Calculating capacity requires careful analysis. Focusing on the wrong stock-keeping unit (s.k.u.) or product type could result in a freezer that’s the wrong size, said Andrew Knowles, division product line manager, JBT, Inc.
“It is important to make sure the target ‘instantaneous’ and ‘daily packed throughput’ values are based on the highest volume products,” he pointed out. “In many instances, too much emphasis is placed on the largest product or most difficult product to freeze.”
With spiral technology, bakers should consider the dimensions of both current and potential future baked goods.
“A muffin is shallow and doesn’t need as much clearance vertically, but another cake product might be taller,” Mr. White said. “The size of future products should be a part of your thinking so the belt widths and product heights are taken into account.”
In a greenfield bakery, he added, take the opportunity to prepare for the future and avoid shoehorning in additional production or even costly structural modifications.
“When we’re looking at a design, where are you locating the next line? Put it in the drawing,” Mr. White said. “If your budget allows for it, leave room for it, buy a bigger building. Plan on expanding. Take an option on the building next door.”
If floor space becomes an issue, height can be a baker’s best friend.
“When you are building a greenfield facility, you want high ceilings to expand vertically so you have more room to add production capacity on the floor,” Mr. White suggested.
With brownfield facilities, options can be more limited. JBT works with customers to identify the scope of the project and assess the true costs associated with upgrading an existing building.
“While it can be tempting to overpromise on lead time, installation time, start-up time allowances and capacity to win an order, JBT takes care in conveying to our customers’ realistic and practical timelines,” Mr. Knowles said.
Project managers, applications engineers and installation supervisors regularly conduct onsite reviews of the available space and staging areas. Moreover, Mr. Knowles recommended that bakers confirm the doorways and pathways allow for moving equipment through the facility.
“Ensure the project is scoped out correctly to avoid hidden costs and scope creep during the execution and installation phase,” he added.
Mechanically, Mr. Knowles said, make sure the refrigerant feed method, refrigeration line sizes and the refrigeration system handle the initial low load and subsequent ramp-up period as well as potential long-term needs.
“In many instances, companies can oversize the freezer heat exchanger, airflow and enclosure to allow our customers to add belt or additional capacity in the future,” he observed.
Cryogenic freezing technology provides additional throughput in a minimal amount of space, said Erik Fihlman, program manager, baking and prepared foods, Linde L.L.C.
“Cryogenic freezers can be installed easily with minimal infrastructure and capital,” he explained. “This allows bakers to launch products quickly without the long lead times of installing large mechanical freezers. Cryogenic freezers can also be used by bakers to ‘boost’ capacity of existing freezing lines. They are relatively small but can make a big impact. Giving an ‘assist’ to mechanical freezers can also increase overall refrigeration capacity to handle peak loads and sustained production increases.”
To reduce initial capital investment, Mr. White suggested installing the refrigeration system near the blast freezer.
“Think of where that engine room is and where to locate it under your [future] expansion,” he noted. “Every foot of refrigeration piping and insulation is expensive today, so you want the refrigeration engine room very close to the where the process is happening.”