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Cooker-cooler reduces change-over downtime, says manufacturer

By George Reynolds , 21-Dec-2006

A new cooker-cooler can speed-up change-over times. reducing downtime, its manufacturer claims.

Lyco claims its new Clean-Flow technology in its cooker-coolers significantly reduce the cleaning change-over on short runs to as low as 15 minutes, and on a totally automated mode without the need for manual labour.

Food processors are constantly trying to find ways to speed-up change-overs, clean-ups and turn-around times as a means of increasing productivity and cutting costs.

They are moving to lean manufacturing, to reduce waste, by incorporating shorter runs, faster change-overs and smaller inventories. However, where processors reduce waste with lean manufacturing, they lose production through downtime consumed by change-overs. Cleaning the equipment during each change causes production line bottlenecks.

Processors, previously used to running one product through a process line continuously all day, now may be running different products every day and multiple products during the same day. However, the number of change-overs is limited by change-over time.

On a standard commercial cooker-cooler rotary drum, it would typically take two hours to complete the cleaning for a line transition, Lyco claims.

This makes it impractical to execute more than one transition per eight hour shift.

The Clean-Flow equipment can accommodate for as many as two product changeovers per hour, or 16 changeovers per shift, claimed Dave Zittel, Lyco's founder.

"Sanitation and clean-up times are factors that have become critical to food processors," he said. "This design revolutionizes the processing industry that blanches or cooks products in rotary drum blanchers."

The Clean-Flow cooker-cooler uses Lyco's rotary drum system which provides water injection for agitation that keeps the product in uniform suspension while moving through the unit.

The Clean-Flow uses a screw similar to what is used in a screw blancher. It resides in a stationary wedge-wire screen that holds the screw from the three to nine o'clock position at a tolerance between the screw and the screen less than one-half a grain of rice, the manufacturer claims.

The water agitation injected through the screen keeps the product off the floor of the screen, where it is maintained in total suspension. Damage to fragile product is a fraction of one percent, and even less than in a rotary drum, claims Lyco.

Clean-up time is reduced from hours to minutes in the Clean-Flow design because the screw is totally exposed for cleaning, the manufacturer claims.

During clean-up the screen is released from its fixed position, and is continually rotated 360 degrees around the screw alternately exposing the interior and exterior of the screen to clean-in-place manifolds located in the cover of the machine. The screw can be rotated at the same time as the screen, again exposing all surfaces to the cleansing water sprays.

The type of product can vary clean-up times. Vegetable matter is relatively easy to remove, but products with starch - such as pasta, rice and sugar - take longer to clean. Clean-up times can be reduced as much as 75 per cent compared to conventional rotary drum blanchers, Lyco claims.

Lycos is one of the world's largest manufacturers of commercial cooking and cooling equipment for food processors.

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