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With more stringent regulations, rising labour costs and competition globally, there has never been a greater emphasis on production efficiency. Whoever can produce faster and cheaper without compromising quality will be the companies that thrive. More and more demand is being placed on manufacturers to produce small volumes of more diversified products. Companies cannot simply afford to over-produce product and hold excess inventory to meet this demand. A more flexible approach that is efficient and lean is required.
Mixing is a critical aspect of a powder process, it’s the step where the manufacturer is adding the most value. With so many different mixing technologies and methodologies available it can be hard to see the right way forward. Conventional wisdom might suggest selecting a mixing system that is fast, but that may not fully address the need for flexibility. We have compiled a whitepaper looking into this topic and discuss what to consider when choosing your industrial mixer.
To illustrate what choices are on offer here is an example of how an international food ingredient specialist has transformed their business. They partner many global food producers, producing 1,000s of different flavouring mixes each year, using over 500 different ingredients, many of which are allergens. Make-to-order is a key business objective so they searched for a system that would give them the flexibility and agility they need to allow them to do this without creating vast quantities of inventory.
Originally the company was utilizing 7 Nauta mixers coupled directly to Auger Fillers. This was a very cumbersome system and time consuming to switch between recipes, with cleaning taking in excess of 4 hours. Consequently, they ran ‘campaign’ production and used a ‘white-to-black’ philosophy, with large amounts of inventory produced as an outcome. This not only ties up cash but can be at risk if the product is spoiled or goes out of fashion.
Matcon was commissioned to provide a more Lean efficient solution and look at supplying a more flexible industrial mixer system.
- Mix the old the with the new
Three of the Nauta industrial mixers were retained to produce the high demand, high running recipes as such large volumes of product were involved with little changes to the recipe.
For the low volume, high variety orders which often demand a fast turnaround, they chose IBC Blending. Hold-ups for cleaning are significantly reduced as the IBC Blender does not need cleaning between batches as there are no product contact parts because the IBC itself becomes the blending vessel. The dirty IBCs are taken off-line to be cleaned, so the blender can be in action at all times. To make recipe changeovers smoother at packing and sack tipping the equipment is designed for quick and easy cleaning, with some rapid change-out parts.
In addition, the Matcon system design enables full traceability and batch integrity throughout the process. The enclosed design of the system enables safe handling of all varieties of recipes and ingredients and has allowed the company to maintain their strict hygiene standards, even where allergens are involved.
- Shorter Lead Times
As all of the manufacturing steps take place independently, the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) of each process stage can be optimized. As a result, cleaning of the decoupled packing line now takes only 1 hour, so numerous recipe changes per day can be accommodated. This also allows for rapid turnaround on orders, which now take days to deliver instead of weeks.
As throughput is maximized with the minimum amount of equipment investment needed, and with a reduced amount of waste product lost in cleaning, the cost per kg of manufactured product is significantly reduced, improving the business profitability.
- No need to stock up
Lean product system flow is accomplished, without hold ups or interference between stages. This has meant that W-I-P is no longer necessary to keep the system moving. Inventory too is vastly reduced as make-to-order is now possible.
- The ability to handle anything
A complementary high shear blender accessory enables the more challenging recipes to be homogenously mixed and any lumps that appear are easily dealt with. This extends the range of the industrial mixer taking it from gentle handling with
tumble-blending through to high shear more vigorous mixing.
An added capability of the Matcon system is delivered by the unique Cone Valve technology within each IBC which is able to control the flow of a vast array of powders in the company’s portfolio, even those more cohesive materials and those containing a liquid addition. This helps to reduce waste and operator time that was previously spent in managing those more difficult powders.
If like this international food ingredient specialist, you'd like to transform your business. Whether you produce 1,000s of different flavouring mixes, use many different ingredients (some of which could be allergens) or/and produce make-to-order products, a system that gives you the flexibility and agility you need to allow you to do this, without creating vast quantities of inventory is key. To help you discover what savings and efficiencies you can make at each stage of the mixing process, we’ve created this handy calculator...