Full steam ahead: sauce maker doubles capacity

Process Plant Network Pty Ltd

Friday, 29 November, 2019

Full steam ahead: sauce maker doubles capacity

A patented Steam Infusion cooking technology has helped Australian food manufacturer PM Fresh grow its high-quality sauce business. This is the first installation of the technology in Australia following the announcement of the partnership between OAL and Process Plant Network (PPN) in early 2019.

A proudly Australian, privately owned company, PM Fresh specified multiple Steam Infusion Vaction Pumps to support production following a new contract win to make fresh chilled sauces. The company needed cooking technology that could increase production capacity within its existing facility while maintaining the high standard of product that its customers had come to expect.

While other technologies were considered, PM Fresh deemed Steam Infusion a superior process, as it met the company’s requirements by enabling the production of quality products without any burn-on contamination. With a complicated full line refit, the installation was completed successfully in coordination with PPN and other component suppliers to meet the tight timeline for their new product launch. In addition, OAL’s development chef flew in from the UK to support with recipe development and commissioning of the Steam Infusion system.

What were the challenges?

At the end of 2018, PM Fresh began to reassess its existing system capability following a new contract win to supply fresh sauces under licence for a global brand. PM Fresh was facing three key challenges:

Production capacity: The existing steam jacketed cooking kettles in the facility couldn’t meet the cooking throughput required. A single batch of sauce was taking over 120 minutes to cook because the steam jackets had to be run at a lower temperature to maintain the quality of heat-sensitive products, resulting in time and volume constraints.

Product quality: This was of the highest importance to both PM Fresh’s customer and the end consumer. PM Fresh needed to remove the risk of burn-on and quality issues, particularly with delicate cream-based sauces, while still increasing production throughput.

Timescales: As is often the case in the fast-paced food industry, a solution was needed fast: within 10 weeks!

Given these challenges, PM Fresh’s key objectives were to bring cooking times to under 60 minutes on all of their recipes to increase production capacity and deliver burn-free soups and sauces to ensure that their customer was happy with the product quality — all by the tight deadline set by their customer.

What was the solution?

Following a review period assessing Steam Infusion against other technologies, PM Fresh came to the conclusion that Steam Infusion was the best solution to meet their objectives thanks to a number of unique advantages that the cooking technology can bring.

PM Fresh facility.

The Steam Infusion processing environment adds more energy into products faster as steam is condensed into the product within the Vaction Pump ensuring an efficient energy transfer, cutting cooking times compared to steam jacketed vessels.

The gentle way in which Steam Infusion cooks products, despite the high velocity of the steam, ensures that heat-sensitive products are protected during cooking. The Steam Infusion Vaction Pump cooks from the centre of the vessel with no direct contact surfaces for liquid products to burn on to. What’s more, the partial vacuum vapour phase, coupled with the short residence times, prevents exposure to excess high temperatures, eliminating burn-on contamination.

Steam Infusion Vaction Pump in tank.

With on-the-ground support from OAL, the team managed to meet the product launch date. OAL’s processing experts designed the system while PPN retrofitted the Steam Infusion cooking lances into multiple cooking vessels, as well as installing the recipe control system and steam supply to complete the project. OAL Development Chef Chris Brooks flew out to Australia to support the installation and assist the PM Fresh team in the development of their recipes so they could optimise the results that Steam Infusion achieves, giving the team confidence to develop future recipes independently.

Key results

Working closely with PM Fresh, OAL and PPN were able to more than double the cooking capacity of existing vessels by reducing cooking times by over 50% and decreasing the cleaning requirements thanks to the lack of burn-on on the vessels. Product quality has not only been maintained, but even improved due to the enhancements that Steam Infusion can bring, meeting another one of the customer’s key objectives.

Bill Ryan, Trade Marketing Manager at PM Fresh, commented, “Given the time constraints, we relied heavily on the expertise provided by OAL to meet both the product specifications and the hard launch date. It was our pleasure to work with Chris Brooks, who came all the way from the UK, and we appreciate the crucial role of OAL in helping our business to achieve a successful product launch.”

For more information, visit: https://steaminfusion.oalgroup.com/.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/jackfrog

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