After 12 months of extensive trial work at its lab in Wernigerode, Germany, Chocotech introduced the ECOGRAV at Interpack 2011 to great acclaim. Given the emphasis on reducing energy costs, it’s no surprise that within a year’s time, the ECOGRAV was especially well-received by the confectionery industry. Consequently, it behooves those looking to save money to consider its potential to replicate that success in their operations.
In a nutshell, the ECOGRAV is a flexible gravimetric weighing unit with a buffer and an integrated continuous dissolver, which uses the moisture of the glucose (corn syrup) to dissolve the crystal sugar (or a sugar-free ingredient such as isomalt) without having to add any additional water, thus saving significant energy.
The ECOGRAV is ideal for hard candies, chewy candies, fondants, cooked sugar solutions for bars and allows a dry solids level of up to 90% to be achieved prior to cooking.
This substantially reduces the energy required compared to starting the cooking process at 75% – 80% dry solids, offering energy savings of 30% to 50%. Initial viscosity problems involving using a dry solids level of 90% prior to cooking were overcome by applying the correct temperature. Concerns about this having an effect on mass color and possible inversion were swept aside following independent laboratory tests that showed there was no increase in the percentage of reducing sugars during the entire process and that mass color was not affected.
Consider the energy savings as compared to a conventional method:
1,000 kg/hr hard candy from infeed solids of 75% (warm-water, jacketed batch weigher) to 98% final dry solids of cooked mass.
1,000 kg/hr x 0.98 final solids= 1,306 kg/hr feed rate to cooker
0.75 infeed solids
1,000 kg/hr x 0.98 final solids= 1,089 kg/hr feed rate to cooker
0.90 infeed solids
The difference comes to 217 liters less moisture cooked out of mass.
The ECOGRAV requires 255 kg/hr less steam per 1,000 kg of finished hard candy mass than the conventional method. When running a two-shift operation consisting of eight hours per shift, this translates to a steam saving of more than 4,000 kg of steam per day (or in excess of 6,000 kg/day on a three-shift operation). As steam (energy) prices vary around the world, individual calculations will differ. It’s safe to say, however, that the savings are substantial wherever a company’s located.
Another advantage of the ECOGRAV system stems from the flexibility of a gravimetrical weighing system, which enables easy recipe and ingredient changes. The whole unit is backed up by PLC, which handles recipe control, recipe storage and temperature control, etc.
The advantages continue even beyond the individual ECOGRAV unit. First, because of the higher solids level entering the final cooker, a smaller heat exchange surface is required and thus, a smaller cooker. In addition, when an existing batch weigher is replaced by the Ecograv, the capacity of the line can be increased as the strain or load on the existing final cooker is far less because of the higher incoming dry solids ( i.e. 90.)
The ECOGRAV skid also houses a CIP pump. As the skid-mounted vessels in the system are already equipped with 360° rotating sprayballs, it is easy to either connect to an existing CIP unit or run an individual loop on the unit.
In addition to the ECOGRAV system, Chocotech is also a key supplier of turnkey kitchen systems for the following: hard candy, SUCROMASTER; fondant, MICRON; chewy CHEWMASTER; caramel, SUCROFILM / CARAFLEX; jellies, JELLYMASTER / JELLYMIX; aerated products, TORNADO; and much more.
Wernigerode, Germany-based CHOCOTECH is a privately owned company employing 180 people. It’s a sister company of Sollich KG, a third-generation family business known for its market leadership in chocolate and bar manufacturing equipment. The long list of especially satisfied customers not only includes some of the world’s multinationals, but also midsized and smaller confectionery companies.
CHOCOTECH has a state-of-the-art laboratory in Wernigerode, which houses the complete scope of the above-mentioned kitchen systems for capacities up to and beyond 1,000 kg/hr. For recipe development, the laboratory also houses thePrincess range of cookers. The lab is run by experienced process engineers who have gained their expertise and knowledge not only in the classroom, but also from commissioning confectionery lines for customers all across the globe.