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Conveying System Helps Food Manufacturer Improve Processes

The E-finity system

This past summer, a formidable U.S.-based food manufacturer needed to expand its current product line and was investigating pneumatic conveying technology available on the market. Efficiency and low product degradation were two primary concerns. Having viewed MAC Equipment’s E-finity system at the 2010 Powder & Bulk Solids (PTXi) exposition, the operations manager was interested in the benefits this system could bring to the operation.

Of special interest was the revolutionary air control system used on the E-finity. The air control system operating this continuous dense-phase convey system uses an airlock to feed material into the convey line. Precise pressure monitoring and airflow corrections allow the system to operate efficiently under all conditions and gently induce materials through the convey line in slug form. This ability made the E-finity ideal for the granular material used in this particular food production facility.

Additionally, the operations manager realized additional potential of an E-finity system when he had more than one system to operate. Unless compressed air is being employed, it is typical to have a dedicated air source for each operating system. The unique E-finity air control creates a functional header at any required pressure within the limits of the air sources (3-30 PSIG). Therefore, a single air source (a PD blower in this case) was employed to operate 2-3 different systems simultaneously.

Flow diagram of the E-finity system

The result was a significant cost savings in both equipment and installation, with continued savings in operation and maintenance moving forward. The various systems can be turned on and off as needed and air delivery from the PD blower compensates automatically. For applications that exceed the capability of a PD blower, pressure pumps can be used in the same way to achieve pressures up to 30 PSIG. In both cases, the energy savings are significant versus compressed air-driven systems since the energy required to generate the airflow is 4-7 times less than using standard plant compressed air.

The E-finity air controls direct the air source to work in tune with the air control valve in a proprietary, patent-pending control methodology that allows the correct volume of air to be delivered at the minimum pressure required to transport the material. Airflow adjustment and correction is critical to stable operation of a continuous dense-phase system utilizing an airlock. The E-finity control methodology accomplishes the required airflow corrections automatically. The end result is a smarter pneumatic convey system that can handle fragile materials and use less energy than before.

Alternate angle of the E-finity system

In addition to the E-finity air controls, other system features complement the technology. Once the material is beyond the feedpoint, other factors can influence the function and performance of a gentle handling pneumatic convey system. Pipe joints are a major source of material damage and product contamination in many systems. The no-ledge coupling completes a pipe joint on straights and elbows to create a ledge-free environment for reduced friction and crevices. Full port tunnel diverter valves allow material to be directed to multiple destinations in a non-obstructive and clean fashion. Finally, a full line of filter receivers allow material to be gently deposited at the destination and the convey air volume properly filtered before being returned to the atmosphere.

The producer was able to observe first-hand extensive tests using its granular material with this technology. At the end of the testing, the producer concluded that the E-finity system was the best solution for its need to handle product efficiently and with low degradation. The long-term cost savings in operating multiple dense-phase pneumatic convey systems from a single low-pressure air source was another determining factor in this producer’s decision to select the E-finity for its operation.

To-date, the E-finity system is in operation at a number of facilities, handling granular and pelleted materials, and has proven itself on many variations of pet foods, cereals, nuts, and grains.

MAC Equipment Inc. (Kansas City, MO) designs and manufactures a complete line of pneumatic conveying and air filtration equipment. For more information, call 816-891-9300 or visit www.macequipment.com.