More and more potato processors are turning to electrostatics to improve the way flavourings and coatings are added to potatoes and potato products.
UK-based Spice Application Systems (SAS) reports a 20% increase in orders over the last six months and says the technology is fast becoming recognised as a "must-have" component to help improve performance and product quality.
"Using electrostatics can make a dramatic difference, enabling manufacturers to achieve major savings by reducing the amount of powder wastage, deliver a much better end product for customers, and increase efficiency," said managing director Peter King.
"The technology allows exact control over minute quantities of powders and flavourings and delivers a 100% wraparound effect, which means every crisp or every chip is equally coated.
SAS's range of electrostatic equipment works across a range of potato processing needs, including the application of stiffening liquids onto blanched chips before flavours and coatings - such as spices and salts - are added after the initial cooking process.
Potato processors also use electrostatics to apply dill and oil to pre-cooked potatoes, as well as add oils, salts and flavourings to crisps and other formed potato-based snacks.
SAS has already installed more than 1,100 units on food processing lines around the world - with over 660 of them in potato snacks alone. The fact its equipment can be retrofitted onto existing production lines is seen as a big plus by many manufacturers, and the company has also developed new equipment to deal with issues such as fragile product breakage.
Its unique Death of the Drum Mk III system is especially suited for crisps, which are vulnerable to product breakage through traditional tumbling drum methods. It features a special dual-chamber electrostatic unit and revolutionary "flipover" process, enabling products to be electrostatically coated inside one chamber and then automatically flipped over as they travel along a vibratory tray into the second chamber for another coating.
"The potato snacks market is very exciting at the moment, there are new crisp manufacturers starting production and other companies who are expanding, so the competition is hotting up and electrostatics is becoming the key to real competitive advantage," added King.
"Not only does electrostatics provide much improved coverage, but it reduces the amount of dust in the air, making for a cleaner working environment with much less downtime for cleaning - saving on electricity and improving production times."
For companies looking to test out the new technology, SAS has a working demonstration site in Belgium, enabling potential customers to carry out electrostatic trials and test new products and flavours.
For more information visit www.spiceapplications.com