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Cleaner cooking with steel belts

Cleaner cooking with steel belts

Steel belts from Belt Technologies cook meat up a treat.

Food processing industries across the globe are rapidly growing and changing with fast food production, in particular, experiencing many challenges. Amongst these challenges are a tightening of the already strict standards for food production, with greater emphasis on hygiene, coupled with the need to reduce the production costs and have shorter set up time, those companies involved in food processing seek new innovations and system improvements that may promote greater productivity and flexibility.

Belt Technologies Europe, the market leader in steel belt technologies, has worked closely with Justech of Sweden and partners to produce an innovative method of cooking and transporting meat products. 'Inducook' is the brand of new cooking equipment developed by Justech AB, Sweden. The technology is primarily based on traditional industrial contact cooking methods but in this case the product is transported between two stainless steel conveyor belts (an upper and lower) coated with high quality non-stick coatings.

The advantage of this system over similar contact cooking methods  lies with the Inducook solution  approach of applying heat to the belts. Currently, cooked food production relies on traditional heating methods  such as electric resistance heating, gas heating, oil recirculation heating and similar. All these traditional methods come with a their own particular set of drawbacks, such as emission generation, high power consumption, machines that are typically difficult to clean and maintain, and the use of non-renewable  energy resources.

Justech AB engineers, working closely with Belt Technologies Europe, has developed a system of induction heating in combination with coated steel belts, resulting in a meat cooking system designed for today's demanding food processing factory. Inducook is a greener solution that ensures high product quality with stringent hygiene levels.

Up until now, Justech AB engineers have  tested  a  wide range of  food products that can be cooked with Inducook. They have already had success with the processing of the most common fast food meat products  such bacon, hamburger and kebab meat. The meat  product is cooked rapidly and thoroughly, saving on processing times and giving peace of mind that food is cooked to the correct temperatures for the right length of time. New design innovations and other products are planned in the near future.

The Inducook unit cooks the product between two induction heated non-stick coated stainless steel conveyor belts; these are heated with induction coils. Induction coils are positioned  underneath both - upper and lower stainless steel conveyor belts. The quality and grade of stainless steel is integral to the success of this system. The grade of steel used in this case has excellent thermal properties , allowing rapid and almost instantaneous heat transfer, facilitating quicker cook times and tight control of the cooking process. As the stainless steel belt comes into contact with the varying magnetic field, generated by the induction coils, the field induces an appearance altering eddy current within the belt material. This eddy current flow, within the magnetic stainless steel belt material, works against the electrical resistivity of the metal, allowing precise and localised heat to occur.

The meat product is transported through the gap between the two conveyor belts; the meat is thus both transported and cooked safely to perfection simultaneously. The Inducook system maintains the temperature in the steel belt at correct levels to ensure the meat is cooked perfectly.

The Inducook cooking method gives many important advantages over other heating solutions used today:
  • Hygiene - the equipment meets the highest food industry hygiene standards. The non-stick coatings applied by Belt Technologies to its stainless steel belts are FDA approved for food contact and provide a hygienic, quick and simple method of cleaning. Both the stainless steel belts are easily removable. Since induction heating is a non-contact heating, robust electrical components have been designed to resist water contact during the cleaning process.
  • Cooked meat quality and systems productivity - by using induction heating, it is very easy to control correct temperature levels. Another important feature lies in the fact that it takes only few seconds to switch between different products. This is a big advantage over similar contact cooking methods, offering the advantage of higher productivity. Set up time is therefore kept to a minimum.
  • Non-stick - Inducook's thin stainless steel belt has an FDA approved non-stick special coating. This makes it possible to cook a whole range of different meat products without them adhering to the belt. The non-stick coating is abrasion resistant enabling simple but thorough post-cooking cleaning and maintenance to be carried out. The flat nature of the belt, unlike wire belts for example, will not impart any marks on the product being processed. This gives a better presentation of the food cooked.
  • Green thinking and improved environment - unlike other heating methods, the Inducook system is both cost effective and environmentally friendly. Induction heating is considered a very green solution, as the power consumption is far more regulated and is therefore less wasteful than other heating methods. The controllability and fast reaction times reduce the overall power consumption during the initial start-up production run. The system is quiet, eliminating noise pollution making for a better working environment.
  • Energy consumption reduction - the induction heating method converts up to 90% of electricity into useful heat. The stainless steel belt material in this application has a maximum working temperature of 425°C.
  • Extended belt life time - using similar cooking solutions, frequent replacement of cooking belt is often required. The steel belt system is designed to maximise the belt life as in this system the steel belt life should be well in excess of 1,000,000 cycles with this fact it is possible to keep the service costs to a minimum.
  • Other benefits - no open flames, no odours from burning heating materials, and relatively compact units. The steel belt thickness of 0.3mm, allows the use of smaller pulley diameters, thus saving space in machine design and reducing over costs.

Inducook's development success can be attributed to the fact that Justech AB has built up strong and solid partnerships. The key to the success of the Inducook project can be seen in the valued working relationship between Belt Technologies Europe and the  trusted customer/partner Kalmar Kebab AB and together with MagComp AB. This is a wonderful example of collaboration between machine builder, belt supplier and end user - a strong team which has brought about this unique cooking concept, bringing with it significant innovation in fast food production.
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