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A custom-designed carbon infrared oven from Heraeus Noblelight is helping Premier Foods to achieve efficiency gains of more than 10 per cent over a former hot rinse system on its cooking sauce production line at its Bury St Edmunds plant. The new oven has also allowed significant improvements in the working environment around the production line as well as energy savings compared with the steam-fed hot jar rinsing unit.

Infrared oven

Premier Foods manufactures a range of food products. However, there is always a danger of thermal shock, cracking or breakage of the jars when filling glass containers, which is caused when the temperature difference between fluid and glass is too great.

Previously, the cooking sauce jars were pre-heated in a rotary hot water rinse system, but dwell times varied, with the result that the glass jars sometimes did not reach the temperature required to avoid thermal shock and breakages occurred. This meant that the line had repeated stoppages and delays.

To address this problem, Premier approached specialist conveyor system manufacturer SFT-UK, which recommended a Heraeus infrared oven for the glass jar heating.

Tests were carried out at Heraeus’s Neston Applications Centre and these proved the capability of medium-wave infrared in heating glass jars efficiently and effectively. Consequently, a 124kW infrared oven was installed on the production line.

Key benefits of product application

  • Since installation, the new oven has proved a great success not only with production management in terms of reduced downtime, greater reliability and the 10 per cent increase in line speed, but also with the workforce.
  • Stephen Ward, project manager at Premier, said: ‘With the new infrared oven, all the old complaints [from operators] have been resolved and the workforce are now happy that, with the drastically reduced downtime, they can now consistently meet production targets, in a more comfortable environment.’
  • An optical pyrometer measures the temperature of the jars as they leave the oven and this temperature is displayed on the front control panel.
  • Manual or automatic control can be selected. In manual control, the operator can manually adjust the system’s power by means of a potentiometer to achieve the required temperature. In automatic control, the power is automatically regulated to maintain a preset jar exit temperature.
  • All the infrared emitters are fitted with failure detection so the line is shut down in the unlikely event of emitter failure. If the line needs to be stopped for any reason, the carbon emitters switch off virtually instantaneously to prevent overheating of any jars in the oven.

Heraeus Noblelight

Heraeus specialises in the production and application of high quality energy sources covering the electro-magnetic spectrum from ultraviolet to infra-red. It has over 40 years experience in infra-red technology and offers the expertise, products and systems to provide efficient and effective solutions to drying, heating and curing problems throughout industry.

Heraeus Noblelight GmbH with its headquarters in Hanau and with subsidiaries in the USA, Great Britain, France and China is one of the technology- and market-leaders in the production of specialty light sources and systems. In 2016, Heraeus Noblelight employed 707 people worldwide. The organization develops, manufactures and markets infrared and ultraviolet emitters, systems and solutions for applications in industrial manufacture, environmental protection, medicine and cosmetics, research, development and analytical measurement techniques.

In the 2016 financial year, Heraeus generated revenues without precious metals of €2.0 bn and a total revenue of €21.5 bn. With approximately 12,400 employees worldwide in more than 100 subsidiaries in 38 countries, Heraeus holds a leading position in its global markets.

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