ments are dictated. Microwave processing has been successfully applied on an industrial scale to cooking of meat and
bacon, tempering of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit, drying of snacks, vegetables and soybeans, and pasteurizing
of ready meals and pasta.
Food products prone to case hardening, in many cases, are optimal candidates for microwave drying. The high susceptibility of water to microwave energy means that the drying process is self-equalizing. Areas of high moisture content
draw more power than dryer ones. This is extremely useful for moisture leveling and conditioning of grains, as well as
foods like cookies and crackers.
In the event that a microwave system needs repair, what steps should a manufacturer take to ensure their line is
up and running again as soon as possible?
The first step is a call to technical support for a determination of the problem. Most times when a system needs repair,
the problem can be diagnosed with our technical service team over the phone. The second step is to follow the technical
support suggestions for repairing the system. If spare parts are available on-site, repairs can be made immediately and
downtime is minimized. We always recommend having spare parts
on hand for this reason. If the manufacturer is unable to affect
the repair with internal maintenance personnel, then request a
Make sure your microwave vendor is accessible and capable
of providing prompt and reliable service when you need it, ideally 24/7. Also make sure your vendor stocks a full line of replacement parts and is capable of responding quickly because prompt
and reliable field service is a must.
The best practice is ongoing preventative maintenance.
Frequent visual inspection of the overall system process and the operating condition of all motors and drives associated
with process will reduce system down time; this includes checking the cleanliness of the waveguides.
Establish a program to re-evaluate the efficiency of your microwave system. Once a system is installed for a designed
application, the efficiency will remain the same until the product parameters change. Any change in the material, e.g. a
change in width, depth or weight will require a re-evaluation of the system in order to maintain system efficiency.
What challenges do food manufacturers face when implementing a microwave system into their processes?
When evaluating the suitability of an industrial microwave system for a particular application, it is necessary to consider
the goal, materials and process requirements. In some instances, using microwaves for the process is already well established. For these situations, the challenges are internal and include calculating and communicating the benefits, risks,
requirements and costs to management. We can help you answer your questions and work through the process to determine if using microwaves for the process is beneficial.
When the process being considered is new or not well established, then development costs and risk of failure become
more important. Testing becomes crucial. Seek a microwave vendor with a well-equipped test facility. Since all processors have unique needs and parameters, it’s important to integrate their industrial microwave system into their operations
and understand the economical and quality production benefits that will result. ◆