Improving the Efficiency of Cooling Tunnels in the Confectionery Industry
December 6, 2019
Cooling tunnels are a vital component in the world of chocolate production. In an industry that is dependant on uniformity, quality and precision in high quantities- ensuring that cooling tunnels are operating as well as possible while producing the best product is paramount.
Chocolatiers will always want to push their process to new heights and new levels, and the best way to achieve this is by removing any worry or doubt that mechanical processes will not let them down. From a large factory to a small operation, having peace of mind that every chocolate placed in one side of the machine will come out in an ideal condition will not only make things more efficient and cost-effective but also allow the focus to be on making the product as good as it possibly can be.
What does a cooling tunnel achieve?
Even though the cooling tunnel works in the same way, every time it is used, the results that it can achieve are vastly different depending on the production stage it is utilised in. The cooling tunnel can do anything from creating a matte to a gloss finish or even help to create a cast that will then be filled with other ingredients.
Clearly, there is a lot of versatility with a machine like this, which is why it’s so commonplace within not only chocolate production but the general confectionery industry and even bakeries. So where could issues arise for such a piece of equipment?
What are the problems?
Chocolate production and the wider confectionery industry have been constantly raising the bar for creating products that are not only delicious and aesthetic but also for being consistently uniform in their finish.
There is ample opportunity for issues to arise when factoring in that cooling tunnels don’t take humidity levels into account during the process of drying. This is concerning for this application is due to the ingredients used within this industry. There are plenty of hygroscopic ingredients used in this process (for more detail, see our article on chocolate coating). These ingredients will naturally want to reach an equilibrium with the environment around them, meaning that humid conditions will alter the way that products dry because of the moisture content in the air.
Why is this an issue?
The average year-round humidity level in the UK is at 80% RH (relative humidity). These ambient conditions will be in any unconditioned room and will affect processes if it isn’t dealt with. A lack of control over conditions leads to a lack of control over the rest of the process, making results unpredictable and creating more waste, more downtime and less product that reaches the high-quality levels demanded by the industry.
What’s the solution?
Luckily, the solution is simple.
A bespoke dehumidification system will be able to control ambient conditions in the cooling tunnel. By bringing the overall RH level down to a point where the ingredients aren’t trying to absorb excess moisture, you can ensure that that uniform quality will be present every single day. This will also help with raw ingredients used in the process, even before they have been mixed, ingredients like sugar are very hygroscopic and a dehumidification system will prevent them from caking and ruining the texture and flavour of your product.
This also provides benefits for the cooling tunnel as well due to the average RH level across the country being at a level that encourages corrosion in metals. With a machine like the cooling tunnel, which is constantly in use and subject to these conditions, you greatly reduce the likelihood of a breakdown.
A dehumidification system removes any sense of unpredictability from the cooling tunnel in chocolate production. By controlling the ambient conditions, you can control the process to a level that is simply not possible when the environment is fighting against you.
Flavour, quality, uniformity and efficiency rule this industry. If you can control the conditions and remove the unexpected, then you will have an immediate leg-up on any competition.
For more information on how Dehum can help with your chocolate production please visit https://www.dehum.com/applications/food-drink/ or call us on 01926 882624.
For over twenty-one years, Dehum (Sorption Wheel Services Limited) has been a major supplier of humidity control systems. We are a true Engineering Company, designing, supplying and coordinating installations of equipment alongside complimentary services. Our global client list spans across all industries, including food & drink, pharmaceutical, nuclear, automotive, aviation, chemical processing, ice prevention/cold storage, car storage and archives.