Conveyors & Spiral Freezers: Ensuring Versatility


Upgrading existing concepts and introducing new equipment in the spiral freezers and conveyors segments are on top of the list for major manufacturers in the industry, mainly due to increasing demand for versatile machinery, from processors on the frozen food market.

Dan Orehov

One of Europe’s leading manufacturers of sausage and meat products, James T Blakeman & Co has recently decided to invest in an upgrade of freezing equipment, with its fourth Helix spiral system from IQF equipment specialist Starfrost.

Efficiency Comes First

James T Blakeman & Co is a family run business that supplies sausage and meat products to the catering and ready meal industry; manufacturing 21000 tons of production per year. The company has a continuous commitment to growth and improvement within the business and recently built a 40,000 sq.ft state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at its site in Staffordshire, UK.

Blakeman’s latest development was to increase capacity and efficiency of its existing aging system. The firm also wanted to optimize hygiene procedures and increase flexibility of its processing line to provide opportunities for long-term business planning.

Successful Cooperation

British manufacturer Starfrost has worked closely with James T Blakeman & Co for a number of years, successfully installing three spiral freezing systems over the last decade as the meat manufacture extended its processes. For Blakeman’s most recent project Starfrost was once again selected as preferred freezing equipment supplier. Starfrost, together with parent company Star refrigeration, designed, manufactured and installed a Glacier Spiral system for Blakeman’s. The latest freezing system upgrade combines Helix Spiral Freezer technology and a unique low carbon ammonia refrigeration plant in one complete package. The Glacier pack included a custom designed Helix Spiral Freezer with a processing capacity of 900 kg per hour of cooked sausages. The system features a stainless steel dual conveyor belt around a single rotating drum, with 28 tiers in total. In addition, the dual twin belt is equipped with optional side guards; this allows the customer to process various products simultaneously, giving increased flexibility to the processing line.

Kevin Moller, operational manager at Blakemans says: “We have worked alongside Starfrost on former freezing projects and have been very pleased with the results, they have proven to be reliable and have an understanding of our requirements, so when it came to looking for another spiral freezing system, it was an easy decision. The Glacier Helix has been designed to meet our precise specifications; it is operating effectively, enabling us to reduce maintenance and improve flexibility of our processing line, as well giving us capabilities to expand production in the future.”

Blakeman’s Spiral Freezer features a ‘Clean in Place’ system, the CIP System is an automated cleaning system using rotating spray nozzles and spray bars, for targeted application of the detergent and sanitizer in major operating zones. Its unique design enables the process to be a repeatable, cost effective means of cleaning and sanitizing the equipment, along with reducing operational downtime required for cleaning and maintenance. The latest spiral system installed at Blakeman’s is designed to maximize uptime and requires minimal ongoing maintenance. Furthermore, the temperature control and a unique airflow is specially designed for delicate products such as skin on sausages, ensuring product quality is maintained for the customer.

“The primary, most important benefit of our latest install has been optimizing hygienic performance within our facility, with rising safety demands within the food processing industry, food processors today must be extremely focused on hygiene within their production. The full ‘Clean in Place’ system combined with stainless steel enclosure and reverse cycle defrost allows for an effective hygienic process at Blakeman’s,” says Moller.

Ashworth Offers Versatility with the Omni-Grid® 360 Weld Belt

Ashworth Bros., Inc., the industry pioneer and leading conveyor system manufacturer, introduces its new Omni-Grid® 360 Weld line of grid style spiral/turn-curve conveyor belts.  The Omni-Grid® 360 Weld line of belts reduce cage bar wear, maintenance costs and downtime in your most demanding high-tension spiral/turn-curve applications while maintaining belt strength integrity and easy-to-clean attributes.

“The introduction of the Omni-Grid® 360 Weld line is the third generation of grid belts, once again proving Ashworth’s leadership value and commitment to metal belting solutions that exceed today’s processing demands,” said Joe Lackner, vice president for Ashworth Brothers, Inc. “Now everyone who has relied on the trusted performance of Ashworth’s Omni-Grid® belts for more than 50 years can benefit from the engineered innovation of Omni-Grid® 360 Weld’s superior strength and hygienic weld design.”

According to the company, Ashworth Bros., Inc., headquartered in Winchester, Virginia, is the only conveyor belt company that manufactures and services both metal and plastic belting for straight running, turn-curve, lo-tension and self-stacking spirals—offering customers the best solution for their specific requirements. With over 70 years of revolutionizing the future of conveyor belts, Ashworth continues to lead the market with the most conveyor belt patents in the food processing, can making, and material handling industries. Companies around the world depend on Ashworth’s quality products, reliable customer service, innovative solutions and experienced Factory Service team to maximize throughput and minimize lifecycle costs.

“Zero Tension”

The increased strength of the Omni-Grid® 360 Weld belts comes from the revolutionary 360° buttonless welds utilizing a patented “zero tension” design which allows a higher load bearing capacity. Unlike a traditional bridge weld, the 360° buttonless weld is free from surface imperfections and crevices which improve hygienic characteristics by eliminating the possibility of bacteria entrapments. The “zero tension” design permits the belt to run smoother with less wear on spiral system cage bar caps. Each link is formed with a proprietary coining process to prevent break-in wear, reducing belt elongation and increasing belt life. The 1-inch pitch and 1½-inch pitch Omni-Grid® 360 Weld belts are also offered with integral guard-edges with a smooth rounded finish for applications where product retention is a potential concern. Available in .75-inch, 1-inch, and 1.5-inch pitch, the Omni-Grid® 360 Weld belts are one of the strongest grid style belts on the market today.