipment

The process of changing raw ingredients into food, in a way, that can be consumed by humans or animals is termed as food processing. Generally, clean, slaughtered and butchered or harvested components are taken and are used to produce attractive and marketable food products. A broad variety of machinery and equipment, gages, instruments are used in the food processing industry. The role of engineer in the food industry has gained a considerable prominence over the past couple of decades. The food processing industry is extremely diverse, complex and evolved. There's a continual need for process innovation with the consumer market becoming more demanding and sophisticated. The consumer expects novelty, value for money, excitement and a product that is safe in tamper-proof packaging.

The equipment in food processing refers to processing machines, components, systems used to cook, handle, package, prepare or store food and food products. Although this equipment is primarily aimed towards consumability, preservation, palatability, few pieces of equipment also perform auxiliary or main functions such as preparation, handling and packaging. To execute the various unit operations necessary during a complete production cycle, such as separating, baking, mixing, freezing, washing and sealing, a wide range of food processing equipment are available. These equipments are employed to produce food and food product applications such as bakery goods to beverages and dairy.  The food processing equipments can be designed and constructed to handle solid, semi-solid and liquid products, in a batch-wise or continuously,  depending on the demands of the operation.

The optimal design and construction of the food processing equipment depends on the specifications and requirements of the particular food processing application.

Let's have a look at the different types of food processing equipment which are categorized depending on the common functions used in the food processing industry.

A) PREPARATION EQUIPMENT

1. CLEANING

Cleaning, grading, sorting, peeling or skinning are some of the unit operations employed by manufacturers during the preparation of raw material.

The cleaning process divided into wet and dry is done to remove contaminants and foreign matter from the surface of raw food material. The food processing equipment employed during this process are -

Wet Process :

  • Sterilizers (Sterilizing)
  • Ultrasonic cleaners
  • Soak/Floatation Tanks (Soaking)
  • Washing Systems (Washing)
  • Spray Washers (Spray washing)

Dry Process :

  • Screening Separators
  • Air Classifiers
  • Magnetic Separators

2. GRADING

This type of food processing is closely related to sorting and often precluding. We can determine the overall quality by assessing several food matter characteristics. The food processing equipment employed during this process are  -

  • Image Processors
  • Tungsten Lights
  • Laboratory Equipment

3. PEELING/SKINNING

To increase the overall quality or appearance of the final food product, inedible or undesirable material are removed by this food process. The food processing equipment employed during this process are -

  • Carborundum Abrasive Rollers/Bowls (Abrasion peeling)
  • Pressure Vessels (Flash steam peeling)
  • Stationary/ Rotating Blades (Knife peeling)
  • Conveyors and Furnaces ( Flame peeling)

4.  SORTING

The operation is quite similar to dry cleaning process. Based on a measurable physical characteristic, sorting classifies and separates contaminants and foreign matter from raw food material. Food processing equipment used during this process are -

  • Sieves/Screens (Size sorting)
  • Sorting Machinery
  • Machine Vision Sorting Systems
  • Sorting Conveyors
  • Disc Separators (Shape sorting)
  • Equipment used in dry process in cleaning.

B) MECHANICAL PROCESSING EQUIPMENT

Now that we have a brief idea with the preparation equipment, let's go to the next step of food processing i.e. mechanical processing operations which also has a numerous unit operations such as grinding/crushing, cutting and forming.

1. SIZE REDUCTION

The first unit operation done in the mechanical processing to reduce the average particle size of solid food matter through mechanical processes involving shear, impact or compression force. The type of equipments involved are -

Grinding/Crushing :

  • Roll Crushers
  • Jaw Crushers
  • Pressure Mills
  • Impact Mills
  • Strainers/Pulpers
  • Attrition Mills

Cutting/Chopping :

  • Slicing Machines
  • Knives/Blades
  • Meat Grinders
  • Band Saws

2. SIZE ENLARGEMENT

Mechanical processes such as agglomeration or forming, extrusion increase the average particle size of solid food matter. The equipments involved are -

Extrusion :

  • Twin-Screw Extruders
  • Non-Thermal Extruders
  • Refrigerated Extruders
  • Single-Screw Extruders

Agglomeration :

  • Pelletizing Equipment
  • Rotating Drums
  • Rotating Pans
  • Tableting Equipment
  • High-Speed Agitators

Forming :

  • Confectionary Molders
  • Bread Molders
  • Enrobing Machines
  • Pie and Biscuit Formers

3. HOMOGENIZATION/EMULSIFICATION

The average particle size is reduced and consistency of semi-solid and liquid food matter is increased. Types of food processing equipment are  -

  • High Shear Mixers
  • Emulsifiers
  • Colloid Mills
  • Homogenizers

4. MIXING/BLENDING

To achieve and maintain a uniform mixture, mixing combines and disperses two or more components into one another. The type of equipment depends on the food components form.

Fluid Mixers :

  • Anchor Mixers
  • Agitated Tanks
  • Paddle Mixers
  • Turbine Mixers

Dough/Paste Mixers :

  • Cutter Mixers
  • Horizontal Dough Mixers
  • Sigma-Blade Mixers

Solid Mixers:

  • Drum Blenders
  • Diffusive (Passive) Mixers
  • Convective (Active Mixers).