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Delivering clean sugar with Piab’s piFLOW®p vacuum conveyor

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India’s leading manufacturer M. B. Sugar trusts in vacuum conveying technology from Piab to improve product quality and prevent losses.

The raw sugar trend in large international coffee bars like Starbucks and five-star hotel chains continues. M. B. Sugar is delivering the sweetener readily packed in stick packs for immediate use by the consumer to these entities.

In their process, the conveying system is installed on top of a dryer and conveys the sugar from the hopper located at the ground floor in batches to a dryer. The raw sugar arrives in sacks which are emptied into the hopper. Once the sugar is dry it is directly filled into the stick packs or other small paper bags offered hygienically with coffee or tea at coffee shops like Starbucks and five-star hotel restaurants.

With their previous bucket elevator solution M. B. Sugar faced several issues affecting the product quality. Rushabh Lodha, Director of M. B. Sugar explains: “Due to the open nature of the bucket elevator we faced hygienic challenges and contamination with black dust in the final product, which led to high product losses. It also required manual inspection and removal of such black particles, which kept six workers busy for up to three hours for every three tons of sugar moved per hour by the bucket elevator. Another factor for product losses were operator issues. Depending on the operator skills we had large variations in product quality.”

“With the piFLOW®p operating as a closed system it prevents any foreign material to enter the process. Additionally, it is very easy to clean and to maintain. Thanks to the quick-release system with filters and gaskets, the entire conveyor can be disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled for the next production in just a few steps. Hence, the conveyor can be cleaned not only in the shortest possible time, but also thoroughly,” adds Vishal Patil, Senior Area Sales Manager West & North India at Piab.

“With the new system we never had a product contamination again and can charge the dryer in a complete controlled manner thereby optimizing our process efficiency. The workers formerly busy with manual inspection and cleaning of the sugar can now support other areas of production. Additionally, we were able to raise the throughput of sugar conveyed from three to nearly four tons an hour. While the bucket elevator required maintenance every two weeks, the piFLOW®p conveyor from Piab is running since six months maintenance free. This increases the available production time tremendously, thereby helping us to further reduce production cost and to stay competitive. Thanks to the support of the Piab specialists the vacuum conveyor was configured exactly in the way we needed it. With its five years warranty on the pump unit, we also concluded that this technology is thoroughly developed and produced, which further strengthened our decision to change to Piab’s vacuum conveyor solution,” complemented Rushabh Lodha.

Piab's piFLOW®p conveyors for powders and bulk solids are perfectly matched to the high standards of operational safety and hygiene in the food and pharmaceutical industries. They are made of electropolished stainless steel and materials that comply with US FDA and EU 1935/2004 regulations. As a conveying line, a suction hose made of PU is used. An internal steel spiral helps to minimize the electrostatic charge of the product or diverts it to equipotential bonding. The filter in the upper part of the conveyor is cleaned with a filter shock after each conveying cycle. The device control is in a separate control cabinet.

The vacuum is generated by the COAX® technology by the discharge of compressed air from a nozzle system. This allows both a high efficiency of the system and an absolute vacuum level of 250mbar maximum. Blockages in the delivery line are almost impossible. Since no mechanically moving parts are present in the vacuum pump, the system works maintenance-free ensuring maximum machine uptime and saving on managerial time related to maintenance management. The vacuum pump is mounted directly on the conveyor. The collection volume of the conveyor can be adapted to different requirements depending on, for example, the product density.

As independent comparative tests at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Dresden have shown, Piab's COAX® ejectors work twice as fast as other ejectors and deliver three times more flow than conventional ejectors with identical air consumption. This allows the pump unit to perform well even with low or fluctuating supply pressure and is particularly energy efficient.

The piFLOW®p conveyors are ATEX Dust and Gas certified. Typical applications are powder and granules transfer, form-fill-seal machines, big bag loading and unloading, drum/bag filling and emptying, mill/sieve/mixer/blender filling, tablet/fragile products transfer, applications in explosive atmosphere, hygienic applications, or places where space is at a premium due to their compact size.

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