ZPS Carob Grinding

The Pedro Pérez Martínez S.L. grinds and classifiers with ZPS

Carob-Powder: Super food, super fine

Whether fresh or dried, processed to syrup or fermented to alcoholic drinks: the fruit of the carob tree, also known as locust bean pods, are cultivated above all in the Mediterranean region and have been popular as a versatile foodstuff for centuries. Today, the foodstuffs industry attaches increasing importance to the positive and functional properties of the nutritious legume.

Carob is highly valued in any field of nutrition due to its nutritional properties and new market trends. It is a natural ingredient being highly energetic, rich in bioactive compounds and fibre, and a source of minerals and vitamins, containing 0% fat. Its caramel taste makes ‘carob powder’ a healthy substitute for cacao to be used in sweet spreads for breads or bakery with no need to add sugar or other sweeteners.

"We were searching for a grinding system which was laid out for maximum end-product fineness
values at simultaneously high throughputs."

Enrique Pérez Martínez, CEO at Pedro Pérez Marínez S.L.

Traditional company with state-of-the-art technology

The company Pedro Pérez Martínez S.L.U, located in Spain, is specialised in the processing of carob pods since 1963 and committed with the production of high added value products from the carob fruit. In its early years, its market was focused on animal feed for regional farmers, but currently the products of this company are internationally implemented and cover a wide range of application areas: in human consumption, pet food and animal feed.

Pedro Pérez is capable of manufacturing a wide range of kibbled carob in different particle sizes, from over 8 mm to < 1 mm, both in raw or dehydrated. This makes the company one of the leading carob suppliers for the global animal feed and foodstuffs industry. However, the company was looking forward to launching a new innovative product by developing an exclusive ultrafine ground carob powder.

"We were searching for a grinding system which was laid out for maximum end-product fineness values at simultaneously high throughputs", says CEO Enrique Pérez Martínez to explain the background.

And this is why a Hosokawa Alpine Zirkoplex ZPS 630 has been in operation at Pedro Pérez since early 2019. The numerous advantages of the Alpine classifier mill such as the steplessly adjustable fineness or the cool grinding thanks to the high air flow rate convinced the Spanish comminution specialists. "What tipped the scales in favour of the mill was the possibility of performing trials on a production scale in Hosokawa Alpine's own application testing centre", says Enrique Pérez Martínez in explanation of his reasons for purchasing the system.

High-tech grinding equipment for special requirements

Hosokawa Alpine has extensive experience in the processing of thickening agents. The Augsburg machine builders cover the entire process chain from comminution, drying and grinding to blending and mixing.

The Zirkoplex ZPS is tailored exactly to the peripheral conditions at Pedro Pérez and guarantees compliance with the highest safety and hygiene requirements as well as the requisite process stability. The classifier mill convinces with high throughput rates in the fineness range between 75 and 200 µm at simultaneous low energy consumption.

Because at this fineness, carob powder is known to be a dust explosion hazard, the Hosokawa Alpine ZPS installed at Pedro Pérez conforms with the ATEX regulations and is in pressure-shock-relieved design to 1.4 bar.

Complex production process: Zirkoplex ZPS guarantees highest quality

"The highest quality is the only way to total satisfaction". According to this guiding principle from Pedro Pérez, the production process of the ultrafine ground carob powder starts with the quality control of its raw material, the carob pod. These carefully selected carob pods are pre-milled, sieved by size, cleaned of foreign materials and transported pneumatically to the classifier mill. The next step, the micronisation to the desired end-product fineness of 97% < 75µm, is performed by the Hosokawa Alpine ZPS classifier mill.

"Our electrical engineers connected up on-line to the system in Spain and installed set-ups in the process automation system.
This then resulted in an optimised product quality on site."

Jürgen Zeller, Sales Manager at Hosokawa Alpine

Think globally: service and teamwork in international cooperation

Design tests in the Alpine application testing centre, coordination by the agent, commissioning in Spain – the cooperation between Hosokawa Alpine and Pedro Pérez was characterised by international processes: "A well-coordinated and clear communication was vitally important for this project. Only in this way was it possible to find the best solution for this special application. We are happy to say that the project management between the German manufacturer Hosokawa Alpine and the Spanish commercial agents Clave XXI, S.L. functioned perfectly“, summarises Jürgen Zeller, Sales Manager at Hosokawa Alpine.

A modern, international project environment calls for creative solutions: besides the teamwork, Hosokawa Alpine scores high marks with its comprehensive all-round services. It was thus possible, for example, to solve problems with the system in Spain via a remote maintenance software in Germany: "Our electrical engineers connected up on-line to the system in Spain and installed set-ups in the process automation system. This then resulted in an optimised product quality on site" explains Zeller.

Sustainable awareness for product quality

From cultivation of the carob trees to grinding the pods, Pedro Pérez – as a certified organic company – sets great store by a sustainable production process. The Hosokawa Alpine Zirkoplex ZPS ensures this and guarantees the production of high-grade and environmentally friendly products. "The gentle comminution performed by the ZPS classifier mill in combination with our dehydrogenation process makes it possible for us to retain in a natural way all the nutritious and functional properties of the carob pod in the ultrafine 'demicrocarob' powder", says Enrique Pérez Martínez.

More than pleased with the results of the new system, Pedro Pérez has discovered even more advantages of the classifier mill from Hosokawa Alpine. "The mill is extremely energy-efficient and because of its flexibility, is universal in use", says Enrique Pérez Martínez. Thanks to the Hosokawa Alpine mill, it has been possible for Pedro Pérez to consolidate the innovative edge over the competition even more and to stabilise the requisite economic foundations.

As a result of this project the company has developed a new innovative product: BEFLESH Mediterranean carob (this project has received the funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 829699). This product is 100% pure raw carob powder, produced with a very innovative technology which respects the original beneficial properties of the carob fruit, and has an exclusive particle size suitable to be used as a functional ingredient in a wide range of food products. BEFLESH is the best ‘healthy’ substitute for cocoa powder - free from caffeine and theobromine and low in fat - as well as a ‘natural’ sweetener or a ‘beneficial’ flour, to be used in our daily food, increasing significantly its dietary fibre and polyphenol content.

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