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Food Processors: Considering Asking Mixers for Help

June 6, 2011
Mixers and blenders can help with shorter product development cycles, economy, safety.
Silverson Machines just released the Verso line of mixers this month. While meant for the lab, they incorporate features of production-floor inline mixers.

Product development cycles are shortening. Manufacturing costs are being squeezed. Of all the places you've turned to for assistance, have you asked your mixers for help?

One way to get a formula from the bench to the pilot plant to the plant floor faster is with faster scale-up from mixing and blending equipment. "You have to make accurate predictions very quickly about processing conditions going from the lab to the production floor," says David Rothman, director for Silverson Machines (www.silverson.com), with U.S. headquarters in East Longmeadow, Mass. "There are very different processing conditions from lab to plant floor, and it's difficult to achieve similar results as you scale up."

But the new Verso line of mixers, while meant for the lab, incorporates features of production-floor inline mixers. This bench-top in-line mixer is controlled from a digital operating touch pad. The included tachometer, ammeter and programmable timer enable it to provide accurate and easy forecasts of the performance of larger in-line mixers under full-scale conditions.

The line was developed with help from a large multinational food company. While the first generation was meant only for that customer, stock models are available as of this month.

"Our experience is showing that customers are looking for faster, better, cheaper, safer options for their mixing and blending," says Sue Foskitt, marketing manager for Admix Inc. (www.admix.com), Manchester, N.H.

Admix is addressing those demands thus:

  • Faster: Reduce batch mix times by 80 percent; increase powder feed rates up to 400 lbs. per minute; feed and disperse in a single pass.
  • Better: Reclaim out-of-spec product and reintroduce it downstream; increase ingredient functionality; eliminate fish-eyes, lumps & agglomerates.
  • Cheaper: Lower energy costs by lowering horsepower consumption and eliminating wasted ingredients.
  • Safer: Consider the ergonomics; dump powders from floor level without climbing stairs with heavy ingredient bags; design products to meet or exceed toughest sanitary standards.

Admix also offers free in-plant mixing and blending audits and other solutions to improve processing methods.

"Users switching from a traditional high-shear mixer to the PreMax can expect a very significant impact on production time," says a spokesperson for Charles Ross & Son Co. (www.mixers.com), Hauppauge, N.Y.

In this ultra-high-shear mixer, product is drawn from both the top and bottom of the mix chamber, producing rapid turnover rates. As a result, solids are quickly dispersed and prevented from floating on the liquid surface. Finer droplet sizes are also achieved.

Economy and safety also are on the minds at Breddo Likwifier. "We're selling more and more equipment with considerations for the health and safety of the operator," says Bill Wade, equipment manager for the Breddo Likwifier division (www.breddo.com) of Caravan Ingredients, Kansas City, Mo.

"There are magnetic sensors and motion sensors, which will shut the machine down if the lid is moved or not properly in place. Other sensors detect sudden surges of electricity. We also are often asked to move the controls further away from the mixer, so the operator cannot be too close."

Attention also is being paid to ergonomics, he said, so operators are not injured when filling or otherwise operating a machine.

As for economy, "We make larger blenders that help people make larger batches, so there are fewer batches and less labor," Wade says. "And the machines no longer just perform blending; we're often cooking and cooling in the same vessel, further saving time and, in the end, money."

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