The Expert's Corner
Post Covid Strategies for More Efficient Production
January 31, 2023
With the door (finally!) closed on 2022 and the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in our rearview, manufacturers are looking towards the future with a new set of eyes and pain points. Supply chain woes, raw material delays, workforce shortages, increasing costs, and rising demand are forcing manufacturers to increase productivity and efficiency. Mixers and blenders are one of the most important pieces of equipment on any production floor. The most common cause of downtime is the use of incorrect or out-of-date equipment. Here are a few things to consider when you need to improve your processes and increase productivity.
Are you using the right mixer?
In reality, most applications can be mixed on a variety of different equipment that could produce the same end result, but the true cost of using the "wrong" mixer is time. In an ideal world, mixing equipment and procedures should be evaluated on a regular basis, as production needs change, and when new products or raw materials are introduced. Nevertheless, mixing is rarely upgraded until it becomes a source of drastic losses due to low yield, recurring contamination, or inconsistent product quality. Our expert team can help you evaluate your existing equipment and, in tandem with our state-of-the-art Test & Development Center, determine the right mixer for your changing needs.
Sometimes bigger is better.
As consumer demand rises and inflation continues to impact raw material prices, scaling up your production can save both time and money. Often times, manufacturers respond to the need for increased output by adding more mixers that are identical to their existing machines. While this strategy will improve output, it may not be the most cost-effective choice. With every square foot of floor space occupied by numerous small mixers, the associated labor and maintenance costs rise when a larger mixer could be used instead.
Is semi-continuous mixing right for your process?
Many mixing systems with capacities of up to 500 gallons can be supplied with a "change-can" design. Using interchangeable vessels and a single mixer, one tank could be at the loading stage, another under the mixer, another at the discharge stage, and yet another at the cleanup stage. This configuration optimizes both machine and labor utilization. Another useful feature of the change-can design is the ability to dedicate each vessel to a specific formulation, product color, or simplifying the cleaning process.
Utilize technology to simplify.
The method of introducing raw powdered material into a liquid batch has long been a critical variable in large-scale operations. Technologies such as the ROSS Solids/Liquid Injection Manifold (SLIM) can cut cycle times by 80% or more. Solids are injected into the recirculating liquid stream right within the high shear zone of the rotor/stator mix chamber, preventing the formation of agglomerates or "fish-eyes" in the batch. The rapid product turnover via recirculation through the high-speed rotor/stator mixer also helps to keep solids suspended in the batch so they can dissolve faster or simply maintain a uniform dispersion. After the mixing cycle, the inline SLIM can be used to pump the finished mixture downstream to the next piece of equipment or storage vessel.
Put the control in the palm of your hand.
The control system of your mixer plays an important role in optimizing production. More than just an interface between operator and machine, a well-specified control system also contributes to more consistent product quality, shorter changeover periods, and less room for operator errors. The ROSS interactive phone and tablet configurations are intended to save users time while keeping them connected. The mixer controls can also be set to send text or email messages about operating status, production concerns, and alarm notifications.
Automatic data logging is enabled by PLCs with customized human machine interface (HMI) and fully automated recipe management system, including supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) packages. Such systems enable complete traceability and meet regulatory requirements for sensitive applications such as food, pharmaceuticals, and medical products. PLCs, as a management tool, also make it easier to pool statistical data on typical workloads and bottlenecks.