This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Boosting powder throughput

05 November 2017

Stephen Harding explains how powdered food manufacturers can maximise throughput and efficiency. 

Powdered food products have experienced growth in recent years – from protein shake powders through to to products that promise a nutritionally balanced and easily consumable meal. These products are often marketed to consumers as quick nutritional fixes for busy individuals or those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

 A 2016 study of the sports nutrition market, from food analyst, Mintel, found that one-in-ten Brits consumed protein powder — with 24% interested in adding the powder to their regular meals to boost protein intake.
Big brands have jumped on the bandwagon too, launching protein-enriched powder forms of their products, such as Mars’ protein powder versions of Mars, Snickers and Bounty launched earlier in 2017.

This focus on time saving and efficiency, mirrors the general feeling of many powder manufacturers. For process and production engineers in these industries, the main goal is to maximise the flow of product and improve throughput to keep businesses ahead of market demand.

The same challenges
However, the rising popularity of powdered food presents many maintenance engineers in the food sector with the same challenges that have long existed in the pharmaceutical and plastics industry — namely that of screen blinding.

Food powder production plants will include a sieve or screen of some description to ensure that the granules making up powders are of a suitable size. Depending on the specifics of the product being manufactured, these granule sizes will vary from 0.2mm to 4.0mm and this will be reflected in the mesh used to screen these products.

However, powders — particularly food products such as powdered milk — commonly clump together, which leads to blockages in the mesh. While maintenance engineers may not immediately notice if one or two holes are clogged, the problem gets worse as the powder inevitably creates more blockages. This results in a dip in throughput and process efficiency, as well as disruption while engineers remove and clean the mesh.

The answer
However, plant managers and production engineers do not need to rethink their process to address this issue. The answer can be found in ultrasonic screening systems for powders which disrupt the mesh enough to improve flow.

Ultrasonic screening systems use high frequency vibrations that rapidly shake the powder during the screening process, allowing any granule blockages to be eased through the mesh in the screen or sieve. These systems operate at various frequencies. Those provided by Gough Engineering operate at up to 20,000 hertz, and can be retrofitted into existing systems.

The consumer trend for powdered foods is one borne out of convenience and this is a trend that is unlikely to change any time soon. By investing in the right equipment now, food manufacturers will be able to effectively prepare themselves to meet this growing demand. 

Stephen Harding is managing director at Gough Engineering.

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page