When it comes to food processing, precision is key. From the obvious – making sure the ingredients are measured correctly, that health standards are met and getting to market on time, through to the more intricate details like making sure the exact amount of glaze is added to a bun or loaf of bread. These details can be the difference between making a product attractive to consumers or something less appealing.
Spraying Systems sees the bigger picture, which is why it sees itself as a provider of individual solutions to a variety of food and beverage processing companies. It specialises in building systems designed to accurately distribute coatings over various products – it not only produces the nozzles to make this happen, but can build a system to suit a company’s individual needs.
One such system is the AutoJet Glaze Spray System, which was developed by the AutoJet division of the company. Danny Spasenoski, a mechanical project engineer for the company, helped design the system for a client that is in the food industry. Why was it built? More out of necessity than anything, according to Spasenoski.
“It was created due to the fact that other systems used for glazing applications were riddled with issues such as misting and overspray,” he said. “Many of the companies could not supply a means to accurately and efficiently coat with glazes.”
Like any piece of precise engineering, it’s all about performance. And with any product developed for such precision, there are challenges that needed to be overcome.
The client was very clear on what they wanted, and it was up to Spasenoski and his team to get it right.
“Our customer advised us of the performance requirements, which included that the system had to be able to run for eight hours continuously without any issues such as nozzle blockages,” he said.
Nozzle blockages are a common issue in many bakeries as they are often using the wrong type of nozzles or operating their nozzles incorrectly. This contributes to system downtime, loss of production and an increase in operating costs. Spasenoski ran a trial at the AutoJet workshop whereby he ran a single nozzle continuously for eight hours to simulate how it would run onsite. The results were positive and after he sent the results to the customer, they were more than happy to sign off on the order.
There were several other aspects that needed to be taken into consideration before the system was ready for the client. This included setting up the software to make sure it could meet the strict specifications that the client required.
It also meant that each batch of food being produced was able to have its own set points – such as spray time, delay time and configurations of the products being sprayed and the amount of liquid that needs to be applied. A key to the accuracy was the Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).
“With standard spray nozzles, you would adjust the pressure in order to vary the flow rate. The issue with this is by changing the pressure, you are also altering the coverage of the nozzles, which can cause overspray and underspray issues. Using PWM, we were able to spray at a constant pressure while varying the duty cycle of the spray nozzle,” said Spasenoski. “For example, if we are running at two litres per minute, and we need to run at one litre per minute, the spray nozzles ran at 50 per cent duty cycle. This is really easy for the operators because they don’t have to change the individual settings, which are stored. They just have to change which batch is running on the main screen – everything else is automatically adjusted to suit that batch.”
Spasenoski is eager to point out that it is different from other companies that offer products for the food and beverage industry.
“We provide more than just nozzles,” said Spasenoski. “We are able to design complete and custom-automated systems to suit various applications.
“The AutoJet Division that I am a part of designs, assembles and tests all systems in-house. Also, it is important to realise that all of the critical screens are password protected to ensure that only the required people have access to the system’s set points. This prevents any unnecessary errors and potential downtime that may be caused if an unauthorised person decides to fiddle around with the settings.
“Every customer is different therefore we don’t supply systems with a fixed number of nozzles. We always customise the systems to suit each individual application and how many nozzles they require.”