Smokehouse quotes can be tricky to compare, especially when investing in an industrial oven for the first time.
Most food processors look at one number on a quote — the total cost. It makes sense. You have a budget to keep, finances to gather, and ultimately want to know how much you need to spend in order to get the smokehouse you need.
Total cost on a quote, however, can be deceptive.
Preparing your facility for a smokehouse installation is an essential step in purchasing an industrial oven.
Not only does proper preparation ensure a quick and easy installation of your new oven, it also affects the life and operation of the oven.
Bumps in the flooring under the oven, lack of filters on water and air supplies, improper pressure on utilities, even the wrong floor slope can all wreak havoc on your oven, causing serious structural and operational problems down the road — most of which will not be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.
The air flow, or more specifically the breakpoint, is the most important feature in any smokehouse or dehydrator.
This one feature alone is what cooks product in the oven — and is ultimately responsible for product yields, consistency, and color, as well as cook time.
If you want to improve product yields, consistency, or color, it all starts with being able to improve and control the breakpoint. The more control you have to set the location and duration of the breakpoint in any one specific spot in the oven, the greater your yields and consistency. The opposite is also true: the inability to control the location and duration of the breakpoint in an oven will always result in less than optimal yields and consistency.
It seems to reason then that the design of the oven cabinet should help strengthen and improve the breakpoint.
The door seal is a vitally important part of any industrial smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam oven.
This one component is responsible for keeping the oven doors sealed tightly in the frame, preventing heat and steam from escaping the cabinet, and in some oven designs, keeps the doors closed.
Imagine the cost you would pay if the oven didn’t have a door seal: utility expenses would spike with the loss of heat from the oven, employees would be burned just being near the oven, and product wouldn’t cook consistently, resulting in product rejections.
The door seal is that important, but not all styles of door seals are created equal.
Choosing a spray nozzle for the clean-in-place (CIP) system in a smokehouse or dehydrator doesn’t seem all that important, especially when compared to choosing a heating source, damper control system, or the main fan.
While the spray nozzle may be just a small component part, it plays a big role in effectively cleaning an oven — and reducing the risk of product contamination that can occur in an oven that is not properly cleaned.
The right spray nozzle will give you maximum coverage to clean the inside of the oven. The wrong spray nozzle, however, will give you the illusion of being clean, while leaving a good portion of the oven untouched by cleaning solution — a huge no-no in the world of food processing.
Good record keeping is an essential part of any smokehouse or dehydrator thermometer calibration.
The ability to review temperature differences, comments from previous calibrations, who performed the calibration, and if the thermometer needs to be replaced is essential to any HACCP program — and will save you the headache of trying to track down the data later.
If you’re cooking product in a smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam cabinet, getting your team in the habit of calibrating thermometers on a regular basis and recording the results is a must!
Chain driven dampers were the industry standard for decades when it came to “controlling” the breakpoint in an industrial smokehouse or dehydrator.
If you have an older oven, or one manufactured in Europe, chances are the dampers are driven and kept at a 90 degree angle from each other using chains and sprockets.
While this design was revolutionary in the industry when it was first introduced, new technology and updated designs have made chain driven dampers a thing of the past — and a very ineffective way of controlling the breakpoint in an oven.
In order to understand why chain driven dampers should be avoided in a smokehouse or dehydrator, it’s beneficial to know what the breakpoint is and how it’s controlled.
Maintaining a food processing oven requires special tools to ensure the oven is operating at peak performance.
Evaluating air flow and speed, finding air leaks, setting dampers, determining static pressures and gas burner settings, and calibrating probes are normal, sometimes every day, maintenance tasks that require specialized tools.
Larger food processing companies likely already have these tools on hand. However, start-ups and smaller food processors may not have needed these oven maintenance tools before — and might not be equipped to properly maintain their oven when it is installed.
Commercial ovens, as with any food processing equipment, can pose serious safety hazards for employees.
Burns, pinch points, crush points, cuts, chemical burns, carbon dioxide suffocation, or being trapped in an oven while in the cook cycle are all possible if proper care is not taken when operating a commercial smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam oven — leading to serious injury or death.
As a food processing company, it is imperative that proper safety signs be posted on and around any commercial oven to notify employees of potential dangers associated with this piece of equipment.
Fusion Tech designs and manufacturers custom solutions for the food processing industry, as well as agriculture, transportation, and renewable fuels industries.
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