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Digital Re-print November | December 2014
Rotary batch mixers

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16 | November - December 2014


Rotary batch mixers

by Steve Knauth, Marketing Manager, Munson Machinery Co Inc


DM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. is a
leading manufacturer and distributor of vitamin and trace mineral
pre-mixes, ingredients and food additives
used in manufacturing pet food products. In
addition, about 10 percent of the company’s
output is mixes for bovine and swine feed.
“We run about 1100 pre-mixes from
400 different powdered ingredients largely
for pet food producers,” notes Alliance
Nutrition Location Manager Kyle Taylor.
The ingredient list is vast-zinc sulphate, zinc
oxide, manganese, L-pheronine, riboflavin,
lysine, assorted vitamins and minerals, and
a host of other nutritional compounds to
name a few.
“The mixers we use to produce our
blends are critical to the success of our business,” adds Mr. Taylor.
Three of the company's mixers are
Munson Rotary Batch machines that are
over 30 years old and run 24/7.

Versatile Mixers Prevent

“The rotary batch mixers have lasted a
long time, process high volumes, and are
very reliable,” says Mr. Taylor. “Their motors
are a lot smaller than the ones in our paddle
mixers, so they are very energy-efficient.
They also clean up quicker because they discharge completely with little or no product
heel. This is important because of the many
fast changeovers for different customers we
need to make each day,” says Mr. Taylor.
Once a unit discharges, workers stop the
machine, lock the drum and physically get
inside to sweep out residues. “It’s pretty
much a dry process. Sometimes we use
limestone, but no cleansers,” he adds.
Mr Taylor says he prepares each batch
to keep the particle size and bulk density
of his raw materials as uniform as possible
to get the best mix for each product
run. But sometimes this is not possible.
Notwithstanding, even if particle sizes are
significantly different and densities are as
disparate as nine to 38.8 kg/cubic feet, the
rotary batch mixers produce uniform blends.
“The units are versatile. In the past we
used them to do batches of peas and carrots
with virtually no separation, and when we
switched them over to pet food powders

we got the same even results without having
to make any engineering changes.”
The 700 THS-110 model is the smallest
of the plant's three rotary batch mixers with
3.1 cu m capacity. The other two are rated at
5.1 cu m. The 700 THS-110 and 700 TS-180
machines can mix 2727 kg per batch, while
the 700 THC-180 can mix 5454 kg because
of its more powerful motor and gearbox.
Considering their longevity, maintenance
has been light. The machines are extremely
robust, and do not have a lot of moving
parts. Because of their solid steel frames,
alignment is precise. When parts do wear
out, they are still readily available.
“We’ve replaced the main sprockets,
chains, rollers and drive motors twice in
the last 25 years,” notes Mr Taylor, “and
we replace the seals about once a year on
Unlike the company's agitated mixers, the
rotary batch mixers do not heat the material,
preventing delicate and expensive additives,
such as vitamins with time-release coatings,
from breaking down.
Individual product campaigns or runs on
the rotary batch mixers average between
0.9 and 2.7 tonnes, but can go as high as
27 tonnes for bulk loads, which are packed
into pneumatic trucks, or hopper bottoms as
they’re also called, that customers provide.
Smaller batches are packed either in 454
kg to 1000 kg bulk bags or standard bags
in the 9-27 kg range. The company has
three bagging lines and four bulk bag lines.
At an average six minutes per batch, ADM
completes about 60 batches per day for an
average weekly output of 843 tonnes.

Quality Approaches Food Grade

Powder flow at the ADM facility is largely
gravity fed over four floors, and assisted by
“drags,” the name for paddles hooked to
U-shaped conveyor chains. At the top level,
workers feed the special ingredient handadds into the mixers. One floor below are
the mixers, along with 17 bulk bins for 12
different bulk ingredients that automatically
batch into the three units. Surge bins, which
are rectangular steel holding tanks sized to
accommodate one entire load from the mixers, are located on the second floor. These
in turn feed the bulk loaders, bulk bags, and
bag lines on the ground floor.

Metal detectors, which use either ceramic
or rare earth magnets, are in place at strategic locations. “If material coming in has gone
through a grinding process for instance, calcium carbonate which starts as large rocks-we
want to be sure we can catch a loose bolt,
broken blade, or other item from equipment
failure, which is rare, but nothing we want to
take chances with,” explains Mr Taylor.
Mixer studies are commonplace at
ADM. Their purpose is to evaluate homogeneity of batches to ensure that each
customer gets the same quality of product
time after time.
Small samples of the batch are taken
from various areas of the mixer (around
15 typically), and the number of particles
of each ingredient is counted. The number
of counted particles in each sample is compared to the average (mean) of the batch
recipe. A lower coefficient of variation (CV)
number is preferred indicating the samples
are close to the desired theoretical perfectly
homogenous blend, and variation is small
throughout the batch. That is, homogeneity
is consistent throughout the batch. Typically,
any CV below 5 is considered a high quality
For example, in two typical studies of
the rotary batch mixers at ADM, the CV
numbers came out below 5 – 4.01, 4.18,
4.30, 1.49 – indicating high batch quality and
"Assays are an important part of the
quality control program we’ve developed
together with our customers over the years,”
explains Mr. Taylor.
While the ADM plant is considered
“feed-grade,” high-tech quality and other
controls are moving it toward food-grade.
“Companies involved in companion animal
feed are going toward that way of doing
things,” he says.
The rotary batch machines at ADM have
been mixing heavy volumes for decades,
and will likely continue for decades to come.
“Sooner or later, like everything else, they
will be up for replacement,” admits Mr.
Taylor, “but considering how robust and
well designed they are, an overhaul if and
when needed could make them last another
20 years.”



November - December 2014 | 17

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November - December 2014

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