Finding new ways to improve efficiency and decrease overheads are key to the success of any manufacturing company, which is why investing in the right powder handling system for your needs, is so important.
To meet the needs of today’s market, your process needs to be flexible, intuitive and efficient. That’s where a decoupled Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) comes in. If you can’t produce the right product at the right time, you lose your competitive edge, and put your company at risk.
What is a decoupled system?
A decoupled system is based around Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs). These containers allow ingredients to be moved from stage to stage of a production process independently, creating the potential for multiple processes to take place at the same time.
Not only does a decoupled system provide you with the flexibility to carry out processes simultaneously, but it also has the potential to:
- Reduce the risk of cross-contamination
- Minimise product waste in the form of WIP
- Improve hygiene levels
- Decrease cleaning time
- Enable full control over product
Inefficiency of coupled systems
To truly understand the advantages of a decoupled system, it’s important to firstly understand the issues that might arise when using a coupled system.
If we take a coupled in-line powder mixing system, for example, it should have the technology to produce a good mix within approximately 5-15 minutes, which accounts to roughly 4-6 batches per hour. On paper, this type of system sounds ideal, and lots of suppliers provide this class of machine because of that. In reality though, the likelihood is that you won’t even manage to produce half of that predicted batch number, due to the coupled nature of the process. This drop in efficiency is down to a number of factors:
- Excessive filling time – if you are sack tipping, it can take up to two hours to fill a large mixer.
- Long cleaning time - you could be looking at a minimum of half an hour for a simple dry clean between non-allergen recipes, and up to 8 hours for a full wet clean and dry.
- Packing delays – as the system is coupled, you have to wait for the entire manufacturing process to take place before you can start packing. This is even further delayed if you have experienced segregation or de-mixing of a recipe, as this entire batch will have to be scrapped and the process started again.
These factors amount to a lot of lost time, and a significantly lower yield, which isn’t beneficial to anyone. By investing in a decoupled Matcon IBC system instead, you help to negate these issues and create a process where all areas of the production line are able to work concurrently.
The Matcon IBC Powder System process
In the Matcon decoupled Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) System, all of the manufacturing processes take place simultaneously. The containers themselves are not fixed, so you can be filling one IBC whilst another is being blended on the IBC Blender. Because the blending happens within the IBC itself, there is no need to clean the blender between recipes, eliminating lost time. The cleaning of the containers themselves is done when they’re not in use – containers can be taken in and out of the process as required, to remove the need for any downtime.
The Matcon System has been refined to provide manufacturers with the control that they need over their process to produce the best yield possible. Below we’ve broken down the Matcon process to illustrate how the system works from the ingredient stage to the finished product:
As the Matcon System is decoupled, powder recipes can be formulated and added directly into an IBC, at any time, by following either the Matcon Sack Tip process or the Flexibatch process.
Powder blending and mixing
The blending and mixing process takes place in the individual IBCs. The IBC is loaded onto the IBC Blender, and removed once it is complete, eliminating the need for cleaning between batches.
Cone Valve technology
The Matcon Cone Valve overcomes the issues associated with powder handling, from bridging and blockages, to segregation. The Cone Valve system employs integral cone vibration to stimulate the flow of cohesive materials, provides control over free-flowing powders, and promotes flow from the sides of the container to avoid segregation, whilst also be hygienic and easy to use.
The Cone Valve technology provides an automated, controlled and unsegregated powder flow into packing machinery or equipment, ensuring that the integrity of your product is maintained.
Cleaning of the IBCs can be performed when they are out of rotation, or ‘offline’. Automated or manual air and water wash options will ensure that your IBC cleaning is effective.
Investing in a decoupled system has the potential to provide you with the flexibility and control that you need to ensure that your process is as efficient as possible. At Matcon, the Cone Valve is at the heart of our system. It has been proven, by world leading manufacturers to greatly improve output, reduce downtime and product waste, and create the opportunity to outperform competitors.