In our daily life we use plastics or polymers in many different forms whether as a disposable product such as packaging film or as a long-lasting component in the automotive industry, in construction or in sports equipment and toys.
Nowadays, plastics are tailor-made for the respective application, depending on the properties desired. In this way, properties such as hardness, mold ability (or formability), elasticity, tensile strength, temperature, radiation and heat resistance can be adjusted as well as the chemical and physical resistance can be adapted to the desired function.
This large variety can be modified within wide limits by the choice of the basic building blocks (macromolecules), the production process and additives. The respective macromolecules are polymers of regularly repeating molecular units. The type of crosslinking and the used additives determine the final properties of the material. In 2016, the world-wide production of plastics for bulk materials and films was over 300 million tons (source: BMBF) of which almost one third was produced in China. Europe and North America follow with slightly less than 20 percent each.
Precise dosing for operational efficiency and minimization of unnecessary waste
Typical additives in the plastics industry are antistatic agents, dyes, flame retardants, fillers, lubricants, colorants, stabilizers and plasticizers. Many of these additives are liquid.
Precise dosing of the additives leads to operational efficiency and the minimization of unnecessary waste.
Additives are frequently added by use of needle valves, which is inexpensive, but always has a risk on malfunction because of fluctuation within the process (e.g., pressure and temperature). In particular the use of plasticizers is increasingly critical since some of these substances are directly absorbed by human beings or accumulate in the food chain.
With the proven CORI-FILL dosing technology, Bronkhorst offers an easy-to-use setup to ensure the required accuracy and reproducibility. By combining a mini CORI -FLOW with a pump or a suitable valve, fluids can be dosed continuously or as a batch into the reactor with high reproducibility. These systems can be integrated or used as an add-on in already existing processes and production lines.
mini CORI-FLOW flow meter combined with a Tuthill pump
5 Reasons why additive dosing with a Coriolis instrument supports process efficiency for plastic manufacturers
No need for (re)calibration in the field – fluid independent flow measurement and control
Gas and liquid can be measured with the same sensor
Ability to measure undefined or variable mixture
The CORI-FILL™ technology features an integrated batch counter function and enables direct control shut-off valves or pumps
Traditionally, and in most cases we see, dosing- or metering pumps are believed to be accurate because the theory is that a known pump head displacement will move a known volume over a known time giving a known delivered volume. In practice however it will never achieve a high level of accuracy with deviations of 10-15% being normal. Inaccuracies like this are caused by many changing process conditions, such as:
Wear of components
These factors can each be the cause of an inaccuracy in the expected volume of displacement from a pump head movement. If you then multiple each of those factors you can realise quite large measuring errors that create both inaccuracy and inconsistency.
Please refer to our earlier blog about ‘High Accuracy’.
What can be done to improve the accuracy?
Option 1) Add a flow meter between the pump and the process
By adding a flow meter between the pump and the process, you can take information from the flow meter to adjust the speed of the pump. Traditionally, this would be managed with an analogue output signal, 4….20 mA or similar, from the flow meter into a separate PID controller that compares the real flow signal to the desired flow. Subsequently, the electronic controller can then adjust the speed of the pump to achieve the desired dose or flow.
Using this solution will mitigate the issues in the original solution, however it introduces more:
Slow flow signal due to signal filtering in the PID controller
Slow pump response due to extra control relay
Increased complexity with extra components
Time to achieve stable flow can be long
Additional price of meter and PID controller
Option 2) Direct mass flow measurement with a flow meter with built in PID control
Now we need to discuss the next possible solution, using a direct Mass Flow measurement device with built in PID control
that can drive a pump to achieve the desired dose or flow.
With this solution you do not need to include the pump in the control system, just give a set point demand to the mass flow meter and it will drive the pump to achieve the desired dose or flow. This solution will give you several advantages, such as:
Direct mass flow control of the flow
Mass flow dosing is independent of temperature and pressure, in contrast to the volumetric dosing when only a pump is used;
Accurate delivery mitigating normal pump issues
Alarm functionality of low flow
Preventative maintenance based on pump performance over time
Consistent flow measurement based on actual not assumed numbers
Coriolis mass flow meter in modular dosing system
These advantages can be utilised in many different industries:
Anywhere that liquid is dispensed into a container that will require quality assurance, and commonly the quality control test is carried out on a small percentage of the vials to ensure general compliance. If you use a mass flow meter to control the dose you can achieve 100% QC checking of your product with reduced human input.
If you need to dose additives, performance chemicals or mix liquids then the ability to control the flow of the additive and know what that flow is can be a huge advantage to the outcome of the application.
Pump control can offer accurate dosing solutions for house hold chemicals like detergents and cleaning products.
Learn about our experience using a Coriolis mass flow controller as a solution in a continuous reactor used to produce pharmaceuticals.
My interest in the adoption of continuous manufacturing at pharmaceutical manufacturers was sparked by a customer who contacted us to support them with the exact dosing of pharmaceutical excipients. This customer was planning a continuous pharmaceutical manufacturing facility.
Batch process manufacturing
Traditionally, most human pharmaceuticals are manufactured in a step by step batch process with extensive tests between steps to insure consistent quality and efficacy of the finished medicine.
The manufacture of pharmaceuticals is a highly-regulated process with government agencies inspecting and approving both the process and the facilities where medicines are manufactured.
In 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed for the first time in its history a manufacturer to switch from the traditional batch manufacturing process to a continuous manufacturing process
Continuous process manufacturing
Continuous manufacturing is a pioneering technology that has the potential to transform how medicines are made in the future. Improvements in Process Analytical Technology (PAT) has allowed the automation and streamlining of what were previous laborious step by step manufacturing processes.
It is now possible to accurately mix ingredients in a continuous reactor, carefully monitor and control the reaction rate and achieve higher yields than what was feasible just 10 years ago.
The liquid flow rates in these new continuous process systems are much smaller than what was traditionally encountered in the older batch processes. Instead of tonnes per hour, typical plants operate at flows of kilogram per hour (kg/hr) and in some areas even grams per hour (g/hr) or volume flow ml/h.
When using Continuous Manufacturing?
New medicines tend to be targeted at niche illnesses and don’t require the large quantities of active pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured in the past. Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing is an ideal solution to manufacture these new drugs.
Since Bronkhorst offer the most extensive product range of low flow mass- and volume flow meters and controllers on the market, we were selected by the customer and charged with finding the optimum flow monitoring and control solution for the new process.
Coriolis mass flow controllers bring the solution
The customer required a process that was flexible, capable of monitoring and controlling the flow of different fluids with an inbuilt ability to automatically adjust itself for any pressure variations or disruptions. Additionally the customer required extensive logging of real time flow data and control via their DCS control system.
After careful consideration of the process requirements, we recommended our mini CORI-FLOW mass flow controller combined with a gear pump as the ideal solution to the demanding flow control requirements of the Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing process.
The decisive factor to use the mini CORI-FLOW mass flow controller here were its characteristic features:
Direct mass flow measurement, independent of fluid properties
Capability to measure density and temperature
The ability to switch to volume flow
High accuracy, excellent repeatability
Compact design, with stand-alone integrated PID controller for fast and stable control
Suitable for a wide flow range
Digital technology allowing interface with DCS systems using Profibus
Chemically resistant stainless steel and hastelloy wetted parts
A closed control loop that allows a rapid response by controlling the pump directly to change process conditions
When coupled with our IN-PRESS pressure controller the system offers the flexibility of flow and pressure control for some critical parts of the process.
All parameters can be logged, therefore this technology offered excellent traceability of the process
In this week’s blog we will have a look at the growing Chocolate Confectionery industry and the trends in using flavors. Who else can do this better than a woman you should think… as 75% of the women against 68% of the men report that they indulge in chocolate.
Chocolate…a growing worldwide market of $100 billion once started with a simple choice between Milk, Dark or White chocolate. Nowadays the choice in variations is tremendous due to flavorings.
Chocolate as a seasonal gift is very popular. Around the holidays we tend to buy more chocolate. The top selling season for chocolate is not Valentine’s Day, as you might think, but Easter.
In addition to treating oneself, mood enhancement is also a popular reason for the rising sales, especially for young adults. The majority of the chocolate buyers (particularly in the US) are looking for options with mix-ins as opposed to the plain/unflavored varieties.
The global chocolate market has seen considerable innovation in flavor and texture. New product development continues to be imaginative, with more exploration of flavors and textures in addition to the traditional sweetness. However the consumer base tends to be rather conservative as the most popular flavors currently are Hazelnut, Caramel, Almond, and Orange.
Older consumers tend to have a lower engagement with chocolate. The lack of interest reflects their desire to eat healthy. To regain this group of adult customers, companies have turned to tactics such as using alcohol flavors, organic ingredients, and premium positioning such as dark chocolate with Limoncello or chocolates filled with sweet liqueur.
It may come as a surprise, but a healthy lifestyle, which is one of the major trends worldwide, is also responsible for a substantial growth of the chocolate market and that’s not without reason. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate with more than 85% cocoa, offers beneficial health benefits, like:
‘Rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and other minerals’
‘Powerful source of Antioxidants’
‘Protective against cardiovascular disease’
The growing awareness of the health benefits of pure and dark chocolate is why consumption of chocolate is increasing. With the rising popularity of dark chocolate, the sales for other variations are also going up. People are seeking other ‘healthy’ variations, such as sugar-free, Gluten-Free, Kosher, or Fair Trade chocolate. Due to these ethical claims, the industry has seen a tremendous growth in variations. In order to enhance a healthy image for chocolate, functional ingredients such as fibers, protein, micronutrients, quick energy (guarana extracts), green tea extract, or chia seeds are more and more often being added to the chocolate.
The increasing demand for chocolate also has its downside. About 3 million tons of cocoa beans are consumed annually of which more than 70% is produced by four West African countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
Cocoa is a delicate crop and trees planted a quarter century ago have hit their production peak and the land they grown on are not as fertile as it once was. A large rehabilitation of land and trees is necessary to prevent the loss of crop production. Also climate changes are taking their toll.
This results in high costs for raw materials and unstable economic conditions in cocoa-producing nations. To prevent a supply shortage, a number of well-known chocolate producing companies have decided to invest in rehabilitation of the land and trees to make sure that cocoa will be available in the future.
This in a time that developing countries such as China, India, and Russia expect to grow their chocolate sales volume by 30%.
MASS FLOW METERS AND CHOCOLATE
Due to the tremendous growth of chocolate variations, using flavors and functional ingredients, mass flow meters and controllers find their way into the confectionery industry.
Due to their accurate and stable features, especially when they are used in combination with a pump, low flow mass flow meters and controllers using the Coriolis principle are ideal for dosing flavors and functional ingredients.
The Bronkhorst Coriolis instruments will measure direct mass flow and are independent of fluid properties which means a set point change is possible within seconds and there is no need to disassemble the pump and recalibrate the installation. This is a huge advantage which saves a lot of time, and makes the process much more flexible.
Using the Coriolis instruments for additive dosing means less downtime between batches, traceability of ingredients, and higher product consistency and quality.
During my 4 years as Coriolis Product Manager at Bronkhorst UK I have spent a lot of time talking to industry across the many sectors. I wanted to share some of my experience over this time with you in this week’s blog.
In 2013, at the start of my career, we launched the M15, this was and still is the largest Coriolis flow meter (flow range up to 300 kg/h) that we have manufactured with its own tube design. I always have had an affinity to this instrument because we arrived on the Coriolis scene at the same time. Technical specification can be found in the brochure.
With the Bronkhorst mini CORI-FLOW series instruments delivering value it was becoming well known, however the flows required were getting higher than we currently had, and so the M15 was born.
Successes have come in many applications; additive and preservative dosing, oil application on various products and flavours and colour dosing. Following these successes some of our customers started to request us to support them with specific industry related requirements, e.g. customers in the Food & Beverage industry partnered with us to realize their norms.
The M15 tube design is unique and doesn’t have any chambers or dead zones that can capture material and potentially lead to bacterial growth. The fittings are laser welded on.
Further tests performed proved that for cleaning the M15 instrument can withstand steam temperatures up to 135°C for long periods of time with the instrument powered down. This enables the instrument to be used where Steam in Place is applied as a cleaning technique. The instruments internal tube surface has been analysed and is less than 0.8um Ra meeting the ISO997 standard. This measurement means that the M15 is suitable as it minimises the potential for bacteria growth in the process line.
The M15 for me is the jewel in the crown of the Bronkhorst Coriolis range as it continuously out performs its competition and specification is unique and performs above expectations of many of my customers.
At this time of year it is good to reflect on what has happened, what you have achieved and what you have enjoyed. This year I have very much enjoyed writing about our experience in Industry delivering Mass Flow Control and Metering Solutions. This week I look back at one of my first blogs, the potential possibility of switching from batch to continuous process production.
I hope you enjoy reading a second time as I enjoyed writing it.
One of the most common topics of conversation over the last few years in the chemical industry has been about the change from continuous to batch process production.
In the beginning of my involvement with the Chemical Industry I was an early advocate for switching to the batch process method. With the benefit of hindsight this was based on my perspective of the application at that time. Having worked in Operations I was heavily into data and numbers (letting the data speak), I believed they would tell you everything and provide the perfect foundation to make a decision. Develop what you have, invest in new kit or re-design an entire process.
So, the next step was to find the top 5 points that would encourage someone to discuss the change from batch to continuous production.
Quality: With greater control and automation in the production process it becomes easier to remove inconsistency in final product quality.
Waste: The better the quality and the higher the frequency of achieving that quality the less the product waste and re-work required. This has huge returns on baseline production cost.
Safety: Increasingly an important consideration in the modern workplace, reduction in contact with chemicals through increased automation and the inclusion of built in alarms can add significant safety advantages.
Space: In bulk manufacturing you have to store bulk products, both pre and post production, by moving to a lower volume continuous production method you can have smaller more frequent deliveries enabling you re-use the old storage facility for extra production lines.
Cost: In each of these improvements brings a cost incentive to the business, with extra production space, reduced waste or improved quality cost efficiency can be realised in multiple areas.
With advances made in metering and control instrumentation it would be remiss to not investigate the potential benefit an investment in continuous production could bring. The potential is there to achieve more predictable final product quality resulting in less re-works and waste product. A reduction in production space would be required; safer work environment, greater control and flexibility on supply chain operations. The ability to deliver smaller volumes to order increasing your potential customer base and reducing supply chain costs.
This has been a great topic to discuss and learn about, I would be more than happy to talk with more professionals in the field of Chemical production and expand my understanding further.