Ultrasonic Spray Coater Enhances Food Safety, Clean Labels
Sono-Tek Corp., Milton, N.Y., provided three ultrasonic spray coating systems for antimicrobial applications to a U.S.-based meat processor. The new systems are ideal for spraying extremely small amounts of antimicrobial agents uniformly onto the surfaces of meat slices as they are descending off industrial slicers at high speeds. Such accurate low dose coating capability is unmatched by any air pressure-assisted spraying system. Industrial scale meat slicers operate at range of speeds from 250-1,500 RPM. In order to effectively cover the entire throughput range, Sono-Tek's ultrasonic spray coater for antimicrobial applications is offered in a stand-alone model, where the controller of the equipment adjusts variables such as flow rate, spray plume shape, "no product-no spray," etc., or as an integrated system with that of the high-speed slicer. Sono-Tek uses its patented ultrasonic nozzles, which provide an accurate, low flow spray plume of uniform size micro droplets. These nozzles produce minimum "bounce back" with a high transfer coefficient, resulting in a micronic layer of antimicrobial coating fully and uniformly covering both sides of each meat slice. The new Sono-Tek antimicrobial ultrasonic spray coating system is designed in a modular fashion with a minimum floor space requirement. The system is compatible with industrial slicers of various brands, and can spray a 4-parallel meat log arrangement at slicing speeds exceeding 1,300 slices per minute. For safety considerations, electrical and air handling components are enclosed in a separate stainless-steel cabinet from the liquid handling and operational reservoir tank.
The stand-alone system's main features include:
A NEMA 4X food-grade construction with three stainless-steel cabinets and a flexible tubular arm for mounting the stainless-steel manifold housing four vortex nozzles onto the meat slicer. The first stainless-steel cabinet contains a touch-screen cisplay with various security levels access, an E Stop and a 3-color alarm light tower. The second stainless-steel cabinet contains an Embedded Industrial Controller (EIC) with constant system health monitoring, data logging for validation and alarm interface to the plant. This control system operates subject to the meat slicer control system being turned ON. It is capable of a comprehensive programmable solutions for numerous slicing/coating scenarios including a "No Product-No Spray" feature. This cabinet also contains ultrasonic generators, pump control system with the ability to deliver repeatable flow to each nozzle and power supply units. The third stainless-steel cabinet contains gear type micropumps, 3-way valves, air shaping flow control system that supplies air to the vortex nozzles and an operational reservoir tank with level sensors and volume designed for 24-hour operation.
The flexible tubular arm is constructed from a combination of stainless steel and food-grade flexible plastic tubing. It is attached to a stainless-steel manifold and comes with a quick connect arrangement to the meat slicer, guaranteeing identical positioning of the ultrasonic nozzles every time and allowing for easy cleaning within minutes. The manifold contains the vortex nozzles, and all plumbing, tubing and wiring to support the ultrasonic nozzles.