Urnex Brands, located in New York State USA, was looking to find a new effective method of transferring their powders into their packet/tablet machinery. They decided to strongly pursue pneumatic driven vacuum conveying as their current mechanical auger setup was creating unexpected problems. The customer was moving bulk pre-mixed citric acid and soda ash powder via a flexible screw conveyor to a Vertical F/F/S packaging machine hopper. They had several formulas of product that could not come into contact with one another. The downtime to clean out the mechanical screw auger conveyors was a major issue as it necessitated an extra worker just to perform this task while trying to reduce the overall downtime and keep production moving. The downtime took up to three hours for cleaning that equated out to almost 600 cases of their product. They were using three screw conveyors. The conveying rate was 1,200 pounds (544 kg) per hour.
Urnex Brands sent sample product to Piab in Hingham to run in our testing lab. Initial concerns were with segregation of blended powders, so product was tested and samples collected at Piab in Hingham, Massachusetts. Based on the lab test, a Piab piFLOW®i (industrial) was determined to be the best unit to use for a 30-day trial at the customer's location.
Favourable results from the trial resulted in a purchase of the trial unit. Piab secured this win due to its simplicity and cost effectiveness. The Piab piFLOW® vacuum conveyor allowed greatly reduced downtimes (cut by 2/3 to one hour and 192 cases lost as opposed to 576 with auger) and was very cost effective when compared to new augers and other pneumatic units. The extra workers dedicated to clean the auger were able to perform other tasks. Their cost savings per year is about $30,000 (€ 21,800) by using Piab. After a few months of production, three additional units have been purchased.