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FoodTech Report

Volume 9 Issue 1

Automated drying technology enhances produce coating quality, reduces energy costs

By Rob Goetz, Labeling and equipment R&D manager for JBT FoodTech

Fresh fruits and vegetables are washed and sanitized after they are harvested — a process that enhances food safety but can remove the natural wax coating from the produce surface. To lock in moisture and maintain freshness of the produce, a postharvest protective coating typically is applied. Two critical aspects in the coating application process ensure that the entire surface of the fruit or vegetable is covered evenly and that the coating is thoroughly dried and set. Without uniform setting or curing of the coating, moisture in the produce can evaporate causing dehydration, which can quickly deteriorate the overall quality of the produce and impact its marketability.

The JBT FoodTech Single Pass Dryer has been an industry standard for decades, offering the thorough drying process needed to properly cure produce coatings. Now, JBT FoodTech can help fresh produce processors reduce their dryer energy usage with the launch of the JBT FoodTech Smart Dryer™ system. The Smart Dryer system is an automated monitoring program that works with the patented Single Pass Dryer to maintain even heat distribution and increase energy efficiency. When operating a Single Pass Dryer with an integrated Smart Dryer system, processors can save approximately 20 percent per year on utility bills versus a standard Single Pass Dryer.

Smart Dryer System

 Smart Dryer system

The Smart Dryer system can optimize maintenance and operation of the Single Pass Dryer by utilizing microprocessor technology that monitors and controls dryer temperature and humidity, air duct screen cleanliness, process temperature and exhaust air. Gas controls, temperature sensors, humidity monitors and integrated exhaust volume control provide consistent temperature and humidity levels.

A touch screen user interface offers a visual display of the system’s functions and sensors, enabling maintenance personnel to easily monitor controls and quickly troubleshoot.

The touch screen features:

  • Indicators that turn from green to red to easily identify issues
  • A flashing display that alerts to service needs
  • One-touch temperature adjustment
  • An image of the physical dryer layout
  • Corresponding gauges that indicate when cleaning is needed
  • A visual alert system when dryer motors have faulted or are not in operation

Single Pass Dryer

The Single Pass Dryer utilizes variable heat control and warm air recirculation to maintain temperature throughout the dryer. High-velocity air uniformly covers the fruits and vegetables throughout the length and width of the unit, and thermal efficiency is maintained through consistent air recirculation and humidity reduction. Since humidity control is critical to dryer performance, a portion of humid air is exhausted during operation so the lowest levels of humidity are maintained during use.

In the first half of the drying cycle, wet fruit remains stationary on the conveyor to cure the coating application and remove any moisture. In the second half, produce can be rotated to complete the drying process and build shine. Since the produce dries in a single pass without transfers, the Single Pass Dryer minimizes peel damage and increases throughput.

Enhance dryer performance

The cumulative effect of the JBT FoodTech Single Pass Dryer and Smart Dryer system helps packinghouses monitor critical points in the coating process, while making efficient use of energy and ultimately resulting in cost savings.

The Smart Dryer system now comes standard with the Single Pass Dryer to automatically keep the dryer running at peak performance levels, with reduced operational costs and downtime. The Smart Dryer system also is available as an upgrade to existing dryers.

To learn more about postharvest produce handling and coatings, visit the JBT FoodTech website.

Smart Dryer™ is a trademark of JBT Corporation.

©2011 JBT Corporation. All rights reserved.

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