As a busy sports nutrition manufacturer, there’s nothing more frustrating than waiting around. Downtime in your production process wastes minutes and hours that could be used for other things like securing new business or making more product. Instead of feeling frustrated, why not look at alternative manufacturing solutions that deliver more uptime and bigger profits?
Big Industrial Mixers Mean Lengthy Emptying Cycles
Sticky powders are a constant challenge in sports nutrition manufacturing. Once you’ve filled your mixer and achieved a perfectly homogenous blend, you need to empty it as quickly as possible without compromising quality or leaving product behind in the mixer.
Evacuating a large fixed mixer with nooks and crannies that trap product is unlikely to deliver the flawless ingredient mix you’re looking for. And for Sports Nutrition manufacturers, a homogenous blend is critical.
And there’s another downside to fixed mixers: people often increase the size of the mixer in the hope of gaining economy of scale efficiencies and by reducing mixing time by a few minutes. But the bigger your mixer, the longer it takes to empty and the more downtime you build into your entire process.
In-Line Emptying Means End-to-End Downtime
If your fixed mixer is coupled to the packing lines, you can’t start formulating the next batch until the first has been called off. Depending on the size of your mixer and the speed your packing line operates at, this can take hours.
In the same way that your fixed industrial mixer is at a stand still while formulating and filling, so it’s idling as the product is emptied. Whether the mix is powdery or a thick paste, each product empties in its own time with some taking far longer than others.
Let’s assume it takes 50 minutes to empty the mixer. At under an hour, this might not sound like anything to worry about. But this idle time is repeated throughout the year amounting to a significant reduction in productivity.
Just look at this:
50 minutes x 8 batches per shift x 250 days a year = 1,000 hours lost each year in waiting time
That’s a significant amount of time that could be used more effectively. What if you could make more product to sell in that wasted time? How many more sales could you realise? Another £10,000? Another £100,000? According to our ROI calculator, you could earn an additional £3m in sales.
What seems like an insignificant amount of downtime soon adds up. Which makes more efficient blending methods, like Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), well worth considering.
Maximise Productivity With Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs)
Inflexible operating lines are at the heart of production inefficiencies. Introducing IBCs to your workflow allows you to break up in-line manufacturing and introduce flexibility to your processes.
As a first step, you could use IBCs to disconnect packing from blending. This saves time on the emptying downtime by allowing you to empty the mixer’s contents into the IBC quickly. The mixer can then go back into service and be formulated for the next batch. Meanwhile the IBC can be moved off to the packing line where it will feed a regular amount of product to the line. By freeing up equipment in this way, you’ll be making a significant improvement in the flexibility and efficiency of your process.
Another approach is to use IBCs for in-bin blending. This option means you can operate in line with lean principles with one IBC being filled, one being blended, while another feeds to packing. Processing several stages simultaneously is particularly useful for sports nutrition manufacturers; not only does it make it easier to meet customer demand for more bespoke products but you can do it far more efficiently.
A hidden benefit of Matcon’s IBCs is the Cone Valve Technology which releases materials under mass-flow discharge so ingredients empty without desegregating. This means you can improve efficiency while delivering a high-quality product every time.
Choosing the right system for your manufacturing needs is a big decision and one that should be based on research. In case you missed it, our free white paper is available here to help you think through your next equipment purchase and ensure you select the right system for you. Combined with our ROI calculator, you’ll have everything you need to make an informed decision about your next manufacturing equipment investment.