19 octubre 2017

​Milmeq technology increases quality and capacity

Milmeq continues to be a standout in the meat processing industry with its innovation in its already market leading capital equipment line.

Milmeq’s plate freezers have long been recognised as the industry-leading solution for energy and time-efficient freezing, but it’s one of their latest innovations to this technology which is turning heads.

Taking on the challenge of providing plate freezers with adjustable capacity for Australian pork processor Linley Valley Pork, Milmeq’s innovation has led Western Australian’s largest pork processor into a new future, increasing both its throughput and product quality.

Linley Valley Pork is a brand of the Craig Mostyn Group based in Western Australia who specialise in producing high quality, free range pork.

Linley Valley packs its products in different sized cartons, and while the use of plate freezers is generally limited to operations where all cartons are the same height, Milmeq rose to the challenge to create a system where the height the of freezers could be adjustable.

Milmeq worked closely with Linley Valley Pork to ensure its targets were met on time and to budget. Milmeq supplied two, 14-level plate freezer stacks which accommodate a total of 480 small, 320 medium and 1152 large cartons. Pre-sorted cartons enter the system by conveyor, where the carton size is automatically detected and the cartons are assigned to the appropriate level on the plate freezer.

With a 21-hour freeze time from direct contact with the plates, this delivered a significantly lower refrigeration index than blast freezing and improved the quality of Linley Valley Pork’s products, particularly its offal products, which are usually packed warm. The automated nature of the system also reduces the risk of injury to personnel that was previously posed by manual handling of product within a blast freezer environment.

Milmeq product manager – plate freezers Brendan Dever said the company was pleased to not only fulfil Linley Valley’s brief with a custom solution, but also continue to be a market leader in freezing technology.

“It just goes to show that we’re constantly adapting and making sure we’re keeping relevant as the industry changes,” he said.

“It’s really important to us that our clients can feel they can come to us with any kind of project brief, no matter the challenge.”

Linley Valley Pork site engineer Jim McGuckin said working with Milmeq had been a great experience, and was impressed with their attention to detail.

“We’ve already got the team coming back next month to do a bit of training on the new machinery, as well as a bit of a follow up to see how we’re settling in with the new freezers,” he said.

“It’s great to have that kind of commitment from Milmeq.”

Read More
21 agosto 2017

Milmeq and Nolan Meats collaborate for plant expansion

An enduring partnership between companies in the meat processing sector has resulted in a large-scale project built to a completely unique brief.

Food processing plant equipment provider Milmeq and Gympie-based meat processor Nolan Meats have continued their 18-year relationship in development of their new post-slaughter facility, to allow the company to chill, freeze and sort their product on site for distribution.

Milmeq assisted with the design and layout of the new facility and installation of the plate freezing component.

The project is the culmination of two years of work, from conceptual design to completion, where both parties were actively involved in every part of the process.

Milmeq product manager Roy Robinson said both Milmeq and Nolan Meats were very hands-on with their approach to the concept design.

“This was a very collaborative process, and we really enjoyed working with Nolan to ensure they were happy with the outcome,” he said.

“It’s not often we have the design completely finalised before installation, but Nolan recognised the importance of considering the project from all aspects and this attention to detail at the design stage allowed for a very smooth project delivery.”

The collaboration meant the project was completely unique to the client, built to fulfil their specifications.

Milmeq draftsperson Carin Mitchell, who worked on the beef slaughter plant design in 1999, said it was great to partner with Nolan again after 18 years.

“I really enjoyed working with Mike Nolan and the team; it’s great to have all of that input and another set of eyes going across the design,” she said.

“It really highlights Milmeq’s commitment to our clients and how important it is to us to ensure we have ongoing communication, even after several years.”

In line with current export requirements, Nolan Meats required a post-slaughter chilling and freezing facility to be built, in order for all parts of their meat processing operation to remain on one site.

Milmeq provided a plate freezing facility, which has the capacity to freeze 3840 cartons daily.

Unlike other plate freezers, these ones open progressively, allowing cartons of product to be placed in contact with the plates more quickly, optimising the chilling and freezing process.

The plate freezers are fully automated, and the design includes a SCADA system and CCTV, and associated refrigeration infrastructure.

They give 24 hours of guaranteed freeze time – half of the time that the more traditional method of blast freezing would require.

Other benefits that the plate freezers offer Nolan Meats include a compact physical footprint, industry-leading energy efficiency and consistent presentation of flat cartons, which provides a flow-on effect of space saving in shipping containers.

The plate freezers were tailored to meet not only the current demands of the plant, but also designed to allow for future upgrades and increases in the throughput of the plant.

Read More
04 abril 2017

Plate freezers – one of the ‘hidden secrets’ driving Australian beef’s international success

What's driven the massive investment by Australian red meat processors in large-scale plate freezing technology over the past few years?

Beef Central this week takes a look at a piece of somewhat obscure and perhaps little-appreciated processing technology which in no small way is helping consolidate Australia’s reputation as the world’s best beef exporter, based on quality, consistency and product performance.

Australia is almost unique in the use of large-scale plate freezers, accounting for an estimated 98 percent of the systems in use in the food industry worldwide

Refrigeration engineers Milmeq says it has installed 190 plate freezers in Australia, the majority used in meat processing. And there’s been a sharp rise in installations in the past three to four years, all but one of which have gone into meat processing applications. The largest units can cost up to $10 million each.

Virtually all of Australia’s top 20 red meat processors now use large-scale plate freezers in their operations. JBS, Teys, NH Foods and Thomas Foods International are all heavily committed to the technology.

A large installation was completed at Teys Beenleigh (Qld) last year; and more recent projects have gone in at Northern Cooperative Meat Co at Casino, NSW; and Linley Valley in WA. Just three weeks ago, the latest unit was commissioned at John Dee near Warwick (see yesterday’s separate article).

Sheep processing facilities have also been active, including a large installation last year at Fletcher International’s Dubbo mutton and lamb plant.

JBS Dinmore, the largest beef processing plant in the southern hemisphere, operates no less than ten of the large-scale plater freezer units, allowing the facility to freeze up to 800 tonnes of carton meat daily. The compelling performance reasons why Australian meat processors are making these investment commitments in plate freezing are set out elsewhere in this article.

Australia’s dedicated export focus

The Australian beef industry’s heavy orientation towards export is one reason why plate freezers have been adopted so widely in red meat processing in this country over the past few years.

Last year, more than 70pc of all beef produced in Australia went into export markets, and of that, almost 740,000t, or 72pc, went out in in frozen form.

In contrast, adoption of large-scale plate freezers in competing beef producing countries overseas has been remarkably low. In the US for example, about 90pc of beef is consumed domestically, and US exports tend to be in higher-end chilled product. This removes some of the need for plate freezer infrastructure. In South America, there is almost no use of plate freezers yet in beef processing, but the region is seen as a potential growth market for the technology.

One factor has clearly sparked Australia’s recent massive investment in plate freezers is processor profitability. The high margins enjoyed by processors during 2014-15 years – when slaughter cattle were cheap and abundant due to drought conditions, and international beef demand exploded with the arrival of new markets like China – has been a big driver in investment.

bad as conditions are currently for processors, those high-profit years
provided a ‘piggy bank’ which is now being re-invested in expensive plant
infrastructure like plate freezers, to try to stay ahead of international
export competition.

Brendan Dever

Brendan Dever has been involved with plate freezing development and
installation since 1985

development specialist with Milmeq, Brendan Dever, has seen a lot of changes in
processing over the past 30 years, since working on the first plater freezer
installation in 1986.

agrees that profitability had sparked the rush of installations seen in recent

saw a real drought in orders for plate freezing systems between around 2009 and
2013,” he told Beef Central during a recent interview.

coincided with the global financial crisis, and the lack of processor
profitability during the very wet years of 2011-12, when producers held cattle
back to build herds, forcing processors to pay higher prices for stock.

factor was the movement in the A$,” Mr Dever said. “In the years leading up to
2014, quite a lot of our processor clients told us that when the A$ went below
US85-90c in value, they would start talking again about buying plate freezers.
And that’s exactly what happened,” he said.

are plate freezers, and why are they so special?

the name suggests, plate freezers are composed of an insulated room that holds
banks of large, horizontal freezing plates positioned within a steel frame.
Liquid ammonia circulates through the movable plates, enabling them to rapidly
and efficiently cool cartons of meat by transferring heat by conduction from
the product to the evaporator. Up to 40 levels of plates, called stations,
stacked up to 20 metres high, are included in some systems.

freezers replace conventional blast freezing tunnels, which are simply
insulated coldrooms circulating fan-forced cold air.

smaller plate freezing systems have been in use worldwide for decades, they
were limited to freezing thin carton blocks, no deeper than 75mm, typically
used for seafood. It was the Australian-development of so-called large-scale
plate freezers that allowed typical 27kg meat cartons up to 175mm deep to be
handled, that was the catalyst for adoption in beef plants.

first prototype designed by Milmeq founder Klaus Visser was installed at
Tancreds Meatworks at Beaudesert in 1985, under a Federal Government-backed
project designed to deliver greater efficiencies and productivity in red meat
processing. The old CSIRO Meat Research Laboratory at Cannon Hill was also
heavily involved.

the original designs were small, manually-loaded setups handing only 100-200
cartons at a time, modern automatically-loaded and unloaded systems range
anywhere up to 3000 cartons in capacity. Sometimes multiple systems are
installed in the same plant. New innovations, including single-station opening,
are providing further attractions for smaller-scale plants and more efficient

up the advantages

of a modern plate freezer facility can cost more than $10 million for the
largest applications, including the insulated building itself and automated
loading and unloading. But Milmeq says it also does a lot of installations in
smaller factories in the $1-$4 million range. Total investment in the
technology may have topped $50-$80 million in the past three or four years, one
estimate suggested.

freezers may carry an eye-watering installation cost, but once in operation,
offer a host of advantages. The mains ones include:


handled in a conventional blast freezer can distort and ‘bow’ as the product
freezes and expands. This can create problems with stacking and pallet
stability, and can compromise the total volume of beef than can be loaded into
a shipping container. Cartons frozen in a plate freezer remain absolutely
square, like bricks, because of the flat-sided plate compression from both
sides. Some processors claim they can load an additional 1.5 tonnes of
plate-frozen product into a 20-foot export container, because of better carton
shape. Equally at the other end, the product opens-up and transports much better.

freezing cycles:

typical conventional airblast freezer will take 48 hours to fully-freeze a load
of 27kg meat cartons, meaning twice as much capacity is needed to freeze each
day’s kill. In contrast, much more efficient plate freezers work on a 24-hour
freezing cycle (many complete the job in 16-20 hours), meaning only half-as
much capacity is needed for each day’s kill. That, in turn, provides an
inventory saving, meaning the processor needs to ‘own’ one day’s less
production between slaughtering and market.


round numbers, a typical plate freezer installation will use about 90Kw of
electricity to freeze one tonne of meat. Compare that with even the most modern
air-blast style freezers which use about 125kW/t, and it represents an energy
saving of around 30pc.

safety, meat quality:

rapid, even freezing produces a better quality product when thawed, and
especially in items like offals, has significant food safety implications.
Essentially, quicker cooling time means less chance for bacterial development.

Read More