A continuous process system is designed, automated, fabricated and installed to chemically treat seed. This automated the process of product unloading, seed treatment, and bulk seed re-bagging.
KEY ENGINEERING FEATURES:
- Modular designed/built stainless steel continuous process system
- Pre-fit client specifications for plant layout and space limitations
- Completed system in 3 weeks
- The continuous process skid handles seven different chemicals in powder and liquid forms and allows for easy transition between two separate chemical mixing processes and actual seed treatment.
- Custom-designed, stainless steel recipe tank used to mix chemicals
- Custom hydraulic lift and internal automation system to raise heavy bags of seed to platform
- All pinch points eliminated and the strictest physical safety and structural measures included
- Piping system to eliminate waste and auto-deposit waste into a ground-level storage tank
- Complete control system integration including the instrumentation, electrical design, HMI configuration and plc programming
of the controls
- On-board, PLC/HMI control system with a complete control power panel that requires only a single point power source
THE CLIENT: TOP AGRICULTURAL COMPANY
Because we respectfully hold our clients’ desired confidentiality to the highest regard, the company involved with EPIC Systems on this modular process skid project will remain anonymous in this case study. The client is an agricultural chemical company who uses modern biology to help farmers around the world grow products using more sustainable methods. The client’s seed treatment innovations allow farmers to produce more and conserve more.
THE OPPORTUNITY: STREAMLINE THE CONTINUOUS PROCESS OF CHEMICALLY TREATING SEED
In order to reduce labor costs and improve efficiency, the agricultural company approached EPIC to custom design a modular process system that could streamline and automate the process of chemically treating one of the company’s seed categories. The client requested that the process system be ergonomically designed to fit into existing manufacturing plant space.
The system required strict safety specifications that exceeded most set in place by federal regulations. The system would need to combine chemical continuous processes to mix ingredients as well as batch processes to actually treat the seed. This particular modular process system needed to have a high level of custom design to make way for all unit operations and chemical reactions that were to take place on the system. Because the system’s final geographical destination experiences unpredictable seismic and other natural events, additional structural safety was a must-have.
THE CUSTOM SOLUTION: CONTINUOUS PROCESS SEED TREATMENT SYSTEM THAT COMBINES SAFETY AND SUSTAINABILITY
EPIC’s project team designed and built the modular process system to pre-fit client specifications for plant layout and space limitations. The system itself was built in less than three weeks and was able to increase operating throughput substantially. Built using stainless steel, the system is more robust than a commercialized competitor offering and includes several advanced safety features.
The system handles seven different chemicals in powder and liquid forms and allows for easy transition between two separate chemical mixing processes. The centerpiece of the process skid is a stainless steel recipe tank that uses an agitator to mix raw materials which are delivered from strategically placed storage tanks. An automated dosing system delivers the chemicals and when to be combined for the seed treatment. Mounted on a precision scale, the chemical continuous processes are synced with a computer to verify that each batch blends correctly. Because the chemicals that are used to treat seed are very expensive and must be exact, the system secures the highest possible levels of accuracy.
Human labor remains necessary for the loading and unloading of seed, but through the use of a custom hydraulic lift and internal process automation system, heavy bags of seed are raised up to the platform level making the transfer from straddle stacker to mixing hopper easier. A single operator can control and alternate the processes as well as reload seed without strain or safety hazard. Platform heights and hand railings on the skid were designed to make sure workers have access to machines, eliminating pinch points.
All waste from the process skid is disposed of through a piping system that delivers material to a ground-level storage tank. The system’s structure is able to withstand unforeseen seismic events, off-loadings, assembly erections, and varying production demands. Detachable legs make the system easily portable and optimally sized for seamless integration in plants all around the world. Handling the process instrumentation, electrical design, and programming of the controls, EPIC’s engineers outfit the new system with a fully functional, onboard PLC/HMI control system. Using a complete control power panel, a single-point power source is all that is required.
A successful FAT of the continuous process system was performed inside EPIC’s state-of-the-art fabrication shop before shipment to the plant. The client has been pleased with the system’s performance and believes it will set a new precedence for chemical seed treatment.