• Slice me nice: The Natec FreeSlice processing machine.
    Slice me nice: The Natec FreeSlice processing machine.
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The latest equipment from Natec Network for batch processing, magnetic technology and additional modules for continuous cookers showcase the company’s range of plant equipment and products. This story was first published in Food & Drink Business May/June 2020.

Global packaging and processing specialist group Natec Network (NN) coined the term benchineering to describe the multidimensional approach that ties together the skills, experience and capabilities related to addressing plant, process and product needs within the NN group.

“With the benchineering approach, customers receive our expert support regardless of the stage of their business case and of their position in the industry.

“No matter if it is renovation or innovation, streamlining or expansion, well established producer or newcomer, we aim to exceed their needs and desires,” says Thomas Haas, MD at Hochland Natec/NN.

Natec specialises in filling and forming equipment for processed cheeses, including SOS (slice on slice – food service industry) and IWS (individually wrapped slices – retail).

Its FreeSlice and FreePack are intelligent, purpose-designed IWS and SOS forming and filling lines operating with high accuracy and minimal waste. According to Natec, the machines deliver well-shaped product; smooth production; minimised operation costs and wear and tear; and maximum pack off – accurate weight control, no trims, and reduced waste.

NN’s members – Australian cooking equipment manufacturer Gold Peg, Hochland Natec (Germany) and Natec (USA) – are established machinery and plant engineering specialists for the industrial food production sector.

Upstream from the Natec cheese forming and packing lines is processing equipment, which is Gold Peg’s area of specialisation.

Gold Peg designs, manufactures (in Australia), and installs direct steam injection cooking equipment that optimises production efficiencies and processes consistently high-quality end products in facilities around the world.

Its range is suitable for all products that can pass through a pump, such as processed cheeses, sauces, baby food, meat products pie filling and pet food, including products with particles up to 10 millimetres in diameter.

The company’s core products include batch and continuous cookers. The RotaTherm continuous cooker range offers versatility and accurate control over the cooking process for each product. For Gold Peg, this means lower ingredient costs; more consistent product thanks to better performance from fillers; less waste; and more profit due to centre-lining and on-spec production.

According to NN, its newest products use the latest technologies to drive greater flexibility and efficiencies for food manufacturers.

Shear smooth mouthfeel

NN’s new high shear batch processing system the ShearTherm combines all process functions in one system – high shear mixing, blending, powder hydration, cooking and de-aerating – for manufacturing a wide range of (food) products.

The ShearTherm is purposed designed to pre-mix, homogenise/emulsify and heat product up to 98°C.

The combination of a special agitator, a high-speed pre-cutter/mixer, a full vacuum system and different homogenisation units, each with variable speed, guarantees a very high reproducibility, short batch cycles and 100 per cent homogeneous and lump free products.

According to NN, the result is smooth spreadable products with a great mouthfeel (in part due to smaller fat globules).

It is suited for high powder concentrated and plant-based products including vegan and oil based products.

The required end product characteristics are achieved through the integrated high shear unit, the variable recirculation time and many other adjustable parameters.

Heating is by direct steam injection. Indirect heating is available via double jacketing.

Liquid dosing and powder loading by vacuum are standard options included depending on the requirements of the recipes.

Magnetic forces

NN’s magnet for emulsion M4E technology uses magnetic forces to continuously disperse ingredients and create smooth emulsions from mixing powders with liquids – water or oil.

It combines turbulent flow conditions with Lorentz force induced by a permanent magnetic field.

That environment means powder particles or oil droplets spin around, collide and ultimate break-up.

M4E is mainly a “one-pass” technology so once ingredients have passed the magnet, they are perfectly dispersed and or emulsified.

This delivers the fast, efficient creation of smooth emulsions in seconds without recirculating or any electrical load.

It is applicable for mayonnaise, sauces and purees and can create emulsions with particles.

It can also be retrofitted to replace a shear pump or provide emulsification in an existing line.

Strong finisher

One of Gold Peg’s core products is the RotaTherm continuous cooker range, which offers versatility and accurate control over the cooking process for each product. According to Gold Peg, this means lower ingredient costs; more consistent product allowing for better performance from fillers; less waste; and more profit due to centre-lining and on-spec production.

A new add-on module has been released, the Finisher. Gold Peg says it allows manufacturers to gain access to a new and growing market by producing high quality processed cheese and mozzarella from one line.

The Finisher allows for the production of mozzarella, pizza cheese, and pasta filata varieties with the RotaTherm continuous cooking system. Ingredients are heated in the RotaTherm and fed straight into the Finisher where stretching and working by special screws and mixer achieves the desired mozzarella structure of fibres and stretch.

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