International cooling solutions provider Starfrost has delivered a high performance quick freezing solution for Ultracongelados del Oja, part of the international corporation Virto Group, after the company was experiencing issues with the IQF quality of its frozen rice.
In the food processing industry, IQF stands for Individually Quick Freezing – a rapid freezing method designed for large quantities of loose products. As an essential process for food manufacturers producing frozen products such as vegetables, fruits and berries as well as rice, shrimp and diced or cubed meat, the performance and reliability of the freezing system is paramount to successful production.
Individual quick freezing is achieved with IQF freezing equipment and it is vital for frozen food processors to implement effective IQF technology to guarantee premium quality food products. Freezing equipment that delivers high quality IQF will maximise product yield and, combined with equipment efficiency, will enable greater throughput and in turn greater profitability for food processors.
Ultracongelados del Oja’s existing IQF Freezer was not individually freezing its rice products, resulting in product clumping, a common problem faced in the frozen food industry. As well as poor quality results, the factory had significant downtime issues due to the frequent defrosting of its IQF freezer during production.
Starfrost worked with the vegetable processor to design a new IQF tunnel system to maximise operational hours and effectively freeze large capacities of frozen rice.
Pilar Garcia, Director at Ultracongelados del Oja said: “We needed to upgrade our IQF freezing equipment because the rice products we were producing were clumping together, resulting in poor product quality. We also found that we were stopping production far too often in order to defrost the freezing system. We wanted to look at options that would reduce the operational downtime and produce high quality frozen rice.”
“We partnered with Starfrost to design our freezing equipment as their IQF technology is renowned in the food industry. Starfrost manufactured and installed a Turbo IQF Tunnel for our rice processing line and we have since seen great benefits to production.”
“The Turbo rapidly freezes our products and the fluidisation maintains separation, improving the quality of the frozen rice. Also with the addition of the sequential defrost system our production time has increased and we have reduced downtime by 50%.”
The Turbo IQF Tunnel utilises a twin belt fluidisation system. The first belt zone provides crust freezing and features a vibratory conveyor which creates a wave like motion to gently separate the rice grains. Rapid surface conditioning ensures optimum appearance and yield while preventing product clumping and sticking. The second and final belt of the Turbo is a deep freezing zone to complete the freezing process after the initial crust freeze.
The Turbo IQF Tunnel features a Starfrost sequential defrost system, highly efficient technology that enables the vegetable processor to continuously freeze 24 hours’ day for up 6 days, without the need for to stop production to defrost the freezer. The addition of sequential defrost system means the freezer coils are defrosted in a pre-programmed sequence during production allowing for significantly longer operational times.
Designed with flexibility in mind, the freezer is adaptable to freeze other food products, which allows the vegetable processor to expand production to freeze peas and beans during the harvesting season. The cutting edge solution from Starfrost has been custom built for Ultracongelados del Oja to fit seamlessly into its existing processing line, and with the latest in IQF technology, the company has benefited from product quality results and gained valuable production time.