Custom Food Processing Equipment and Systems


A ten year old model has a very sleek appearance. The ones Gem Equipment is manufacturing today appear to share ancestry with an early twentieth century steam locomotive. French fry potato fryers are the segment of Gem’s product line referred to by those statements. Ten years ago branch piping feeding CIP (Clean in Place) and fire protection nozzles was located under the hood. All this piping plus structure tied to the hood to lift the belt were inside the fryer. The result was a fryer with a very nice outside appearance. Under the hood was a totally different situation. All of the components under the hood and above the fryer oil level collected oil and fines and made cleaning the fryer much more difficult. Not only did all this hardware collect gunk, it blocked access for cleaning solutions from the CIP nozzles. This situation has been addressed by putting the distribution piping for CIP and fire protection nozzles outside the fryer on top of the hood. Each nozzle has its own hood penetration. Since the hood lifts, distribution piping has to be fed with hoses.

Most large fryers have a hood that is lifted with a jacking system. They also have a mechanism to lift the belt after the hood is part way up. These consist of horizontal brackets, each with a single hole, welded to the belt structure, and vertical rods, fastened to the hood structure. Each rod has a stop at the bottom and passes through the hole in the bracket. As the hood moves upward, the rods slide through the holes in the brackets until the stops on the rods contact the brackets. Then the belt starts rising with the hood. In the ten year old fryer, each pair of lifting rods are fastened to a structural pipe that runs the width of the fryer. The ends of these pipes are welded to the sides of the hood and are located a little below the top of the sides. These structural cross pipes have been replaced with channel structures welded to the outside of the hood. In addition to removing piping and structure from inside the fryer, CIP between product guides and the sides of the fryer kettle has been upgraded. The objective of this upgrade is to greatly reduce if not eliminate the buildup of oil mixed with fines between the product guides and sides of the kettle. At 390 degrees Fahrenheit, addition of air to this fines/oil mixture will cause a fire. As a result of these changes, not only is fire danger reduced, the inside of the fryer is much easier to clean.

The last upgrade to be discussed in this issue of the Memo concerns a major change to the fryer conveyor belt structural configuration. The following information applies only to fryers with belt returns outside the fryer kettle. On the ten year old fryer the head shaft did not lift with the belt. This was part of the compensation for the location of the belt return track which did not and still does not change when the hood lifts. Pin joints in product carrying section of the belt track allowed ends of the track to stay in same location while the middle of the belt track went up with the hood. Raising the belt provides access for cleanup and maintenance. On the current models, the head pulley and drive raise up with the hood, eliminating the need for the pin joints. A gravity take-up provides a place to store the extra belting when the hood and conveyor belt are down in the position required for fryer operation. Eliminating the pin joints in the tracks accommodated an upgrade in product guides. This upgrade reduces fire danger by reducing product leakage to the area between the product guides and sides of the fryer kettle. While these changes have increased cost, the benefits over the life of a fryer far outweigh the additional cost.