We also have our weekly look at the global dairy markets with Liam Fenton at StoneX.
Research shows steam infusion cuts energy consumption by 17% per batch
New research in the UK spearheaded by the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), University of Lincoln, has found steam infusion can reduce energy consumption by 17% per batch compared to basic direct steam heating.
This can save 278 hours of production time, cutting nine tonnes (10 US tons) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per kettle production line each year.
The research, led by NCFM’s Dr Wayne Martindale and engineering company OAL’s development chef, Christopher Brooks, has been reported in a peer-reviewed paper, “Transformational Steam Infusion Processing for Resilient and Sustainable Food Manufacturing Businesses.”
Published in Foods, the team also found steam infusion can improve the quality of a variety of end products, meeting consumer demand for great tasting food and beverages with added green credentials.
According to the FAO, the global food & beverage industry accounts for one third of worldwide GHG emissions, and the recent release of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, has underscored the requirement for food manufacturers to accelerate their plans to reduce carbon emissions.
With many manufacturers signed up to net zero commitments, or at least reporting on efforts to reduce their environmental impact, the authors of the study said steam infusion can support businesses’ plans to incrementally cut emissions throughout their facilities. Also, the technology enables alignment to UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and SDG12 (Responsible Production and Consumption).
By realizing a reduction of 17% in energy consumption when using steam infusion, and achieving a similar decrease in GHG emissions, food and beverage manufacturers can make meaningful headway on the journey towards the worldwide net zero ambitions, the research said.
Also, by building carbon reductions into food and beverage manufacture through steam infusion cooking, in addition to schemes that off-set emissions with green utilities and land-based carbon sequestration, manufacturers can make an immediate difference in the fight against climate change.
Dr Wayne Martindale, Associate Professor, Enterprise & Food Insights and Sustainability at the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing and lead author, said, “This is a world first in terms of looking into the sustainability benefits of technologies like steam infusion. The most energy intensive parts of food manufacturing facilities are often heating operations so it’s really exciting to see how steam infusion can help to reduce the impact of the industry. In this report, we connect a manufacturing innovation to consumer experience and improved product quality with greater sustainability credentials – a win for manufacturers and consumers alike.”
Steam infusion is a cooking process that helps food manufacturers overcome many of the challenges they face when producing food and beverage products, from soups to sauces and dairy desserts, including burn-on contamination, variable product consistency and slow cooking times.
OAL’s Steam Infusion Vaction Pump uses steam as the motive force to simultaneously heat, mix and pump liquids with and without particulates, and can heat 1,000kg (2,204lb) of product from 15°C (59F) to 90°C (194F) in five minutes with no burn-on or particulate damage. It can be retrofitted into new or existing cooking vessels, or fitted directly into the line, and OAL said steam infusion delivers sustainability credentials with limited upfront investment and manufacturers typically achieve twice the cooking capacity compared with traditional methods.
Jake Norman, sales director at OAL, said, “We knew that steam infusion could help food & beverage manufacturers to become more energy efficient from anecdotal evidence but it’s great to have it confirmed in a peer-reviewed study. As manufacturers adjust their plans to achieve net zero goals, we’re confident that steam infusion can support them by delivering top quality products that consumers love with lower emissions.”
Martindale and Norman will be speaking at the Lincoln leg of the Zero Carbon Tour leading to COP26 in Glasgow, discussing how technologies such as steam infusion can help the food industry reduce its impact on the environment.
Signode highlights new innovations
Signode, a manufacturer of packaging, consumables, tools, software and equipment to optimize end-of-line packaging operations and protect products in transit, is highlighting its new advancements in automation solutions for the packaging industry at Pack Expo 2021.
“Our customers are increasingly looking to invest in smart automation solutions and Signode is responding,” said Eric Christensen, SVP packaging technologies, Signode.
“As our organization has for the past 100 years, we are collaborating with our customers to deliver new technologies and equipment that ensure faster throughput, and help them achieve greater profitability.”
New technologies the company is launching include enhanced StorFast AS/RS capabilities. The high density modular automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) features a full range of robot-based depalletizing, palletizing and material handling solutions. The newly-enhanced cart-based Storfast system now operates at twice the speed with improved control for acceleration and deceleration of the robotic carts. The newly enhanced Storfast components have improved robustness to handle pallets weighing up to 4,400 pounds.
Signode is also introducing a PackPoint automated packaging line with robotic integration. Signode’s integrated packaging systems include customizable options including case formers, product delivery systems, case sealing, printing, and label applications.
Also new are stainless steel general purpose strapping machines for the food industry. The company’s high-performance SGP strapping machines are designed to maximize productivity with up to 65 plastic straps per minute, designed for integration into conveyor systems or usable as a standalone solution.
The organization will also unveil new logos and brand identities for some of its most popular automation offerings, including StorFast AS/RS, Lachenmeier stretch hood machines, Octopus stretch wrap machines, and Little David case sealers.
“We’ve been very active in both broadening and deepening our integrated support models offered by our enhanced Packaging Plus service portfolio and technical staff,” said Christensen.
“Seamlessly achieving more automated lines and processes presents unique challenges - from consult and install to on-going service and maintenance -- to keep operations up and profitable.”