Mission: Knowledge Transfer
The Experts' Forum is an integral part of POWTECH in Nuremberg. Here international experts and users share best practices with their audiences. It was in this setting that Bernhard Hüppmeier, Head of Sales for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at Brabender Technologie, presented in fall 2017 information about the extensive topic of feeding technology.
"Feeding technology for high-precision, formula-driven processes" was the title of his presentation that attracted a large audience. By way of introduction Bernhard Hüppmeier highlights the wide range of feeders available: screw feeders, vibrating trays, belt feeders, agitators, screw feeders with agitators, paddle activation and plenty of other options - it requires an expert to find the right solution for each bulk material. He also factors in the customer's requirements in relation to product handling, flexibility, feed range, accuracy, device handling and space requirements. "We have to take account of a wide range of issues to ensure the feeders we recommend match products and processes", Bernhard Hüppmeier emphasizes.
Furthermore feeders also have to adapt to different ambient and plant conditions. Control and operating units also play as key a role as processors of data via interfaces - to say nothing of service.
Batch vs. continuous
Basically there is a distinction between volumetric and gravimetric feeding. Volumetric systems dispense a volume of bulk material as a function of time while gravimetric ones also measure its mass or weight as a function of time. The objective is to achieve a constant mass flow. The mass is critical to formula consistency, which is why volumetric systems have to be calibrated to their feed materials. The right choice of actuators and product activation is very important in these systems.
The structure of a weighing system allows measurement and control by comparing a fixed set point to the actual value loss of weight. These forms of metering are used for continuous and batch processes. Bernhard Hüppmeier believes continuous production, which is already an established practice in the chemical and plastics industries, is gaining ground in the food and pharmaceutical industries as well. Significant benefits in terms of process reliability, product quality and cost efficiency favour continuous production.
The issue of cost efficiency is also a key aspect of the day-to-day handling of devices. Quick cleaning and maintenance procedures save time and money. "Easy-change methods are extremely important for our devices like the Flexwall®", the expert explains. Rapid trough replacement, for example, enables cleaning to be performed outside of production facilities. "This increases production time".
Collaboration for product safety
Where sensitive pharmaceutical or food applications are involved, a specialist like Brabender Technologie is also opting to go down the collaboration route. The company has been a member of the EHEDG, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group, since 2009. It is an association of equipment suppliers to food manufacturing and food processing businesses, to research institutes and public health bodies, whose mission is to promote hygiene during the production and packaging of food.
FiberXpert makes people sit up and take notice
To finish off his presentation Bernhard Hüppmeier introduced the FiberXpert fiber-specialized feeder, which has mainly recycling and plastics industry applications. It can also feed very heterogeneous fibers made of carbon, wood shavings, PET flakes or similar materials, which cause product bridges on other feeders. This special feeder produced serious interest among the audience.
Questions from the floor were mainly related to issues of control and interfaces - in an age of increasing process digitalization these are common questions of many trade fair visitors. Brabender Technologie offers control systems that feature Ethernet, Profinet and Profibus interfaces as standard enabling data to be read and processed directly.