High output of quality flavors demands efficient grinding

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Courtesy of Munson Machinery Company, Inc.

Vanilla beans from Madagascar, cinnamon bark from Sri Lanka, ginger roots from Nigeria and many other natural flavors you enjoy have likely come from Givaudan Flavors Corp. which extracts flavor from natural products, concentrates it, packages and markets it to food and beverage manufacturers.

Givaudan processes natural ingredients on a mass scale, placing high demands on its size reduction equipment, grinding upwards of 6000 lb (2700 kg) per hour of ginger root, cassia bark, or cola nuts, and cutting about 3000 lb (1360 kg) per hour of vanilla beans into uniform size chips — within relatively tight tolerances required for efficient extraction of flavors.

Overview of the process
Organic raw materials are forklifted to the second floor of the plant and dumped in any of four dumping stations terminating at size reduction equipment located below, on a first floor mezzanine. A Munson rotary knife cutter, a Munson SCC 30 rotary cutter, ahammer mill, and a roller mill reduce material to uniform size chips, presenting the best surface area for liquid extraction of flavors. After a bulk bag is filled with ground material, a chain hoist lifts the bag for emptying into one of several box extractors or 20-ft-high conical extractors. Liquid flavor is derived from vanilla beans, for example, at a 1:10 ratio, says Joe Bush, basic products maintenance supervisor. The spent fiber from the extractors is sold as animal feed.

Knife cutting of ginger root, cassia bark and cola nuts
Throughput of 6000 lb per hour of tough, hard roots, beans and nuts places high demands on the cutting blades of a rotary knife cutter. Spices are roots and fibrous and hard materials, so the cutter needs to be very rugged to handle the impact yet give a precise cut with minimum fines and dust. 

The Munson rotary knife cutter holds downtime to a minimum by efficient blade replacement, which Givaudan performs every six months. Bush says blade changing takes four hours compared to 1-1/2 days with a previous rotary knife cutter. The five rotor knives and four stationary knives fit into slots for easy bolting and unbolting. Much time saving derives from Munson's special tool for adjusting the clearance between the rotor and stationary knives. The rotary knife cutter this machine replaced required lengthy measurement and adjustment of knife clearance with a feeler gauge.

The former knife cutter only attained a throughput rate of 1990 lb (860 kg) per hour with a 60 hp motor, where the Munson unit, driven by a 20 hp variable speed drive at 550 rpm, triples that rate. Also, a wider 270° screen area permits higher throughput compared to the replaced cutter's 120° screen area.

Cutting vanilla beans at 3000 lb per hour
With a second Munson machine — a SCC 30 stainless steel (Screen Classifying Cutter) rotary cutter — Givaudan chops vanilla beans at a rate of 3000 lb (1360 kg) per hour. The rotary cutter attains high throughput with a helical rotor assembly of dozens of interconnected parallelogram shaped cutters, each holding two tungsten carbide cutter inserts. Cutting action occurs as the carbide tips pass within thousandths of an inch of two stationary bed knives. The rotor configuration produces a spiral cutting and feeding effect.

The carbide inserts are replaceable, but Bush replaces the whole rotor assembly every three years. The tungsten carbide teeth last long even in this abrasive application.

Cleaning of the rotary and knife cutters between batches proceeds rapidly. The operator flushes out their cutting chambers with nitrogen, and rinses with water. 

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Givaudan sells natural flavors to food companies, as well as creates flavors for customers in its laboratories. It is one of the oldest and largest flavors and fragrances houses in the world.

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