Modern food production relies heavily on food processing and handling technology, which enables the conversion of unprocessed agricultural resources into a variety of high-quality, nutritious, and safe food products that can satisfy the population's burgeoning needs.
Let’s discuss some historical background. In 1795, Oliver Evans invented the first appliance for processing food. It was a grain mill that ground grain using steam power. Later, in 1820, in Boston, Massachusetts, a commercial food processing facility opened its doors and created corn cans.
According to Extrapolate, the market for food processing and handling equipment is anticipated to be worth USD 192.09 billion by 2028. The development of sophisticated equipment and systems that automate many of the steps involved in food manufacturing, from washing and sorting raw ingredients to packaging the finished product, is facilitated by the rising demand for packaged, processed, and convenience foods.
This has improved the productivity of the food industry while also preserving the food's safety and quality. Food processing and handling equipment have become essential tools in the food business as they enable producers to create a variety of goods while assuring high quality, safety, and consistency.
This blog will explore the most recent innovations and methods that have transformed how we manufacture, package, and transport food. We will also delve into the intriguing world of food processing and handling equipment. So, keep on reading!
How Do Different Types of Food Processing Equipment Work?
The production cycle for food processing can be divided into a number of stages, each of which serves a distinct purpose and is characterized by the execution of unique unit operations. Given below are some processes and equipment required in the food processing sector.
- Equipment Required for Food Preparation
The machinery and processes used for cleaning, sorting, grading, cutting, chopping, mixing, and blending food materials before the food product is formed are referred to as preparation equipment in the food processing industry. Depending on the food product, the tools needed for producing it might vary significantly, but this process often involves devices like slicers, dicers, choppers, mixers, blenders, peelers, and grinders.
These types of preparatory equipment are made to increase the consistency and efficiency of food handling while ensuring the finished product's security and quality. Each preparation tool's precise operation in the food processing industry depends on the machine type being utilized as well as the specifications of the food product being prepared.
- Equipment Used in Heat Processing
In order to get rid of germs that could ruin food or spread diseases, heat processing equipment in the food processing industry exposes food products to high temperatures for a set amount of time. This is accomplished using a variety of methods that involve heating food items to different temperatures and processing durations, such as baking, frying, canning, pasteurizing, and sterilizing.
Depending on the machine type and the chosen thermal processing technique, the particular mechanisms of heat processing equipment can vary. Industrial Steel Treating Company, Inc. is a custom manufacturer and finishing service provider that offers heat treating services to industrial steel tool & die manufacturing and the automotive industries. In addition, it provides annealing, normalizing, controlled atmosphere gas carburizing & carbonitriding, and stress relief, among other services.
- Equipment Required for Food Preservation Equipment
The purpose of preservation equipment in the food processing industry is to reduce or stop the growth of microorganisms that lead to food spoilage or disease. This is done by removing or reducing the moisture, heat, and oxygen content of food products. Dehydration, vacuum packaging, freezing, high-pressure processing, and irradiation are a few examples of preservation techniques. Microorganisms, enzymes, and other agents that can cause food to spoil can be eliminated using these techniques.
Depending on the type of machine being used and the preservation technology being applied, the specific mechanisms of preservation equipment can vary. For instance, equipment used in dehydration removes moisture from food items by applying heat and airflow, whereas equipment used in vacuum packaging removes oxygen from packaging to prevent bacterial growth. Food preservation equipment is generally created to guarantee the nutritional value, safety, and shelf life of food products.
- Equipment Used For Food Packaging
The packaging equipment used in the food processing business provides a protective covering or container that shields food products from physical damage, oxygen, moisture, and microbial contamination. Packaging equipment can range from manual systems to fully automated technology, depending on the size and needs of the food production operation.
Packing equipment typically include machines that fill, seal, label, and wrap packages. These devices may use a variety of packing materials, including plastic, metal, paper, or glass. The specific mechanisms of packing equipment can change depending on the machine type and packaging technology used.
These tools, however, frequently work to improve packing effectiveness while maintaining the integrity and quality of the final food product. The efficacy of any packing equipment depends on the type of food product being packaged, the intended shelf life, and the storage and transportation environment.
Role of Robotics in The Food Processing And Handling Equipment Industry
The food processing and handling equipment industry benefits greatly from robotic systems. They provide various advantages like enhanced precision, increased productivity, and constant quality. Let’s discuss some of these major benefits of robots in the sector.
1. Improved Safety
Robotic cleaning and sanitization of food processing equipment, for instance, can help to stop the spread of foodborne illness. Every year, almost one in six Americans become ill from eating tainted food, and this costs about $15.6 billion to the country. Robots also help lower the possibility of cross-contamination.
2. Labor Shortages
Robots can help to cut labor costs by automating tasks that are now done by people. This might be a huge benefit for companies that process food, given the rising cost of labor. As demand increases without a corresponding increase in personnel joining the industry, filling these gaps is becoming an increasingly significant challenge.
3. Improvements in Food Processing
Robots at restaurants are a more recent development than those in the food processing industry, but they are already a familiar sight. Recently, an American restaurant chain, Chipotle introduced the "Autocado" robot to aid staff members in guacamole preparation. Autocado reduces the time required for this operation from the previous hour to half, potentially saving Chipotle millions of dollars every year.
The latest technological advancements, including robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), will be incorporated into food processing and handling equipment as they continue to evolve. More innovation in this area will be prompted by rising consumer demand for responsibly produced food and by strict food safety regulations.
Intelligent machines will continuously check food products for safety, uniformity, and quality from manufacture to consumption. Equipment for processing and handling food will also be made to minimize waste, increase resource efficiency, and minimize environmental effects.
How we produce, package, and consume our food will be further revolutionized by the use of innovative methods like 3D printing and nanotechnology. Food processing and handling equipment will play a crucial part in the transformation of the food business to ensure that we have access to wholesome, environment-friendly, and delicious food products in the future.