An oven is used to heat and/or sterilize food products in an open or semi-open environment using a predetermined thermal process. Various microorganisms are present in food products, and it’s important to fully complete the thermal process prior to using heat-processed food items elsewhere in the operation. Most food ovens employ a belt system to move food through the heating zone.
In addition to food products, some industrial products are processed in ovens. The range of items processed with industrial ovens is wide and can include oil products (plastics) as well as fabrics (including industrial dryers).
A final type of oven is used in the pharmaceutical and medical fields for the purpose of depyrogenation (reduction of fever-causing microbes). These types of ovens are usually smaller and require more stringent controls for processing. Because of that, they are usually of a batch style (requiring racks or baskets) vs. a continuous system (belt-driven).
Process temperatures in ovens range from 250°F to 800°F (121°C – 425°C) and most ovens use dry heat (air) to deliver the thermal process. Ovens can use vacuum, normal air pressure, or additional air pressure in the processing environment.