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which then undergo a processing cycle: heating, holding, cooling. Once the cycle is complete, the carriers leave the retort and are unloaded for further handling. This differs from a continuous process, where products are fed into and out of the steriliser in one continuous flow.
Lan Handling Technologies is your specialist for the design, construction and installation of all hardware used for a batch retort process, which means: the loading of the products carriers, transport into and out of the retorts and from there on to the unloaders. There are several levels of automation. When fully automated, this is called an Automated Batch Retort System (ABRS). But a semi-automatic variant is also possible.
Products that can be processed in batch retorts include wet pet food, fruit, vegetables, soups, sauces, rice, beans, ready meals, meat, seafood, dairy products or drinks and some pharmaceutical products.
These type of products can be packaged in pouches, cans, bottles, jars or semi-rigid containers. Both the composition of the product (viscous or more liquid) and the type of packaging ultimately determine which type of retort and handling process is best suited to your product.
When comparing continuous retorts to batch retorts, it’s good to know that continuous retorts have a much smaller footprint than batch retorts and, in many cases, offer you enhanced reproducibility. Compared to continuous retorts, using a batch retort generally provides benefits on the following topics:
Continuous retorts are often designed based on predefined product types and sizes. Once built, the range that can be handled is set. When using batch retorts, you have the opportunity to handle an extended range of containers: pouches, cans, jars, bottles and semi-rigid containers. The most important thing is that the product carrier is tailored to the product and type of retort. Both baskets and stacks of trays can be used.
In theory, with 6 batch retorts you can simultaneously produce 6 different products, each with a different recipe. That is because a batch retort can easily be configured per product processing cycle. Just as important is an efficient end of production. Once product A has been processed, product B can be started immediately and loaded in another retort. At Lan, we have a lot of experience running multiple processes which ultimately brings you maximum flexibility.
Imagine a continuous flow of products, processed inside big sterilisers. What happens when the continuous steriliser goes down? The entire production line must stop until it is fixed. Chances are that an entire load of product must be thrown away, due to bad food processing. And what about scheduled maintenance? No production is possible at all. Batch retorts make your process less vulnerable. In case of unexpected downtime, the other retorts can continue processing. Also, maintenance tasks can be smartly planned per retort with minimal negative impact.
On average, 1 operator is required to operate a fully automatic Lan batch retort production line. In addition, batch retorts are smaller and (especially when fully automated with a shuttle solution) require less maintenance, as there are no moving mechanical parts in the retorts that can wear out.
This will be based on the content of your product and the desired packaging form. But an efficient and well thought-out handling system is just as much a critical success factor. For example, do you take into account enough buffer space to temporarily store a batch when one of your packaging machines is down? How do you implement a good track and trace on your line? And, how do you ensure that unsterilised and sterilised product can never mix?
The type of retort you choose, can effect both the loading & unloading technique and the chosen product carriers, for example. We are happy to advise you.
Your specific product, processing method and market requirements determine which solution is best for you. We look beyond just your batch retort system. Ultimately, we strive for this goal: bringing sustainable and predictive business growth to your production facility. Talk further?