At Interpack 2017, Spice Application Systems (SAS) will be displaying its innovative complete drum system which uses electrostatic technology to apply flavourings and coatings to a variety of products. The company has already manufactured and supplied a number of bespoke systems and here one customer explains the successful outcome of working with SAS.
The Republic of Fish AS, is a manufacturer of fish-based snack foods is based in Sommarøya in the north of Norway, where the company has been producing a 100 percent natural, handmade product called Havgull made from arctic haddock since 2008. Thin flakes of dried fish, much like potato crisps, Havgull is a traditional Norwegian and Icelandic snack, which is an acquired taste.
In 2016, the company decided to expand their product base by developing their product to appeal to a wider market, by coating it with olive oil and selected spices. Under the brand name Happy Crisps, the delicate flakes of dried fish were to be covered with ground pepper, garlic and ginger spices, maintaining the healthy properties of the snack which contains 80 percent protein and no artificial additives.
Managing Director Kristjon Bergmundsson says: "We were keen to develop a product based on the success of Havgull, but which would appeal to the taste buds of consumers not familiar with this Nordic delicacy. We especially picked spices to complement the flavour of the dried fish but also those with added health benefits."
Once the new product had been developed in theory, the company had to find an efficient system to coat it. Although Kristjon Bermundsson had been involved in the fish industry all his working life, he knew nothing about coating snacks, and so began searching for an expert in the field. But as the search continued, it became obvious that a standard 'off -the-peg' seasoning and coating line wasn't going to work for this product.
Then a recommendation came to contact a British based supplier, Spice Application Systems (SAS), which specialises in using electrostatic technology to apply flavourings, coatings, powders, additives, vitamins, spices and oils to a wide range of food products. Kristjon Bermundsson said: "On speaking to SAS, it quickly became clear that we needed a system tailored to our specific needs, and after talking to them and learning about how the coating process would work, we were confident that they would deliver."
SAS designed and engineered a range of complementary pieces of equipment which worked together to create a complete coating and flavouring system for the Happy Crisps. The system, which comprises a screw feeder, oil spray system, in-feed tray and cylindrical drum, uses electrostatics to coat the flakes.
The electrostatic technique works by applying a static charge to the powder and oil coating as it's being sprayed onto the product. As the coating become negatively charged, it adheres automatically to the positive base product, creating a true wraparound effect.
Peter King, SAS Managing Director explains: "An electrostatic system is much more efficient than the traditional tumbling drum method used by many manufacturers to apply flavourings and coatings to products, which often results in poor coverage, high powder wastage and easy breakage of fragile products, such as snacks.
"In addition, using electrostatics provides pinpoint accuracy for applications, ensuring that in todays health conscious environment, where levels of oils and fats need to be tightly controlled, manufacturers know exactly how much they are using."
Depending on the quantities of products manufactured, SAS that companies using an electrostatic can see a return on investment within around four months in terms of savings alone – mainly through less wastage and greater energy efficiency.
The Happy Crisps were trialled at SAS premises in the UK, when Kristjon Bermundsson was able to see the system working first hand, which he said was a critical factor in making the decision to go ahead. "We were able to monitor and tweak the machine and the dosing of powder and oil until it was exactly right. So when the machine was delivered to our factory, we set it up over the weekend and were ready for production on the Monday," he said.
Since installation and starting production, the company has been delighted with the efficiency of the food coating drum system. There is zero waste to dispose of and no need for staff to wear masks as all the coating is so accurately sprayed directly onto the product. There is no product breakage, and powder contamination around the drum system is minimal, which means less downtime for cleaning.
Kristjon Bergmundsson concludes: "In the beginning, we were a bit lost and didn't really know what type of equipment we needed to manufacture our new product. Then we realised that we didn't just want to buy a piece of kit, we wanted to a buy a solution to our dilemma, and the SAS system has provided that solution.