GEA supplies the food industry with reliable, hygienic and flexible solutions for freezing and chilling needs -- spiral freezers designed for easy cleaning and access, tunnel freezers with various belt designs for many different products, and dishwasher-type CIP systems for most of its freezers and chillers.
Consumers buy frozen products from thousands of brands every day—and when they get those products home, the quality of the brand’s freezing process comes to light. Nobody wants frozen french fries or fish sticks that come stuck together in a single block of ice, or frozen strawberries and raspberries that have been reduced to mush by a harsh freezing process.
For high quality and performance results, food production processors turn to GEA. With more than 35 years of experience in the food freezing industry, GEA has refined the art of specialized and customized refrigeration and freezing for a wide variety of products and processes.
Serving a wide range of products
GEA understands that food producers and manufacturers have varied and often diversified needs. Because of this, GEA offers technical expertise and experience in various applications such as:
• Fruit and vegetables
• Ready meals and convenience food
From whole chickens to prepared or marinated chicken tenders, from raw sliced fish to par-fried fish sticks, and from processed microwavable convenience foods to freshly harvested and flash frozen berries, GEA is able to design, engineer, manufacture and install custom freezing and chilling solutions for practically any demand.
Efficiency through Lean operations
When a manufacturing operation is run consciously and efficiently, that translates to a better quality product and cost savings for the end user. In an effort to reduce lead times while maintaining the quality of its output, GEA has adopted a Lean manufacturing strategy, which is being implemented throughout the entire GEA plant in Richmond B.C..
“So far we have seen quite a significant contribution in some of our sub-procedures, where the output was doubled without any capital investments,” said Enrique Rivera, Director Manufacturing “We were significantly able to reduce our working capital in the last year, which we will now maintain as a long term target. We have identified more opportunities, and we are planning to roll out more Lean principles into the execution of our products, to serve our customers more quickly without losing our quality.”
Prioritizing food safety
At any food manufacturing facility, food safety is a top priority. From processed foods to raw fruits and vegetables, there is always a concern for foodborne pathogens and bacteria making their way from the farm or facility to a consumer’s plate. Through innovation and technology, GEA works to provide machines that offer the ultimate in food safety and protection to ensure that its clients’ frozen products stay safe for consumers.
One of our core technologies is the hygienic design of our products,” said Sascha Poteralla, President/CEO. “Moisture is a fantastic ground for bacteria to grow, so we avoid bolted structures inside our freezers and fully weld our structures and enclosures for that reason. As moisture has a chance to grow bacteria in any tiny corners finding its way onto the frozen the product, we are using open profiles and open structures in our designs” he said.
A custom fit and custom testing
A large part of GEA expertise comes from its years of experience in serving and innovating food freezing solutions for customers.
“With its foundations back in 1979 up to today, we have more than 1,000 chillers and freezers installed worldwide and more than 35 years’ experience in food freezing and chilling,” said Poteralla. “There is a huge amount of experience behind us, and we have a huge database available on products we have handled successfully in the past.”
Though past experience cannot always prepare a business for customer needs in the future, GEA is always ready for new challenges—and new challenges come along often. “Even in the food industry, we always get new products on the market,” explained Sascha Poteralla. A state-of-the-art test lab allows our customers and engineers to use a combination of past experience and new tests to determine the best way to process new products.
“We have a test center here in Richmond, so customers come to see us quite a lot,” he said. “They may bring their product prototypes and we carry out tests together with them to measure freezing and retention times. Further design criteria in terms of airflows and temperatures which determines how big the machine needs to be, we can figure that all out from those tests in our freezer lab and test center.”
This kind of field testing is especially vital for producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, where it is imperative that products are frozen quickly, perfectly, and reliably. “We can simulate how the system behaves in the field, which is very important for the majority of products which are not only produced but harvested—customers are very interested to find a reliable solution,” added Sascha Poteralla. “Once the peas or raspberries are harvested, you need to get them frozen or processed, otherwise you can just throw them away.”
Planning for the future
GEA sees more innovation in store for the future. “We are working on continuously developing our machines and our technologies,” said Sascha Poteralla, noting that the company is working with select customers to test new development prototypes before they go to market.
“In addition to that, we are capturing the demand of the market and of our core key customers,” said Poteralla. “We are keen to understand what their plans are in regards to new products they want to launch. The further we understand that, the better we can make sure we have the technology available in our portfolio to meet their demands.”
The company is also looking to continue improving its processes, pushing its Lean principles even further to provide its consumers with additional benefits. “We are constantly looking to optimize and reduce the total cost of ownership of our machines,” said Enrique Rivera. “That means we expect to have longer maintenance cycles, and we are working on studies to let our machines operate longer between a servicing stop. We are looking to constantly optimize on low cost solutions with high quality standards. On one side we are trying to add features, and on the other side want to make sure we are capable of supplying a solution quickly to the market, specifically when it comes to serve customers demand and maintaining their seasonal business.”