Automated plate freezing
Cool Off is a company at the forefront of technology and innovation. To help maintain a high quality product, the company developed a unique offal collection process that involves installation of a customised collection and chilling unit onsite at the abattoir. This enables Cool Off to control all aspects of quality from the onset, providing a dedicated focus on quality of the pet food products, with minimal abattoir labour input. This system is currently installed at over 30 Australian abattoirs.
Once the offal is processed, it is pumped into large plate freezers, with the capacity to hold 2000 kg of product, and frozen at -20 degrees Celsius. The product is then unloaded and palletised for delivery to pet food manufacturers. In the past, this was a labour intensive process that required manual handling by operators. To increase throughput and limit manual handling requirements, Cool Off together with VK Logic designed a new automated plate freezing system. VK Logic has a longstanding relationship with Cool Off, resulting in a detailed understanding of the plate freezing process. Justin Van Klaveren, managing director at VK Logic explained that in order to meet increasing customer supply contracts, Cool Off undertook some expansion work at the plant that included building works and new freezer panel rooms.
“There wasn’t a simple, automated unload process for the large plate freezers so together with Cool Off, we placed an arrangement of pneumatically actuated panels and built plate freezer apparatus to utilise the existing infrastructure to release each block one by one down the plate onto a common conveyor belt, eliminating the requirement for manual handling,” said Justin.
“Given that margins for pet food are not near margins for human consumption, the opportunity for automation becomes more and more important,” Justin added.