Achieving a homogenous blend is one of the most vital outputs of your production line. Not only is it the stage that adds value to the ingredients, but it ensures a high-quality end product that maintains your customer satisfaction and warrants your sales price. Using the right industrial mixer can deliver product quicker, cleaner, leaner and cheaper and will also boost your profit margins in more ways than one.
The False Economy of a Fixed Industrial Mixer
In-line production systems feature fixed equipment that means only certain elements of the processing line can be used at one time. When one piece of equipment is in use another is invariably idling.
This is less problematic if you produce a single product. However, if your customers are demanding greater variety and your product line is expanding, every second counts.
The product literature that accompanies a fixed industrial mixer will often promote super-quick mixing. But a focus on blend time only reflects production speed at one point of the process. Ignoring end-to-end processing times can be a costly mistake when deciding on the best blending equipment to purchase.
Faster End-to-End Processing
Ignore standalone blending times and consider how long it takes the mixer to be filled, emptied and made ready to go back into operation. It might only take four minutes to blend but loading could take two hours and packing three, giving a total time of just over five hours. And that’s without factoring in cleaning times.
One solution is to take an in-bin IBC blending approach which allows you to combine materials in individual, moveable bulk containers.
Although the blend cycle itself may take 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll save significant amounts of time on other process stages because the following steps are undertaken independently:
- Recipe formulation
With a container based IBC system, filling, mixing and packing take place simultaneously improving efficiency because waiting times are eliminated and product can flow around the system more effectively creating a lean manufacturing environment.
Good Design Reduces Cleaning Times
It’s difficult to ensure a fixed industrial mixer attached to a conveyor is completely clean. Depending on the recipe, cleaning can take from half an hour to a full eight-hour shift for traditional mixers.
With IBCs, the blending container is detachable from the processing line and the blender itself. Which means cleaning can be completed offline enhancing operational efficiency as the production line continues to run with clean bins.
Matcon’s IBCs have been designed so there’s nowhere for ingredients to become trapped. Not only does this reduce cleaning downtime but it stops pricy ingredients from clinging to walls, paddles and bearings where they are washed away.
IBCs also prevent product from escaping into the air where it can settle on other machinery or the floor. This reduces plant cleaning requirements and frees up personnel for value-adding work.
Lean Production Means Separating Equipment
In-line set-ups with a large fixed industrial mixer coupled to the upstream and downstream processing stages mean only one product can be produced at a time.
Manufacturers in sectors as diverse as pharmaceutical, infant and sports nutrition, baking and pet food have realised the limitations of this approach. And they’re using IBCs to ramp up production and create capacity for new products.
If your business wants to meet consumer demand for a high variety of goods, lean batch processing is the only solution.
IBCs can help you keep up with the competition by decoupling process steps so different batches can run simultaneously. Because the system is contained there is no risk of cross-contamination.
And the increased flexibility of the production process creates windows of opportunity to take on additional business in the form of rush jobs. Plus, if your R&D team identify a consumer trend before your competitors, you’re better placed to exploit the gap in the market.
All of which means it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Countless Ways to Make Production Cheaper
The additional revenue-generating options generated by lean production processing are fantastic. But there are also plenty of other areas where IBCs save money:
- Fewer changeovers means more up-time and enhanced overall equipment effectiveness
- Reduced cleaning needs can mean fewer shifts are required
- Simultaneous processing can require fewer people to deliver the same amount of end product
Another often-overlooked area for potential cost saving is floor space. Reduced space requirements can mean a smaller factory and lower overheads. The reduced footprint of Matcon’s IBCs makes them great for businesses where room is an issue. And the sealed units optimise factory space by enabling product to be stored in areas with low hygiene control.
Matcon’s IBCs are also great for growing organisations; by reducing the floor space your equipment takes up, you can create more room for other equipment allowing your business to expand.
Not all industrial mixers are born equal. Download our handy guide to choosing the right blender and see how the correct blending technology can make your production processes faster, cleaner, leaner and cheaper to run.