Marel (Iceland) - Press Release: Superior distribution of frozen products.
IQF stands for individually quick frozen product. In the poultry industry, frozen product has not the biggest focus. But when required or when there’s a surplus of products, freezing comes into play. The IQF process is often totally separated from the fresh product flow, in its own ‘parallel universe’. Marel’s new Multihead Weigher IQF Large can fulfill an important role in that universe.
In a poultry processing plant, day-to-day production totally depends on that day’s customer orders. Suppose the supermarket didn’t sell as much as expected the previous day, then the next day’s order will be smaller. So incoming orders can vary considerably and a plant must be prepared to freeze products remaining.
Fresh or frozen:
Frozen end products are processed differently to fresh meat, in a different area in the factory. Just before the packing process, they are diverted from the ‘regular’ product flow, to go through a big wall of spiral freezers. Such freezers can handle up to 6 tons of product an hour and can rapidly cool products to minus 18°C [0°F]. Coming out in the cold room on the other side, frozen products are conveyed to the multihead weigher to be fixed-weight batched and packed.
Frozen products are mainly packed in bags of one or two kilos. Subsequently, five or ten such bags can be packed in a 10 kilo [22 lb] carton box and put in storage.
The IQF market:
Usually, poultry processors promote fresh products in order to protect their domestic sales channels from foreign competition. When selling frozen products there’s a lot of competition, as transport and storage times are irrelevant. The market is open to everyone in the world trying to sell IQF products. Brazil and the USA are the world’s major frozen product exporters. Brazilian processors face logistical and climatic challenges making it difficult to sell fresh products domestically. Fresh production makes up only 20% in Brazil with 80% being frozen. Processors tend to freeze chicken fillets already packed in trays and sell them to national supermarkets. Their large export market is not surprising. For the USA, it’s basically the same. They also export a lot of products, mainly leg quarters to Latin America, Africa and Asian markets.
Multihead Weigher IQF Large:
The new Marel Multihead Weigher IQF Large can weigh and batch large capacities of all sorts of poultry cuts. Thanks to its rotating center cone (instead of a vibrating cone), product distribution to the feeders is superior to all other IQF multihead weighers on the market. Vibrating feeders using Marel’s Automatic Feeder Adjustment (AFA) allow the unit to operate at maximum capacity with consistent weighing and precise distribution to the hoppers. Another remarkable characteristic of the MHW IQF Large is a reduction in noise levels. Usually, moving pieces of frozen meat makes a lot of noise, as do the mechanics of the machine. By using soft chute material, for example, Marel has succeeded in making the factory environment around the IQF Large considerably quieter. It is a robust, reliable machine with big 12-liter hoppers for the largest frozen products. It boasts six additional hoppers compared to Marel’s regular IQF multihead weigher, giving a total of 20 hoppers and, depending on batch weights, it can handle up to 8,000kg/h IQF products such as whole legs, leg quarters, thighs, wings and drumsticks. The MHW IQF Large is ideally suited to countries such as Brazil, USA and South Africa, where large capacities are common and six-ton freezers are used.
The Multihead Weigher IQF Large can use a divider to run split batches of different products, such as thighs on one side and drumsticks on the other. The freezer distributes the products onto a divided conveyor, which leads to the top of the Multihead Weigher IQF Large. The mechanical splitter simulates a 2x10 hopper machine, allowing for fixed-weight batches to be packed separately. With the addition of the Multi-Job Software module, up to six jobs can run simultaneously, even if packed differently.