In the food industry, quality control is paramount. This is particularly relevant in manufacturing dry spices, herbs, and seasoning products. Such dry mixes can have varying bulk densities and particle sizes, and therefore be prone to mix segregation after blending if they are not handled correctly. With the added complications of cleaning, cross-contamination, and the need to meet food hygiene standards such as FDA requirements, spice and seasoning mixing is a complex process that needs the right methods and equipment.
What is a Butterfly Valve?
Often used in food manufacture, the butterfly valve is used to control the flow of materials. The valve functions by completely opening or shutting as the disc rotates up to 90 degrees. In the case of spice and seasoning blends, it is commonly used to regulate the flow of dry materials, often from one process to another, such as after blending into a packing machine.
Disadvantages of the Butterfly Valve
1. Not designed for dry material mixtures
The butterfly valve is not optimally designed to handle blended dry materials. It can be damaged by some abrasive dry bulk solids, leading to erosion on the valve to the point where it can no longer achieve an effective seal and needs replacing.
2. Disc impedes material flow stream
The nature of the butterfly valve design places the disc in the centre of the material flow stream. This can create a significant restriction on the flow, creating blockages and causing powder mix segregation. In spice and seasoning manufacturing, this means low product throughput, poor product integrity and waste.
3. Inability to control the flow
While the butterfly valve allows some regulation over the flow, it does not allow for precise control over the flow stream. If the powders are free-flowing it can be hard to control the amount of material being fed into the equipment downstream. This is because the butterfly valve cannot easily be shut off when product is flowing. It is also difficult to part open the valve and allow a small amount of material to flow. This can lead to powder flooding downstream equipment and poor containment as it leaks from the equipment. .
4. Issues with contamination
As with all food manufacture, it is essential to always meet the relevant guidelines for safe hygienic manufacturing (FDA). The nature of a butterfly valve makes the pivot area of the disc (valve) hard to clean to the required standards as bulk dry solids cause wear points if soft seals are used leading to potential quality control issues.
An effective alternative to Butterfly valves
The Matcon Manual Cone Valve is a manually operated discharge device that is fitted to the outlet of an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC). It has been designed to deliver a superior discharge process to butterfly valves.
The unit comprises a valve body with a single-sided arm that supports a cone valve raised using a lever handle. The lever can be locked in the open or closed positions or any intermediate position via a locking handle, depending on the desired flow rate of discharge. As the Cone Valve rises inside the IBC, the annular gap created promotes mass-flow of the dry materials as they exit the IBC. With a stainless-steel grade 316L construction and FDA-approved seals, it is optimally designed for use in the food industry.
Four advantages of the manual cone valve
1. Mass flow vs funnel flow
As many spice and seasoning mixes contain different densities and particle sizes, the risk of segregation is very high. Butterfly valves promote a funnel flow, whereby the product located at the centre of the container will move much faster than the product located at the sides. The Manual Cone Valve delivers a mass flow that mixes the different streams within the IBC, eliminating segregation.
2. Improved product yield
Segregation issues can severely impact product yield, with as much as 10% of the overall output being unsuitable for market. By eliminating poorly mixed product and segregation errors, it is possible to achieve a greatly improved product yield. In short, it will achieve a consistent mix from the first container to the last, with no rejects.
3. Flexibility and containment
The Manual Cone Valve is ideal for use with smaller vessels and intermediate-size mixers. Easy to decouple from the mixer, this increased flexibility means manufacturers can quickly change recipes. In addition, the closed system design gives full dust containment for a cleaner environment and operator safety.
4. Cost-effective and easy to retrofit
At a price point that’s highly cost-effective, the Manual Cone Valve will quickly earn its keep by optimizing production flow and improving product yield. Plus, there’s no need to update all your systems and equipment when you make the switch. The Manual Cone Valve is easily retrofitted to all IBC containers and is supplied with a fastening assembly kit.
In the words of an expert:
“The Matcon Manual Cone Valve gives superior performance to butterfly valves. Specifically designed for free-flowing powders such as spice mixes, it prevents issues such as rat-holing and segregation and delivers the full discharge of powder with no waste. It also provides contained powder handling for a safer, cleaner process.” Phil Spuler, Regional Sales Manager Matcon.
Effective Powder Handling Systems
In applications involving sticky, cohesive powders or where automation is required, we recommend using the Classic Matcon IBC System
To find out more about this innovative new addition to the Matcon range of IBC technology, visit the Matcon Valves Page.