Continuous inline blending systems & in-line dosing systems often come with many questions. Is my blending application suitable for an inline application? How much will it cost? How do I know the consistency of my end-product will come out correctly? Answers to these questions are below, and additional questions can be answered one of our mixing system experts (314)845-0077.
All that is required is that measuring instruments and dosing equipment be properly sized for each individual flow stream in the continuous mixing system.
Immediately after each ingredient addition point a static or high shear mixer is added as required. Agitation can also be provided in the finished product surge tank. Catch samples from the inline mix system can be taken to verify that finished product is indistinguishable from product made in a batch process.
No. Products that require considerable mixing energy or mixing that must occur over an extended time period may not lend themselves to inline blending. For example, flammables or mixtures with a wide range of viscosities are usually not suitable for in-line blending applications. There is not a clean cut way to say for sure whether or not your blending application will work as a continuous in-line blend system, but generally, the more of the following criteria that apply, the more likely it can be an inline blending system:
- You are currently making the product using batch blending
- No reactions are involved in your blending
- There are no known solubility issues with your ingredients
- There are no or very few flammables involved
- Ingredients have a narrow range of viscosities
- Blending step time requirements are small
- None of your ingredients are dry materials
Many successful applications involving inline chemical reactions have been done. It depends on process kinetics, the amount of heat generated as a result an exothermic reaction, and other key factors.
Part of our proprietary technology is how we control mix system startup to ensure that formula percentage is held as the inline blending system comes up to full rate. Also, the finished product surge tank size is chosen to avoid blending system shutdown during brief filler stoppages. In addition, this tank provides an averaging effect for any slight perturbations that occur.
An alarm will sound well in advance of running out of any raw material, allowing the operator to replenish the raw material while running the process. Also, the mass flow of each ingredient is monitored continuously and any deviation from the set point will cause the continuous mixing system to automatically shutdown. Lastly, online instrumentation (density meter, refractometer, online analyzer, etc.) may be installed for continuous monitoring of process parameters in critical applications.
Absolutely not. Operation is intuitive, by design. Very little operator attention is required. Normally, operators are performing other tasks (replenishing raw materials, keeping the packing line running, etc.) unless an alarm occurs that warrants their attention.
Yes. Our engineers are well versed in the design, fabrication and assembly of in-line blending systems. Our on-site fabrication facility means the same engineers that design the system oversee its high quality construction in our controlled, production-style environment.
This is a loaded question, which is difficult to answer without a significant engineering effort. Some consider in-line blending to be a “cheap alternative” to batching systems, but these systems still require a fair share of engineering and design and are much more than just some pipes flowing together.
There are a lot of factors that go into the cost associated with a chemical blending skid such as; number of ingredients, number of recipes, accuracy and performance standards, degree of automation, and required integration with existing equipment. In general, inline blending systems are still less expensive than batching systems.
Most chemical blending systems can achieve accuracy within 1% deviation of the prescribed formulation. This can vary, and often depends on how a system is run. Continuous inline blending systems that are constantly running and producing the same product often achieve deviation rates that are less than a 1% average. Batch inline mixing system that are regularly shut off and have many recipes changes tend to be less accurate.
Along with being a designer and manufacturer, we are also a systems integrator. Seamlessly integrating a new system into a preexisting manufacturing system is a regular task for us. We can either try to match the existing plant controls or upgrade older systems to work with the new system.
We provide plant controls upgrades where required. If the choice is made to use an updated control system with the new inline blend module, we will unify the new system with older control systems. This allows proper communication and ensures blending accuracy.
There are three important factors to evaluate when deciding to choose an inline blending. Does my process need to be flexible? Am I trying to reduce the amount of waste material? Do I have enough floor space for the large tanks associated with batch mixing systems? If you need to be able to quickly and easily change your recipe, want to reduce the amount of materials you waste, and do not have the floor space available, then inline blending may be your perfect solution.
Below are some related links where you can see pictures of inline blending systems by EPIC and additional information about continuous blending systems: