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Getting the perfect blend for every batch

16 May 2016

For anyone looking to offer a greater variety of product options the use of metering and dosing pumps could offer a cost-effective solution. Food Processing reports. 

Within the food and beverage industries, changing formulations on a frequent basis to meet marketing requirements can be extremely costly and time consuming – both in terms of material use and production down-time. Where products have essentially the same basic ingredients the most cost efficient approach to production is to manufacture a base material and then add the various ingredients that differentiate and customise the finished products as required. By adopting this approach to production, raw materials are optimised and the potential for waste is minimised as there is no need to dispose of any remaining base material before switching recipes.

Metering and dosing pumps offer a good way to achieve this. They are utilised in a wide range of applications for single point or multi-ingredient dosing in many areas of industry. Single point dosing typically involves the accurate addition of a specific medium and in proportion on a continuous basis. Multiple liquid applications can be handled on a single multi-head pump unit with the individual liquid ingredients metered independently to predetermined points in the process or brought together to create a blend. This can involve any range of liquids in any range of flows and in any proportion. Each of the ingredients is blended in their correct proportions in the correct order and place to obtain the desired mix.

Designed for easy installation immediately ahead of filling lines, metering or dosing skids containing pumps of various types and sizes can be used to introduce specific quantities of ingredients into the batch-produced base at the last minute. In this way there is no requirement for intermediate storage tanks and quality checks – such as data logging of QA parameters, flow monitoring and online analysis (pH, viscosity, concentration) – can be performed inline. It also offers a simple solution as the pump simply needs to be attached to the feed line from the specific ingredient holding tank and the main flow line, which may incorporate a static in-line mixer should this be required by the application.

Historically, the reciprocating positive displacement process pump has dominated the market in applications with a requirement for in-line proportioning and dosing of liquids, and this is still the case today.

The issues affecting the choice of a metering or dosing pump, as opposed to other types of pump, normally relate to precision over a range of flows and the fact that the capacity is not influenced by pressure fluctuations within the process, which is the case with rotary pumps. Also, it can handle a wide range of fluid types at varying temperatures, can operate at high pressures in excess of 1000 bar if required and provides high levels of accuracy and repeatability.

The metering pump can be a highly versatile tool for food and beverage producers and due to its design is ideal for the continuous, in-phase metering of single or multiple liquid systems at varying rates. Significantly, it is also the only pump with two flow adjustment methods – speed and stroke length – that can be used independently or simultaneously to provide optimum performance.

In a process where an ingredient has to be added accurately to a varying main flow, for example, the proportion can be maintained by speed adjustment, while any corrections necessary to maintain product quality can be made by adjustment of stroke length. This means that the metering pump can be finely tuned to the requirements of the process system.

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