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FoodTech Report

Volume 6 Issue 3

Research Report:
Pilot equipment lets processors take test drive

By Jeff Dahl, North American business manager for JBT FoodTech

Canned food
Most people request a test drive before purchasing an automobile. In addition to making sure the car runs well, they want to see if the seat and headspace are comfortable, how it handles at different speeds, and if the trunk is big enough.

In an ideal world, the same would go for purchasing food processing equipment; however, processors do not always have the luxury of testing before a purchase. When considering a new piece of equipment, it may be inconvenient to travel to another company’s facility to see the equipment in action.

“Processors might see an example of milk running on a filler they are interested in, but they may plan to use the equipment to can soups. It can be very difficult for processors to draw a connection between what they see as an example and what they envision for their own products,” says Jan Sundberg, technical applications engineering manager for JBT FoodTech.

However, for North American processors interested in the JBT FoodTech Unifiller, pilot testing equipment is available to bridge that gap and ensure that the filler is the right fit. JBT FoodTech specialists based in Madera, Calif., U.S.A., can travel to any processor facility located in North America with the Unifiller pilot filling station. The unit is a smaller version of the Unifiller and is used to help processors familiarize themselves with the Unifiller by using their own products. By testing their own products, processors can prove accuracy, determine valve configuration, optimize filling speed range and see filled product integrity.

Validation and personalization

The North American pilot filling station is in high demand, whether processors are interested in the Unifiller for the first time or for testing how new products can run on existing equipment.

Pilot Filling Station

Pilot testing equipment, such as the pilot filling station, is a smaller version of the real thing — in this case, the Unifiller. JBT FoodTech technicians can bring the equipment to a processor’s facility to conduct
fill testing customized to the processor’s product and specific application.
“Many times, we receive calls from processors who want to run a different product on an existing machine” Sundberg says. “Sometimes all they need is to change a small part in the valve to give them this ability, sometimes it is more. These things can be determined with a test on the pilot filling station and can be conducted without downtime on their filling line.”

Processors already running the Unifiller in their facility are always looking for ways to improve processes and offer products of the highest quality. When experimenting with new product recipes, the decision to offer a new food product will depend on whether it can be integrated into existing operations or will need new equipment capable of handling the new formulations.

Processors new to the Unifiller can utilize the pilot filling station to familiarize themselves with features such as the clean-in-place (CIP) system, which automatically cleans the fill station without manual disassembly. They can then run validation and accuracy tests on a variety of their products to determine the configuration that will deliver the best performance for their specific products. The option to perform fill testing provides processors with the confidence that the Unifiller can handle their difficult-to-fill product with increased accuracy, optimal quality and better line efficiency, prior to making a key capital purchasing decision.



Unifiller designs, including the number of valves required, are determined by the type of product and the speed at which the processor would like to run it. Nozzles and other parts can be custom-made to increase accuracy for even the most complex products. This can all be determined through testing with the pilot filling station.

By popular demand

JBT FoodTech has added two new Unifiller pilot units of Model XLU-001. One is housed at the Process Technologies Laboratory in Madera and the other is located at the FoodTech Process Laboratory in Sint Niklaas, Belgium. JBT pilot units can travel to any location in the world.

All six of JBT FoodTech’s food technology centers help processors develop many of the world’s most popular food brands. The centers’ food technicians are available to help processors conduct pilot- and full-scale testing, research and development, and personnel training. Pilot units also are available for other processing equipment, including the SuperAgi™ Multi-Purpose Laboratory Pressure Sterilizer, which was featured in Vol. 6, Issue 2, of FoodTech Report.

As processors continue to streamline their operations to better compete in a global economy, pilot testing will become increasingly valuable to save processors time and money when evaluating new product recipes for existing equipment or existing formulations on new equipment.

To learn more about filling solutions, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site. 

SuperAgi™ is a trademark of JBT Corporation.
©2008 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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