Plant-based milk alternatives

Plant-based milk alternatives with the Handtmann Inotec automatic processing unit

New process engineering and state-of-the-art technologies create opportunities for the implementation of innovative new products, such as plant-based milk alternatives. Handtmann offers automatic processing units and universal processing units for the production of hot and cold milk alternatives that can be used for simultaneous heating, mixing and emulsifying. The entire range of pasty and liquid milk substitutes can be produced using these processing units.

With Handtmann Inotec, products such as plant-based milk alternatives (but also cheese alternatives) are processed in a compact, closed complete system. Chunky raw material is pre-ground in the processing tank and mixed with dry materials and liquids. The mixture can be heated by direct steam injection or optionally heated or cooled indirectly with a double jacket. An additional vacuum system allows the product mixture to be evacuated and liquids or dry substances to be sucked in. During or after the cooking process, the product can be run through the multi-step, modular ultra-fine grinder. This is used for emulsifying, homogenising, pumping and discharging the product into downstream filling systems. Handtmann Inotec BC175iT automatic processing units are equipped with CIP preparation as standard, the BC140iT as an option.


An example of this process is the production of almond/macadamia/cashew milk using the Handtmann Inotec BC140-iT-300 automatic processing unit in Colombia. Water is added to the components in the processing tank. The mixture is pumped through the inline grinder and back into the processing tank. Ingredients such as nuts, almonds and also the dry ingredients are added during the pumping process. This complex process step only takes about 5 minutes. The plant-based milk is then pumped off for further processing. The products are usually filled in Brik packaging. Handtmann Inotec process technology is applied in Germany to produce plant-based milk alternatives. In these manufacturing processes, water, nuts and dry powder are dosed in customer packaging systems upstream of the Handtmann Inotec inline grinder.


The challenge in the production of plant-based milk alternatives is the optimal ultra-fine grinding of the chunky nuts or almonds as well as the merging of ingredients in a wide variety of consistencies, such as liquid, chunky, powdery and crystallising. Water, nuts/almonds, sugar and powdered ingredients are optimally homogenised in the process of wet grinding with Handtmann Inotec processing units, from pre-grinding to cooking with an adjustable cooking temperature up to 99 °C and discharging. The modular 1- to 4-step cutting system is at the core of the grinding process and the centrepiece of the automatic processing unit. Thanks to automatic cutting set adjustment, precise position setting and continuous readjustment in the horizontally movable cutter housing, consistent product quality is ensured.

The overall process is easily controlled using the Inotec Process Sequence Control. Irrespective of the operation, constant production results are ensured by the automatic setting of all product and production parameters. All work is carried out with photographic support from the outside, ensuring maximum operational safety and user-friendliness. Designed for tough, continuous industrial operation, the BC140iT automatic processing unit and the BC175iT universal processing unit can be perfectly deployed not only as stand-alone machines in the production process, but also for integration into existing processing systems.