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Allpax puts R&D retorting to the test

By Jenni Spinner+

12-May-2014

Allpax's Versatort is a full-size R&D retort that handles rotary and reciprocating jobs.
Allpax's Versatort is a full-size R&D retort that handles rotary and reciprocating jobs.

Allpax’s Versatort unit enables food processing operations to test retort on a full-sized machine, promising reduced waste and flexible performance.

The Versatort is a 5-foot-diameter, single-basket retort offering multi-mode and multi-agitation operation. The machine gives food personnel the chance to test projects in the laboratory environment before taking a product to the full-tilt production level.

Flexible performance

Greg Jacob, vice president and general manager of Allpax, told FoodProductionDaily the Versatort meets the diverse needs of most food operations.

We call it the Swiss Army knife—it’s an all-in-one machine,” he said. “Most of the large food producers have a little bit of everything; there are some steel cans, glass jars, soups in pouches—this machines covers all of those bases.”

The retort is geared toward food firms and contract packaging operations handling several different types of packages. Rotary agitation typically is suited for vertically oriented packaging like cans and jars; reciprocating agitation is more appropriate for horizontally oriented containers, such as pouches and bowls.

Operators can run static processing on the Versatort; the machine also facilitates rotary agitation in a 32-inch cube basket, and reciprocating agitation in a 40-inch cube basket. The range of processing modes include saturated steam, water spray, water immersion, and steam-air.

Full-size retort

Food processing operations frequently run R&D retort units, but much smaller than the Versatort. According to Jacob, the full-scale size of this retort can cut down on downtime and product waste.

With small R&D machines, there’s always going to be significant tweaks when you take it from that scale, to full scale production,” he said. “There’s a lot of grief to go through—you have to run these big batches, make adjustments—the whole process gets very expensive.”

Quick change

Jacob told FPD other features setting the Versatort apart are flexibility and simple changeover.

It’s the first retort on a production-size scale that can change from rotary to reciprocating; that’s big,” he said. “Our team came up with some clever changeover parts, like special latching on the baskets to make them very friendly to the R&D lab; you don’t want to have to go through a three or four-hour changeover, with wrenches and tools.”

Jacob explained the basket in the Versatort is easy to remove and reposition. The rotary and reciprocating modules are mounted on carts that can be moved into position quickly, so the appropriate module can be bolted into place; the idea is to give personnel an ergonomic method to switch between the two and save laboratory floor space.

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