Many processors use top entry agitators in process tanks. This oftentimes requires employees to carry sacks of product to the top of the tank to open, then add, to the batch.
However, overexertion and slips and falls are the most common workplace injuries. Activities like climbing ladders and carrying heavy sacks of product are unsafe, not to mention, inefficient.
Today’s manufacturers are looking for ways to make work environments safer, while also improving processes and quality of the product. In some cases, powder mixer systems are the answer. Here are two examples where adding a powder mixer to the process allowed manufacturers to make huge strides in these areas.
How A Small Change For Safety Cut Chemical Blending Time By 99%
It was a chemical blending recipe for disaster.
To blend a batch of chemicals in this plant, employees used a scissors lift to take 500 – 55-pound bags of powder to the top of a large tank where they would be opened and emptied. Realizing that this was a safety accident waiting to happen, the Plant Engineer at this chemical manufacturer decided to find a solution that would be safer for employees, and could potentially improve the process too.
The Plant Engineer called his account manager at Crane Engineering.
When the account manager arrived to assess the situation, the Plant Engineer explained his safety concerns, then went on to further describe the process of producing the batch.
Once employees added the powder to the tank, an external pump would recirculate the fluid, pulling from the bottom of the tank, and discharging on top. An electric immersion heater helps aid the dissolving of the powder. This system produced a very slow blending effect, so slow in fact, it would take 72 hours to produce a single batch.
Therefore, the goal for the project would be for employees to add powder on the ground level and also provide a satisfactory blend for both 1,000-gallon and 5,000-gallon tanks.
It wasn’t long before engineers back at Crane Engineering found a solution. A blending and pump system would be the safest option for operators. The industrial powder mixer system would operate at floor-level, eliminating the need for the scissor lift and the dangers that come with it (accidental falls or dropped bags). The powder mixer system also uses a waist-height funnel on top so operators would not need to bend to pour the powder.
The pump system included a dual function chemical blending pump that would recirculate the fluid in the tank. This pump had a specialized impeller with teeth on the outer diameter. The tight gaps and high speeds would impart high shear on the product.
The account manager did some calculations to find out what cost savings could be realized. He found the following:
- Production time would be SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. From 72 hours to 34 minutes. A 99.21% reduction in production time!
- Heating costs would be reduced due to the pump imparting high shear on the chemical, reducing the dissolving time
- Power saved on the pump due to a shorter run time
The manufacturer got on board with the system and was impressed by the speed and blend quality, not to mention thrilled with leaving the scissors lift out of the process.
The manufacturer has since purchased a second system.
Addition of Powder Mixer Eliminates Need to Climb Ladders
It’s common for sucrose processors to use top entry mixers to add sugar to water. At this processor, employees were required to carry 47 100lb bags up a ladder to add to the tank. Plant engineers realized the risk for a fall was too great and decided to look for another way.
They too realized that a powder mixer system would allow for quick induction of liquid and dry ingredients at the ground level. The suction of the unit allows for induction into the water at 600 lbs per minute. Much faster than carrying 100lb sacks. The processor saved an estimated 30 minutes per batch.
Creating the safest work environment for employees is crucial. If your process involves heavy lifting and climbing, consider a powder mixing system instead. Not only will you protect employees from the most common workplace injuries, but you could also achieve a faster and even better mix.
Is it time to re-evaluate a mixing bottleneck in your process? Talk to an engineer experienced in a variety of mixing and blending applications. They can help you select the right technology to save the most time possible in your batch processing.
Wondering how to get a better mix? Ask us about it! We gladly provide technical assistance to businesses and municipalities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan's upper peninsula.