Trends in palletising and handling logistics of frozen food

The European Frozen Food business is reported to be in excess of €75 billion and all indications are of strong continued growth across all the markets. The vast majority of those products, together with those in the Chilled Foods sector, will spend significant time being transported or stored on pallets.

Palletising Frozen Food Hero

Let´s have a look at how modern automated systems can help ensure these packaged products stay within the required temperature range, from the moment they leave the production line, until they are stacked on a pallet and stored in a cooled warehouse or loaded into a truck.

Typical frozen/chilled product categories:

  • Ice cream, dairy products, yoghurts
  • Frozen vegetables, french fries
  • Frozen bakery products, morning goods
  • Red meat, poultry, fish

Focus on advanced tracking and reducing energy consumption

With the need to maintain low product temperatures an absolute necessity, the process of palletising and conveying these frozen or chilled products created a need for dedicated fault free solutions.

Such solutions need not only to ensure the quick handling of the products and full pallets, but also reflect:

  • The need to fully track these within the site / monitoring that there is no interruption on the cold chain and if it occurs, being able to quickly react.
  • Growing pressure on reducing the energy consumption – every m³ to be cooled means significant costs, so the aim is to minimize the space needed for the handling equipment.
  • High reliability by keeping sensitive system elements at ambient temperature.

What to consider when planning an automation project

It starts with full understanding of the products to be packed, following the requirements for storing products at the right temperatures in order to ensure the product quality: (deep freeze, refrigerated, cold/cool).

Recommended Techniques:

  • Buffer pallet loads: Products buffered in block to keep the products at the required temperature for as long as possible.
  • Minimize time outside required temperature zone area to palletise: create pallet in 1 min, stretch wrap and label, transfer back to freezer.
  • Sensitive technology such as electronic elements, operator panels, measuring equipment, etc. should be kept outside the freezer.
  • Tracking of the pallets loads (full pallets): monitor and record how long outside of required temperature zone.

Multi-line palletiser with pack buffering as a preferred solution

SCOTT Automation developed a proven answer to this need, with clever Deep Freeze or Chilled Buffering, Product Handling and Multi-line Palletising Systems that maintain the integrity of frozen and chilled food products from the production line, through to low temperature (down to -25 °C) storage warehouses or delivery trucks.

The multi-line palletiser serves several production lines and is located in a separate area outside the freezer at ambient temperature. The packs are buffered on tables inside the freezer, then as soon as there are enough packs ready to fill a complete pallet, the system calls them up and conveys them to the palletiser. The full pallet is then transported quickly back to the freezer again.

Compared to end-of-line systems, this solution requires less space and fewer palletizers (multi-line solutions usually consist of one or two machines). The result is a simplification of pallet flows and a significant reduction in forklift movements. In addition, the real 'buffer zone' represented by the accumulation tables, allows the system to guarantee a better output from the production lines. All these factors, combined with a reliable and proven solution, contribute to substantially reduce the cost of ownership.

Buffer tables (on the left) are placed in the cooled/freezer area, the palletiser and wrapper (on the right) are located outside of it
Buffer tables (on the left) are placed in the cooled/freezer area, the palletiser and wrapper (on the right) are located outside of it

Scott Automation – proven expertise

Using expertise honed over years of installing these systems, SCOTT has established a clear position in the market for all producers of frozen or chilled food products who need to automatically palletise their production, without compromising quality control, and with minimal labour involvement. Many installations across Europe, often running on a 24/7 basis, are testament to the success of the SCOTT designs and systems, a claim supported by blue chip customers often returning for additional installations.

Learn More About Our Multi-line Palletising Solutions

These systems are designed to link several production lines to one or more palletisers - as soon as enough product is ready to fill a complete pallet, the system calls up the product, transports it to the palletisers, and takes care of the palletisation. The palletising machines are usually not placed in the production hall itself, ensuring the highest standards for product quality, hygiene and safety.

Multi-Line Palletising

Fully automatic multi-line palletising system for bakery products