While micro-additives are an important part in today’s pet and farm animal food, their strongly varying amount per recipe poses a challenge in automating the transfer from dosage stations to the mixer. System integrator Conberg in Poland developed a suitable solution based on Piab’s piFLOW®f vacuum conveyor.
Micro-additives such as for example enzymes, vitamins or minerals play in increasing role in animal nutrition. Depending on the substance and food recipes they are added in amounts varying between below hundred grams to ten kilograms. This huge difference in addition to a tolerance level of half a percentage of loss during transfer makes process automation extremely difficult.
Trusting in Piab’s expertise, system integrator Conberg from Nowy Sącz in Poland successfully installed a vacuum conveying system based on the piFLOW®f at an animal food producer. Apart from the objective of accelerating and streamline this application process ergonomics played an important part. Previously, the mixer had to be manually charged requiring bags of ingredients to be carried to the level of the mixer eight meters above the ground floor and emptied into it. Accordingly, also the automation project required overcoming these eight meters in height from the feed station to the mixer.
Adrian Rolka, Construction Manager at Conberg, explains the system set up: ”On the ground floor we installed a feed station consisting of 10 containers. The containers are manually filled with the respective dosage of each micro-additive required for the animal food recipe to be produced. Each micro-additive is conveyed one-by-one from the feed station to the mixer. To meet the strict tolerance level, the conveying process starts with the lowest dosage often weighing below 100 grams. It than continues in ascending sequence until the largest batch of up to 10 kilograms has been conveyed to the mixer. This order ensures that the utmost possible portion of the smaller dosed substances is transported through the system and reaches the mixer. As all ingredients are used in the same recipe cleaning between conveying different substances is not required – enabling conveying by order of weight as a suitable solution.”
For optimal space usage and process reliability the piFLOW®f conveyor is installed on top of the mixer eight meters up. “This design allowed the installation with a reasonable conveying distance supporting an efficient process that also leaves space for other necessary transport line installation. It also allowed us to meet all regulations while still achieving an easy material flow” adds Adrian Rolka.
A butterfly valve between each container and the hose sucks in the micro-additives from the respective unit. Together with Piab’s powerful, though energy efficient COAX® vacuum pump it ensures a speed level that keeps the pipeline clean thereby further reducing loss of substances in the process.
“Thanks to our experience with Piab’s vacuum conveyors from other projects and the professional assistance from the local Piab experts we were able to develop an optimal solution for our customers that does not only accelerate the process but also removes unergonomic tasks from its employees,” summarizes Joanna Zielińska-Pałka, Executive Manager at Conberg the cooperation with Piab.
The piFLOW®f vacuum conveyor is widely used in industries where food quality is required. It is employed as an alternative to mechanical conveyors, particularly when dust-free conveying in an enclosed system or little maintenance is required.
Tadeusz Fobke, Vacuum Conveying Product Sales Manager at Piab Poland, adds “Our piFLOW®f series vacuum conveyors are very suitable for conveying petfood or animal food ingredients. Not only do they have a low building height, small footprint, and low noise level, but they are also easy to clean. Therefore, they are a perfect fit with companies that produces several recipes and need to change them often or if oily ingredients are conveyed.”
To support large companies even better, Piab has expanded its piFLOW®i/f product range with a new vacuum conveyor for larger batch volumes. The new piFLOW®i/f has a 28 litre housing and offers possibilities to increase the pump performance. This is done by installing two piBASIC 400 or 600 pumps.
Thereby, the capacity of the conveyor is increased from the current 5 tons per hour (14 litre content and one piBASIC 600 pump) for the now small conveyor to 7.5 tons per hour (28 litre content and two piBASIC 600 pumps).
The Piab conveyors for the food industry are equipped with a housing made of stainless steel (ASTM 304) and the seals, which are in direct contact with the product to be conveyed, meet both the FDA and all European guidelines to meet the requirements of the food industry. Piab's piFLOW®f is also ATEX Dust certified.