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FoodTech Report

Volume 7 Issue 2

Quick changeover, sanitation improve bottom line for milk powder processors

By Luc Plasschaert, filler-closer product line specialist, JBT FoodTech

Dry nonfat, whole milk and buttermilk powders are popular ingredients in many nutritional beverages and prepared foods because they are functional and economical. The global bakery, confectionery, dairy and meat sectors are increasingly utilizing powdered milk, and the United States leads the world in its production, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).


Approximately 10 percent of the world’s milk powder (equal to more than 700,000 tons) is manufactured at more than 80 plants in the United States, according to the USDEC. Forty percent of the milk powder produced in the United States is exported to countries around the world.

As demand increases, processors need robust, reliable technologies to ensure the high quality of milk powder, particularly for milk powder used in the production of infant formula. JBT FoodTech SeamTec closers can meet these needs while positively affecting a milk powder processor’s bottom line.

Capacity and reliability

Processors often utilize milk powder ingredients in prepared food formulations because they offer the nutrients and flavor of fluid milk, but can be more convenient to transport and have a shelf life of up to 18 months.

SeamTec™ closers for powder applications are ideal solutions for milk powder processors because they provide efficiency in closing with less downtime.

SeamTec closers meet the milk powder industry’s strict sanitary standards for food safety, while meeting processor’s needs for lower maintenance, higher uptime, easy cleanability, faster can format changeover, reliable performance, and enhanced operator comfort and safety.

Recently, a U.S.-based milk powder processor favored the robustness, quick changeover and hygienic design of the SeamTec closer when it selected JBT FoodTech to replace its existing closers and optimize the processing lines at its facility in Mexico. Through improved efficiency, the processor desired to achieve the product throughput it needed to deliver the best results on time to the market. 

The processor’s issue was that its existing closers did not have the capacity or reliability to keep up with increasing production volumes, which affected the facility’s ability to keep up with market demands. Changeover times between can formats of more than three hours had also reduced line efficiency.

The SeamTec 203B2 closer fit the processor’s needs for robustness, quick changeover and hygienic design. With three seaming heads, the closer offers a speed capacity of 300 cans per minute. Each diameter changeover requires less than 90 minutes.

With the addition of SeamTec closers at the end of its lines, the milk powder processor was able to increase production and meet its customer’s deadlines for product delivery. A manager at the Mexico plant said the SeamTec closers are the most productive and efficient pieces of equipment the processor has in the entire facility.

Inspired innovation and design

The sanitation benefits of SeamTec closers extend beyond the stainless steel material and rounded edges to the active prevention of powder spills and wasted product.

No-spillage stopping lifters avoid powder overflowing from the can and onto the rim. Without these no-spillage lifters, powder on the rim can cause the can to be closed with a fat seam or prevent the can from closing properly. A fat seam can cause a reaction of oxygen with the fat contained in the milk powder, resulting in the rapid loss of quality.


Stainless steel and rounded edges make SeamTec™ closers easy to clean, while no-spillage stopping lifters prevent powder from overflowing onto the rim of the can.

SeamTec closers also feature an infeed screw instead of an infeed chain, eliminating the need for lubricant, which loose powder can stick to when it is exposed.

In addition to these safety features, JBT FoodTech seamers operate with a revolving can process that produces higher-quality seams and enables the seaming of thinner, harder, double-reduced cans.

Suggestions and ideas from processing partners often are the inspiration for continued innovation and upgrades to JBT FoodTech equipment. For example, a 90-minute average diameter changeover for SeamTec closers is manageable to switch can size formats. But customers who work with multiple can sizes had mentioned to JBT FoodTech that the ability to execute an even quicker changeover while retaining quality could have a significant impact on their bottom line.

In response, JBT FoodTech created the SeamTec COMBI closer, which features multiple seaming heads set for two different can diameters. The ST204 COMBI has four heads and capacity of running 200 cans per minute, and the ST206 COMBI has six heads and can run 300 cans per minute. Because the seaming heads are permanently installed, changeover is less than 30 minutes.

Whether the milk powder is sold on retail shelves to feed infants, used as an ingredient in prepared or frozen foods, or eventually reconstituted to fluid milk, powder processors need reliable equipment that provides the sanitary design they can count on to produce high-quality products. Technologies specific to powder lines enable processors to accommodate increasing demand of milk powder production — now and in the future.

To learn more about SeamTec closers for powder applications, visit the JBT FoodTech Web site.

SeamTec is a trademark of JBT Corporation.

©2009 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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