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- QDS Process
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QDS PROCESS: (Quick-Dry-Slice) The breakthrough technology for accelerated dry-curing of sliced meat products
"QDS process" is a revolutionary accelerated drying process for sliced meat products which is applied directly after the fermentation step to the sliced product, and prior to the final long and dilated drying phase.
This innovative process results in drastically reduced total processing time, thereby eliminating interminable periods of time in the chamber, simplifying the production process and obtaining significantly improved energy efficiency.
Improvement of the regularity in product quality: The QDS Process® lines control individually the weight variation of the sliced product transported on each tray (Identified by means of an RFID Tag) ensuring a much better homogeneity inside the batch and between batches.
Reduction of the risk of product alteration: The quick drying and the high degree of control in the QDS Process® lines avoid most of the risks which a traditional product undergoes during its long drying stage.
Higher degree of Food Safety: Although the microbiological studies show that pathogens as Lysteria Monocytogenes, Stafilococcus Aureus and Salmonella show a very similar behavior in the QDS Process® product and in the traditional product, we can say that, as a consequence of the better regularity and control and the reduction of the alteration risks, the QDS Process® offers a highest degree of food safety. More flexible Research & Development process: The shortening in the product process allows for improving drastically the R&D efficiency, by being able to increase the number of new product design tests.
Possibility of developing new product shapes other than the traditional round one: The traditional process restricts the possible shapes of raw - cured products to the cylindrical shape, the only one which guaranties a uniform drying. The QDS Process® lines permit any possible shape of slice, regular or irregular, even if it may be necessary to adapt the line for the handling of such slices.
Possiblility of developing new products that are not viable with the traditional process: The traditional process requires that the product enters the drying stage with a water activity level already reduced to avoid microbiological damages in the first drying days, when aw is still high. The high speed of the QDS Process® avoids this requirement without damaging the product and opens the door to the development of such products. Avoids formation of a mold cover: The speed of the QDS Process® avoids completely the growing of molds on the product surface.
Better color of the final product: The QDS Process® products always show a more intense and less brown color than the traditionally dried products as there are less oxidation reactions. Avoids crusting on the external part of the slice: The QDS Process® avoids completely this defect obtaining totally uniform slices.
QDS PROCESS OPERATION In the QDS (Quick-Dry-Slice) process, the frozen slices previously fermented, undergo a quick tempering drying phase at controlled temperature and humidity, followed by a drying & maturing phase in a modified atmosphere with controlled temperature, resulting in a final meat product, ready to market (Vacuum or Modified Atmosphere Packaging previous), of homogeneous texture and properties, microbiologically stable and of high organoleptic quality. STAGES OF THE PROCESS Slicing zone: In this zone the bars of the frozen product are sliced and, by means of a set of conveyors, the slices are distributed on a perforated plastic tray on which the entire drying process takes place. The tray incorporates an RFID tag that provides for its identification without contact. Each tray is weighed on-line at the beginning and again once it has been loaded with slices, thereby obtaining the initial net weight. Convective-drying zone: The loaded trays are carried automatically by the conveyors to the lower level of a first drying tunnel. Once the level has been completely loaded, it ascends, leaving the lower level free to receive new trays. In its upward path through the tunnel, the tray receives a lateral flow of air at a controlled temperature and humidity, which dries the slices. Once the trays have reached the upper level, they are automatically transferred to an upper level of a second tunnel, where the drying process is completed in a descending path until reaching the same level as the inlet. During the process of being transferred between tunnels, the trays are weighed again, so that their weight loss can be calculated midway through the process. Since regulation of the two tunnels is carried out independently, knowing the weight at this point allows for correcting the drying conditions if necessary. Accumulator-Cooler: At the output end of the QDS process® drying tunnels, the trays loaded with the product go through this zone where they receive a flow of cold air that quickly reduces the temperature of the slices, adapting them to the conditions for packaging. The accumulation tower can accept short stoppages of the thermoformer (changes of film, etc…) without altering the drying process time. Packaging zone: Final weighing takes place at the accumulator outlet, and the definitive percentage of weight loss is obtained. Then, a gantry robot removes the slices from the processing tray and places them on a conveyor to be fed into the overlapping and package formation system. The configuration of this zone is totally variable depending on the packaging format, the space available and the degree of automation desired. It typically consists of a system for overlapping the slices and formation of the portion to be packaged by means of mobile band or round belt conveyors and a system for placing the portions in the thermoformer forms, by hand, conveyor belts or robots. Air conditioners: The air conditioners in the QDS line are intelligent elements that automatically regulate the mixture of outer air and recirculate it, providing a typical reduction in energy consumption in temperate zones of about 30 % compared to conventional drying. In addition, they are equipped with refrigerating and heating capacity and HEPA filtering system. Zone for washing, storage and transport of the trays: During the normal working cycle, once they have been unloaded the trays are transported by a system of conveyors to a washing, sanitation and drying tunnel, usually located in an adjacent room. From there, the clean trays are carried again by a system of conveyors to the slicing zone, where the cycle begins again. If stoppage occurs in the slicing zone or at the end of the day for the purpose of cleaning the entire line, a gantry robot collects the clean trays and deposits them in piles on a storage conveyor, where they remain until they are needed again in the slicing zone.
Orientative Production Capacity Standard model: 400 kg/h for products with 30 minutes drying time, 80 mm. diameter and 1.5 mm fermented product slice thickness. For more information or other production capacities, please consult with Metalquimia.