Efficiency and overheads are two of the major factors that manufacturers strive to influence on their production lines. The ability to improve these are pivotal to the success of a company, which is why choosing a powder handling system that addresses these areas of concern is so vital.
A manufacturer must be efficient, productive and profitable; and so too should their manufacturing process. This is where a decoupled Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) comes in.
What is a decoupled IBC system?
A decoupled IBC system is a production process that allows multiple stages in a production line to be used simultaneously, thereby creating increased capacity. This altered capacity is achieved by the use of independent, portable containers – IBCs – that are moved between production line process steps. In practice, you could have one container being filled, another on the mixer, a third dispensing in the packing area, whilst a fourth is being cleaned ready to go back into rotation. This system set-up allows you to produce multiple products at any given time.
A decoupled powder handling system also has the potential to improve other factors in your manufacturing process, such as:
- Reducing the risk of cross-contamination, as the ingredients remain sealed in an IBC throughout the complete manufacturing process
- Decreasing cleaning time, as containers are able to be cleaned whilst they are out of rotation or ‘offline’
- Minimising product waste, as ingredients are less at risk to human error
Why is decoupling better?
To appreciate the full benefits of a decoupled system, it’s key to first understand how a traditional coupled system hinders efficiency.
On paper, a coupled system set to its optimal level, looks reasonably efficient at manufacturing product. But, unfortunately, this is rarely the case in practice. Issues often arise within the production line, that cause delays and downtime, such as:
- Filling times – with the fixed nature of a coupled system, the entire production line has to be put on hold whilst a mixer is being filled. This process can take up to two hours, which is an extensive amount of time to lose when none of your operators or expensive machinery are in use.
- Cleaning times – as the mixer is unable to be removed from the production line for cleaning, the entire system is brought to a standstill between batches. Typically, you would be looking at a downtime somewhere between half an hour for a simple non-allergen clean, and up to eight hours for an extensive wet clean.
- Product issues – segregation and bridging are common issues associated with powder handling, but when these problems arise in a coupled system, the full production line is put on hold. If it turns out that the product needs to be scrapped, this equates to a lot of lost time and the need for the cleaning and filling process to take place again, creating further delays and costs.
In contrast, a decoupled system has the potential to perform these operations, without halting the entire manufacturing process. IBCs can be removed from rotation to be cleaned or filled, whilst other containers remain on the production line, eliminating down time.
When faced with the issues associated with powder handling, not all IBCs are able to overcome them, so you remain at the same risk level for scrapped product. However, you will experience a reduction in the amount of time lost on production, as other products are being manufactured simultaneously.
To truly solve the issues that come with manufacturing powder-based products, you need to identify a system that is designed to be effective in powder handling.
The Matcon IBC System
The decoupled Matcon System has been designed to overcome all of the manufacturing issues associated with powder handling. At the heart of this system sits unique Cone Valve technology, that implements integral cone vibration to encourage the flow of ingredients. This system greatly reduces the risk of mix segregation, bridging and blockages, as the Cone Valve technology encourages a fully controlled, mass product flow, and is suitable for even the most fragile powders. Its dust-free design and fully automatic operation, creates an accurate and flexible powder handling manufacturing solution, that guarantees an impressive yield. Other benefits of the Matcon IBC System include:
Improved formulation process
Powder recipes can be formulated and added to an IBC whilst it is offline, removing the downtime that filling creates in traditional coupled systems.
Reduced cross-contamination risk
The IBCs are able to move from one process to another, without the need for batch mixes to leave the containers until the packing process, minimising the potential for cross-contamination, as ingredients remain sealed in their dedicated IBC throughout the manufacturing process.
Offline and reduced cleaning
The portable nature of IBCs means that they can be cleaned whilst they are out of rotation, without interrupting the production line. And, as each process of manufacturing is carried out within the container itself, the need to clean individual manufacturing stages is significantly reduced. Investing in a decoupled system, paired with Matcon Cone Valve technology, has the potential to create a dynamic, efficient and fully controlled manufacturing process. This improved functionality will result in increased productivity and profitability, and ensure that you remain at the forefront of your industry.