The right blend of automation
Depending on the recipe chosen, the spice-blend system delivers the correct proportion of spices via twin-screw, loss-in-weight feeders to the continuous mixer below. Source: Coperion K-Tron.
Saratoga Food Specialties, located in Bolingbrook, IL, has been developing and producing dry seasoning blends for more than 60 years. With a product array of over 500 different blends, a growing customer base and a goal to deliver consistent output, Saratoga realized it needed to automate its dry seasoning blend operation. When a significant client required increased capacity for its seasoning blend, Saratoga turned to the systems design group at Coperion K-Tron for help.
The original method of production for the seasoning blend included labor-intensive batch weighing and the transfer of each ingredient, as well as the addition of fiber to the final blend prior to packaging. All the weighing and transfer of these ingredients was done manually. The operation had limited flexibility in capacity and also required long production times due to the manual stages of the process. In addition, when recipe changes were required for the different blends, the changeover time further extended the production time.
The new system design includes a two-stage blending step with the primary preblend of spices done in a batch blender. This preblend is then conveyed pneumatically via dense-phase vacuum conveying to a Coperion K-Tron pneumatic receiver above a Coperion K-Tron loss-in-weight feeder.
A second processing line, complete with a mechanical conveyor, transfers the fibrous material directly to a second Coperion K-Tron loss-in-weight feeder. Both feeders are controlled through individual Coperion K-Tron control modules (KCMs) with direct links to an overriding HMI—a K-Vision line controller—complete with recipe control.
The control system directs the correct proportion for the chosen recipe of spice blend/fiber to be delivered by the loss-in-weight feeders to the continuous mixer below. The accurate load cells of the Coperion K-Tron feeders ensure the ingredients are supplied without excess or waste.
The added ability to control required set points and ingredient proportions through the Coperion K-Tron controller allows for added versatility and the ability to change recipes quickly and easily. The automated transfer of all the components reduces labor and overall process time, allowing Saratoga to more than triple its capacity in the production line from 2,000 lb./hr. to 6,250 lb./hr.
“The Coperion K-Tron system has improved the overall versatility of the seasoning line and allowed us to meet the growing capacity demands of our important customers,“ says Jim Bejna, director of operations, Saratoga Food Specialties. “In addition, the reliability of the Coperion K-Tron control system provides a validatable method of feedback that the system is making product correctly, in both product quality and required quantities.”
Accurately controlling the seasoning delivery significantly reduces the delivery of excess ingredients, controlling high-value ingredient costs and improving overall product. The added transition from a manual to an automated transfer of product has allowed Saratoga to significantly increase its production capacity. v
For more information:
Sharon Nowak, 856-256-3119, firstname.lastname@example.org