James Walton
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Why using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system can decrease food waste

We are all aware that the current level of food waste cannot be sustained if we have a hope of reducing food poverty across the world. This is not just a Western issue; globally food is lost or wasted at different points in the supply chain. Today’s technologies, such as sterilization, can help reduce this spoilage. However, the strict compliance requirements will ask for continuous improvement of this technology. An analysis from the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations highlights some discrepancies;

• In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities.

• In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays an important role in industrialized countries.

So, where can we make a difference?

Looking at the graph of food losses below, and the statements above, we can see that it is worthwhile to invest in production techniques, potentially to increase the shelf life of packaged food. This would have a positive impact on the waste of food in developed countries.

Food losses

[source: http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/]

One of the ways to improve these figures is to improve the sterilization of the packaging that food is placed in, to reduce spoilage and increase shelf life. This is the point where Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems come in the picture.

Bronkhorst share in extension of the shelf life

Sterilisation of packaging to extend shelf life is not something new, it already has been done for years. I believe the first aseptic filling plant for milk was already presented in 1961. However, it is a technology which has been improved tremendously throughout the years and still is improving. Bronkhorst has an extended range of instruments which can support you in this process. An ingenious development in this area is a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system (also called a CEM), as one compact solution for industrial processes such as sterilization. The compact solutions consist of various type of instruments, such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator.

Using Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems for sterilisation

The challenge given to Bronkhorst via a customer that was using a Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) mix (containing 35% of H2O2 and water) to decontaminate carton and plastic packaging for liquid and cream filling. Using a mix of H2O2 is an excellent way to do this, because it is great at killing bacteria and can be easily evaporated. Bronkhorst is an experienced supplier of this kind of solutions.

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To get the best production with minimal waste you need to:

  1. Dose the correct amount of H2O2 mixture
    • Too much and the final product is spoiled
    • Too little and the residual bacteria is too high
  2. Avoid de-gassing of the H2O2 mix
  3. Have a controlled flow that condenses on the inside of the package
  4. Limit the flow. If it’s too high it will increase drying time at the end of sterilisation

The best result for this application was given by vapour generation combined with a Coriolis mass flow meter. Because H2O2 mixtures are not particularly stable this results in changing physical properties. Adding a Coriolis mass flow meter to the CEM made the measurement of mass flow medium properties independent. Furthermore as the Coriolis instrument is capable of measuring medium density, it can be used to monitor the concentration and thus watch over quality of H2O2.

Using a CEM system has some real advantages:

  • Stable temperature of vapour
  • Stable concentration of condensation because of a controlled dew point of the mixture
  • All of the above is possible because the gas, liquid and mixing temperature are controlled

Benefits as perceived by the customer

  • Stable liquid mass flow, even if physical properties vary
  • Monitoring the concentration and quality of the H2O2
  • Monitoring and traceability of the sterilisation process
  • Mass flow control of liquid
  • Mass flow control of gas
  • Direct control of dew point through control of gas and air mixture
  • Increased use-by-date
  • Longer life of fresh food

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Controlled Evaporation System

Arjan Bikkel
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At Bronkhorst® we’ve experienced an increase in the demand for skids: a customized system that consists of various types of instruments such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator. In this blog post we explain why we think that there is a correlation between an increasing demand for skids and the ability to compete in competitive industries.

Europe’s Solution Factories

We were triggered by a publication in the Havard Business Review by S.E. Chick, A. Huchzermeier, S.Netessine and others which analyzed applications from European manufacturing which deem themselves “excellent” in manufacturing and won Industrial Excellence Awards. It is remarkable that despite the fact that Europe has some of the world’s most stringent regulations regarding the use of labor, facilities, and equipment and relatively high labor cost, the factories that have won an Industial Excellence award have all prospered in highly competitive industries.

The four distinquishing factors as described in the article which made the winning European manufacturers succesfull:

  • They leverage data flows to integrate closely with their supply chain partners.
  • They optimize customer value across the whole chain, not just their part of it.
  • They harness their technical capabilities to offer a high degree of product customization for their customers
  • They cooperate with suppliers to rapidly improve their manufacturing processes.

In short- the winning manufacturing companies work with partners to manufacture solutions for other partners. It is a privilige of Bronkhorst to work closely together with our customers to design smart customized designs which support them with their specific needs. A skid is a customized system based on a standard concept. Customization of standard concept by leveraging the experience and knowhow of our customers and us as low flow experts seems to be an attractive offering for many winning companies in the industry for several reasons. We would like to share with you why we believe customers partner with us to create their own skid.

The four reasons why customized skids are popular

1. Focus on core business Companies are increasingly focusing on their core activities. They expect from a supplier to deliver complete solutions instead of only individual instruments. We engineer the skid together with our customers and deliver a solution in which all relevant instruments and accessoires have been integrated. The ‘solutions approach’ is explained in more detail in this video.

2. Purchase at one supplier On a skid we can integrate flow meters (thermal or coriolis), an evaporator, RH sensors, pressure indicators, pumps, liquid vessels and other third party instrumentation. All internal tubing in the skid will be assembled by Bronkhorst. This way, customers can purchase a complete solution at one supplier instead of individual instrumentation at multiple suppliers. The skid will be pre-tested and ready for use by the customer. Besides, the skid is pressure and leak tested and will be delivered including instruction manual. A bonus is that our skids are based on standard proven platforms which make the time to market meet the expectations of our customers.

3. Customized design Customized products, support and after-sales services support customers to distinguish themselves in a competitive market. All skids are designed customer specific. Even if the customer needs only one skid, we offer a solution. Besides, we offer support and after-sales services that fit with the needs of every individual customer.

4. Compact design The miniaturisation trend is observed in many places. Small components need fewer quantities of raw materials, in production as well as in (chemicals) use. Customers of high-tech machines would like to have their equipment as compact as possible. Machines have to be smaller in size, as floor area is expensive, especially in cleanrooms - the 'natural' habitat of machines that manufacture solar panels and microchips. A skid can be a very compact solution integrating multiple instruments.

Europe’s Solution Factories

Source: Europe’s Solution Factories by S.E.Chick, A.Huchzermeier and S. Netessine, Havard Business Review, April 2014 issue

Rob Giesen
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CO2 reduction is one of the major trends worldwide in the energy market. Nowadays alternative clean energy sources are more and more used to reduce the carbon emissions. One of these alternative energy sources is solar.

The global focus on CO2 reductions matches perfectly within the Bronkhorst principles regarding respect for nature and environment. Therefore contributing to the supply chain of a future energy source, in this case solar, is for Bronkhorst an interesting project.

Solar energy panels Solar panels will convert sunlight into electrical energy and can easily be placed in various locations as a decentral replacement of traditional power plants. A solar panel contains multiple wafers. Manufacturer Tempress Systems is involved in the diffusion doping process of the wafers and apply an anti-reflection coating.

The Tempress equipment contains Bronkhorst technology within the subsystem devolved for the generation of chemical vapour required for the diffusion doping process. Together with Tempress, Bronkhorst designed a custom made solution for this application

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Fit for purpose Due to the intensive collaboration between Tempress’ engineers and Bronkhorst, it was possible to design a ‘fit for purpose’ subsystem that is completely integrated in the Tempress system. The design was extremely compact. Furthermore the fully digital control of the custom made subsystem has been a huge advantage.

The power behind a successful solution One of the reasons for a successful low flow fluidic handling solutions development is the collaboration between Bronkhorst and her customer. The win-win situation is a motivation for both parties. Thinking of a compact ‘plug and play’ custom made solution which offers the logistic advantages of less suppliers, reduction in lead times and less inventory.
The new technologies which are developed on the road will help Bronkhorst to keep up with new possibilities for future projects.

I believe the success factor for the Bronkhorst Solutions team is the close cooperation with the customer working towards a joint objective. It’s like a good marriage; the subsystem does not work without the control system in the main system and the main system needs the intelligence from the subsystem in order to continue the innovative equipment status.

These are some thoughts about how a low flow fluidic handling subsystem can be part of a clean – solar based – energy future. I am proud, that I am a member of the team that realized this solution.

For more information about this solution, please read our application note ‘Boron and phosphor doping for solar panels’.

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James Walton
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This week I felt it would be good to reflect upon some of the blogs that we have put out into the world and share with you some of our most successful work. I cannot define exactly what has made a blog successful but if you have an idea of you would like to see then please let me know.

Below are 5 of our blogs from this year, we look forward to working with you in 2017.

Nils Kupper talks about optimisation of 3D printers

Henk Wassink discusses our work with Machine Builders

Marcel Katerberg on our work to improve Infusion pump calibration techniques

Ric Besseling on the difference between bubbler and Vapour generation systems

Finally, our top 10 tips for installing Mass Flow Meters and Controllers

Happy New Year.

James

James Walton
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Since the day of their introduction Instrumentation devices have always been required to evolve. One of the main reasons for this is to accommodate new, better and more complex communication protocols.

What a lot of people still do, due to ease of use and consistency is specify instruments with analogue or RS-232 serial communication. Analogue communication (4-20mA, 0-5v or 0-10v) and RS-232 which was the original way in which computers communicated was the original, mainly due to cost and available technology.

It is still a very robust and solid way to send and receive information over a small group of instruments however it does have some very practical set-backs. As a point-point communication protocol it requires a port both on the instrument and the controller, this can be very limiting in size affecting both the amount and length of cables needed.

The development of Fieldbus communications meant it became possible to have multiple (100’s) of instruments connected through only one communication port at the controller level. This means that you had a huge reduction in both the number and length of cables needed. This development allowed the complexity to increase and size decrease of instruments containing multiple sensors.

As with VHS and Betamax there will always be competing technologies and ‘bus’ development was no different. Of course everyone hopes for a single unified solution because it makes things simpler, cheaper and more efficient. However the reality is that most ‘buses’ are utilised differently in different industries.

Different industries are described as either; a ‘process fieldbus‘ used in many process automation applications (flow meters, pressure transmitters and other measurement devices) or a ‘device network’ which is a large number of discrete sensors are used, motion, position etc., the best example of this is in automotive manufacturing.

There is an IEC standard that was developed for the European Common Market and interestingly I have learnt that the common goal was not focused on commonality but more the elimination of restraint of trade between nations. This standard is IEC 61158, it is almost 4000 pages long. Issues of commonality are now left to the consortium that supports each of the standard fieldbus types.

What next is always a good question, Ethernet based communication systems are one area that has seen large development over recent years and its definitions are being added into the International standards.

In all of this, what is our involvement in Fieldbus. As you may know, we are mainly involved in Process and control industries. We support almost all of the major bus systems out in the market and also have our own in-house ‘Flow-bus’ system that can be used link multiple instruments together. You run them through a single PC running our Flow-Plot or Flow-View software.

The latest addition to the communication range is the ‘Gateway’ solution. This allows multiple or manifold instruments on a Flow-Bus network to communicate with PROFIBUB or PROFINET DP through a specific fieldbus interface. This can be a very cost effective solution as multiple PROFIBUB or PROFINET DP instrument can become very expensive, very quickly.

Bronkhorst Field-Bus Technology

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James Walton
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Having worked in both the Life Sciences and Analytical industries I am sympathetic to the ever increasing demands for small foot prints and faster instruments. It has been a continuing trend for many years that lab real-estate has become more and more expensive; this led to a drive for footprint reduction of instruments. You had to make sure that size didn’t make you expensive in bench space.

One of the drivers behind this process was the NeSSI system initiative (New Sampling/Sensor Initiative), sponsored by the Centre for Process Analysis and Control. The aim was to reduce the overall costs of engineering, installing and maintaining chemical process analytical systems.

In the NeSSI system, mass flow and pressure meters/controllers needed a standard footprint of 1.5’’.

This footprint is perfect for a large number of applications and end users, even for some of the Life Science OEM companies that have room to spare in their systems. However when you are re-designing your system and you have the chance to incorporate new technology, look at the placement of existing technology and maybe add more it helps if you can reduce the footprint of the components that you use even further.

Reducing the footprint of a known, working technology has challenges of its own. The design and function of which will be driven by the physical characteristics of the measurement principle and therefore the sensor that it uses. To change this you need to look at alternative measurement technologies as a way to achieve the end goal of the industry, same functionality, same signal, smaller package.

Working in conjunction with the TNO, the Netherlands organisation for applied scientific research we designed a new range of mass flow and pressure meters/controllers built around MEMS technology. This allowed us to offer solutions with a footprint of 0.75’’, halving the footprint and offering ultra-compact flow controllers.

This has given our customers:

  • Compact assembly ensuring space efficiency
  • Analog or digital communication
  • Top mount modules, easily accessible
  • Pre-testing ‘’Plug and Play’’ manifold assemblies, reducing customer test requirement

To maintain the usefulness of the new instrument you have to have the same functionality. Along with a sensor on a chip, we need a new, smaller control valve, filter options and a smaller pneumatic shut-off valve. To save even more space and build time, customers requested a down-ported version.

The final addition that makes full use of the space saving created by the addition of new technology was to create a manifold system where a customer can design a number of flow channels into a manifold, all well within the internal space limitations they have for their instrument.

IQ+ Manifold Solution

This is one of the key themes of our blogs and it is referred to time and again. The Solutions based approach, ending up with a bespoke solution not a standard product with compromises. Innovation in technology must be driven by the customer. If you do not think that a standard flow or pressure solution will meet your needs then let us know and challenge our team, we will be your low flow fluid handling specialist.

Check out our smallest mass flow and pressure meter/controller

Check out our Ultra Low Flow Coriolis Instruments