Food Engineering

Dry Processing Technology: Focus on Powder and Bulk Operations

August 2, 2006
Bulk solids metering equipment saves time and increases efficiencies for nutritional manufacturer.

The Schenck AccuRate SolidsFlow offset feeder saves Bariatrix International 10 minutes (or more) in calibration time. Source: Schenck AccuRate.


Timely nutrition

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we know what to do with it," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher. Ol' Waldo would have to agree that Bariatrix International is making the most of its time thanks to the installation of dry bulk solids metering equipment that enabled the company to make tremendous strides in efficiency.

"We had been using a feeder that took 15 to 20 minutes to calibrate," says Brad Shields, production supervisor at Bariatrix International, Lachine, Canada. "The Schenck AccuRate SolidsFlow offset feeder takes us only 4 to 5 minutes to calibrate. The time saved by this feeder has been integral to the success of our line."

A manufacturer of snack bars and drink, shake and entrée mixes for people on supervised diets, Bariatrix International has seen tremendous growth in its nutritional bar products, which prompted the installation of an additional line at the plant. The company encouraged several firms to propose feeder solutions but selected Schenck AccuRate because it met the 0.5 to 1.5 percent accuracies Bariatrix required for its easily damaged products.

For the Bariatrix application, Schenck AccuRate recommended a 12-in. food grade SolidsFlow offset feeder with a 10-degree angle. The fed material is free flowing and has a low angle of repose, so a 10-degree tray was also required. The feeder further came equipped with a 10-cu.-ft. hopper, a three-point load cell weighing system and a panel-mount NEMA 4 Disocont gravimetric controller.

Bariatrix uses the offset feeder for nutrition bars requiring a topcoat of peanuts or other dry bulk solid material. Operation begins by manually pouring peanuts or other dry bulk solid materials into the hopper, which uses a vibrating feeder with a variable frequency drive controller. It has no moving internal components because the steep hopper walls allow material to slide down into the hopper's large opening thus allowing gravity to draw material in a mass flow feed pattern.

Material is discharged from the feeder into an intermediate mixer, where the dry bulk ingredients are mixed with liquid materials and then spread onto a flat slab of raw ingredients. After the mix is dispersed on the slab, it continues through a set of drums and is later cut into rows, rectangles or other shapes as needed. The nutritional bars are then enrobed or wrapped in chocolate or yogurt. When the bars are cool, they are individually packaged according to customer specifications.

Able to run manually or automatically, the feeder has been a real asset to Bariatrix's production. To date, Bariatrix is pleased with the feeder's performance and plans to use the equipment as its business continues to expand. "We needed a piece of equipment able to feed at the high rate of our line speeds," says Shields. "It could not have been done without the efficiency of the SolidsFlow offset feeder."

For more information:
Kevin Geye; Schenck AccuRate; 800-394-2941; geye@sarinc.com


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