The Tetra Pak Extrusion Wheel, which can be added to existing lines, uses a vertical rotating design that moves continuously at a synchronized speed to the line, to produce up to 12,000 products per hour per lane, double the currently available maximum capacity.
The new equipment also reverses the traditional method of stick ice cream production: rather than inserting the stick into the ice cream at the end of production, it is there from the start, so the ice cream with large inclusions is then filled around it. This maintains the position of the stick as well as the integrity of the inclusions – which can be up to 25mm in diameter.
The wheel design includes moulding cavities that also ensure uniform product shapes and a smooth surface every time.
Paal Otto Hennig-Olsen from ice cream producer Hennig Olsen Iskrem said the Extrusion Wheel allows his company to be more responsive to fast growing consumer trends for novel and high-quality products.
“The flexibility to adjust production capacity and adapt recipes to meet tastes and flavor preferences in different markets has also helped give us a competitive advantage,” Hennig-Olsen said.
Three different concepts were tested as part of the design of the equipment: ultrasonic cutting, the inclusion-free zone and the vertical rotating wheel.
The new extrusion wheel, which has two pending patents, also solves the problem of precise placement of ice cream products on the stainless-steel trays of the extrusion line. Since the wheel can be positioned very near to the tray, the products are not dropped, but rather laid onto the tray.
The new design does not require liquid nitrogen cooling and cutting, due to a continuous piston movement that pushes ice cream from the cavity.
Growth in ice cream
Elsebeth Baungaard, Tetra Pak product and concept manager, said the ice cream market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.8% in value, and 2.2% in volume between 2017 and 2022, mainly driven by premium single-serve ice cream products with new flavors and recipes.
“We look forward to seeing how our new extrusion wheel helps customers create novel and exciting products on their existing lines, with flexible capacity and the highest quality, all at the lowest cost per product in the industry,” Baungaard said.