The system strengthens the quality of the slurry mix and focuses on salty, baked snacks and extruded products that need flavouring in a tumble drum.
Different attitudes towards machinery
David Woollard, seasoning group sales manager, tna, told FoodProductionDaily.com the machine has only just been launched on the market after a number of pilot-tests and now it’s ‘going full steam ahead to sell it to manufacturers’.
It has received its first order from a large snack food producer in the US and one in the Middle East in Iraq, which was driven by its sales office in Dubai.
“The difficulty in selling a piece of machinery in places like Europe is that they think they know how to do it so trying to sell them a system that’s more expensive and different is a lot harder,” said Woollard.
“Most snack company’s in the US go by the attitude ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. There is a huge concern over the risk in changing technology.
“We are trying to get people to change their attitude on spending more money that’s why we’ve introduced it to markets that are a lot more amenable, such as Iraq.
“A lot of these markets like the Middle East, India, Russia and China have less preconceived ideas about technology. But, if you take a new product like this to the US or Europe, all the snack producers there know how it should be done or think they know how it should be done and have a preconceived perception. This system widens the scope of what we’re trying to achieve.”
Mechanical powder feeder
The tna intelli-flav 3 is a combination of automated continuous slurry mixing and controlled spraying.
Using bags of seasoning powder and a pressurised supply of oil, the system meters the ingredients to a specified recipe, mixes it using an under-surface mixing head, then applies the slurry to the products via spray guns.
The spraying accuracy is controlled by a displacement pump which measures the usage of slurry compared to required levels, adjusting it automatically for consistency.
“We use a mechanical powder feeder to metre the right amount of seasoning into the oil and we have taken it one stage further with a mixing head which feeds the powder down a tube - this means the powder is introduced directly to the mixing head and gets broken up, wetted and mixed so you don’t get large lumps forming around the dry powder,” said Woollard.
“It’s easier to control if it doesn’t have any lumps. We then feed it to our spray guns to atomise the slurry for a good dispersion of slurry into the drum, this reduces the need for long mixing drums. The machine is changing the whole process of how you apply slurry to a snack food.”
Woollard added the machine is ‘considerably more expensive than traditional ones’ but the ROI is ‘impressive’.
“It is more expensive than existing systems so there is a reluctance to buy it. There is a tendency for manufacturers to use an old system as opposed to moving to a new technology which increases capital costs. But, when you look at the usage of seasoning, which is extremely expensive, if you get it wrong you can increase your running and usage costs. It’s important to get it right,” he said.
“Before, spraying didn’t take off without the mixing but now we are bringing everything together and a higher concentration of flavour makes reduced fats more achievable.”