When considering the capital investment for powder processing equipment, often the hardest part of the decision-making process is finding the right supplier for your needs. Below are a few factors to consider when researching the right supplier.
Consulting: Often the best place to start when choosing the right equipment is to consult with an expert. Look for a firm with an experienced engineering staff that is fully acquainted with the needs of today’s powder processing industries. Be sure they are up to date with typical developments in PAT, CIP, SIP, GMP, and validation requirements and are ready to work with you to provide the best powder processing solution for your application. Also, consider the lineage of their equipment. It should hold a solid reputation for quality and reliability along with an impeccable record consisting of state-of-the-art research and development.
Testing: Put their equipment to the test. Look for an organization that is fully equipped to test your application on the equipment required for your process. Their facility should be fully equipped to demonstrate full–scale production, pilot-, and lab-size equipment, and should allow for first hand evaluation and recording of trial results. Question whether the testing facility is equipped to test special requirements and has appropriate analytical instrumentation.
Another alternative to a test facility is the ability of the supplier to provide equipment for trials on your site. This is especially important for those applications in which the process material or test requirements are impractical for off-site trials. Also, the supplier’s test facility technicians should be available for on-site trials to ensure safe and efficient testing. Also consider the availability of rental equipment from your supplier. This is beneficial when your plant requires additional capacity during seasonal peaks or when producing a product for test markets. This also proves to be a unique solution for reducing capital expense.
Custom Design: It is important to look for a supplier that can custom design powder processing equipment to suit your production facility or process. They should be a leader in design, manufacture, installation, and commission of turnkey systems. The supplier should have substantial experience and expertise in all aspects of dry bulk solids processing and system integration, meaning they should be able to handle all upstream and downstream considerations including preprocessing, feed arrangements, postprocessing, intermediate storage, and packaging. This should all be backed by performance guarantees.
Manufacturing: Question whether the manufacturing facility is fully ISO certified and staffed with specialized craftsmen. Do they have an on-site manufacturing facility that allows for 100% quality control inspection and the ability to customize equipment from start to finish? They should also offer a wide variety of construction materials and variations to their equipment to fit your processing needs. Consider a supplier that provides a full range of factory acceptance trials (FATs). These FATs should include placebo trials and validated CIP washdowns.
Site Services: The supplier should provide services that include all requirements for validation, including installation and operation qualification, full mechanical and process commissioning, and site acceptance testing. Where required, they should generate the necessary protocols in accordance with client requirements in support of the above activities.
Training: Training should be tailored to the complexity of the application and the needs of the client. This can range from simple on-site instructions to in-class training of various functions and operations.
After-Sales Service—Parts, Spares, Maintenance, and Repairs: Consider what will happen if the equipment breaks down or needs additional parts. Does the supplier have a variety of parts on hand? Are they manufactured by the supplier or by a third party? They should have knowledgeable after-sales staff that can rapidly identify required parts and ensure quick delivery when it is most needed.
There are many factors to consider when purchasing powder processing equipment. Finding a full-service supplier with experienced engineers, technical specialists, and a vast array of services is the first step to finding the best equipment for your application.
Kathy Moncur joined Kemutec Powder Technologies in 2007 with a wealth of experience in business-to-business and consumer marketing. She oversees all U.S. marketing and is a member of the Kemutec powder processing equipment sales team.