The hardening vat is the last component in the processing line for pasta filata cheeses, which contains cold water to cool the products prior to packaging. GEA offers a range of robust, hygienic, modular hardening vats that can be configured to meet any cheese type or production throughput.
GEA hardening vats are constructed in AISI 304 stainless steel. A complete system comprises an initial module that houses the motorization for conveying products through the vat, a number of central, cold water-filled 4 m vats through which the cheeses are transported, and a final module that includes the extraction belt for removal of the cooled cheeses. The total length and capacity of the vat can be configured to meet the required production throughput, and can be easily expanded or reduced by adding or removing modules.
The cheeses arriving from the molding machine are transferred into the vat via a loading hopper. The products are conveyed along the vat from one end to the other by a system that combines a crank-operated series of oscillating stainless steel beds at the base of the vat, and a series of adjustable water jets above the vat. The oscillating beds can be set at different cycles that either keep advancing the products through the vat, or retain them in one position for a required length of time. At the end of the unit the cheeses are extracted automatically using a motorized belt.
GEA systems can be tailored to fit any plant layout. To reduce footprint we can also design and configure hardening vats constructed on two or more levels. Vertically configured solutions feature a pneumatic lifting system to transfer products between levels.
Features of GEA hardening vats include pipework and centrifugal pump for recycling of cooling water by recirculation through a heat exchanger. The pump also recovers cleaning solutions after a cleaning cycle. Electrical controls are housed in a waterproof panel.