Wear protection can deliver productivity improvemnets safeguard quality standards & cut costs for food producers.
- 27 October 2011
- Company & Industry News
The food and beverage industry is under constant pressure to increase productivity and maintain standards of manufacture; at the same time as achieving compliance with increasingly stringent legislation. In order to achieve demanding targets, producers are investing in proven technologies that increase production output by eliminating the reactive costs associated with plant repair and downtime.
One of these technologies should be Wear Protection. However, the wide ranging benefits of the technology are not totally appreciated in the food sector, resulting in its under-use, costing the industry millions in downtime annually. Wear protection is the process of coating or lining process plant and equipment with ceramics, metallics or polymers to extend their life. In many instances, the benefits of protecting plant are threefold: as well as protecting against wear and extending plant life — sometimes by as much as 20 years, the low friction nature of the lining material itself reduces energy usage and increases production by allowing a greater volume of material to be throughput.
Wear protection is required because of the abrasive nature of materials, such as grain, cocoa beans, sugar, oil seeds, and many other coarse ingredients.
The operations of storing, conveying, mixing, blending and transferring these materials brings large volumes of semi-aggressive media into contact with a variety of plant surfaces. This media has the capability to wear out hoppers, feeders, screw conveyors, flumes, cyclones, chutes, mixing equipment and pipework, resulting in lost production and excessive maintenance costs.
These problems can be solved cost effectively and with long term benefits using wear protection. Kingfisher Industrial, a specialist in wear protection across all types of industries, has calculated that, on average, users of its wear protection systems benefit by a factor of 5 times their initial outlay, with many installations providing wear life of up to 20-years following appropriate wear treatment.
This figure is significant because it means food producers benefit from greater utility of their plants, avoiding the downtime and halts in production resulting from the requirement to provide maintenance and repair of equipment at regular intervals, due to problems associated with wear and erosion.
"Considering important factors at the onset, such as the design of the process equipment, together with investment in a suitable lining system to counter the effects of erosion and abrasion from continuous handling of harsh products, means that the requirements for maintenance and replacement of equipment are largely overcome," said John Connolly, MD of Kingfisher Industrial. "Moreover, reduced maintenance requirements over the lifetime of an installation mean reduced risk, reduced cost and more production uptime over longer periods — all of which are critically important to improve the efficiencies of companies that operate 24/7."
Wear protection can be employed at any time in the life of a process system, so users do not have to throw away their existing plant and start again. However, if a system is designed with wear protection from its inception, then overall equipment costs can usually be reduced, as the system chosen to protect the equipment can often remove the requirement to manufacture components using heavier grades of material.
In addition, because high conveying speeds and abrasive materials cause wear of varying intensity at different points in food handling systems, it is often the case that protection need only be applied to areas of plant that are most vulnerable to wear, further reducing upfront costs and improving ROI for the system user.
Kingfisher has developed and deployed wear protection solutions for a wide variety of food and beverage applications. From the delivery of raw product to the plant, Kingfisher assists in the processes of cleaning, drying, separating and refining using pumps, pipework, transfer chutes, mills - and a host of other equipment used to convey or process food materials. The company's ranges of protective systems add significant value to capital plant and equipment, and, depending on the individual characteristics of each process, can make repair and maintenance largely a thing of the past.
As an industry specialist, Kingfisher has continually increased its knowledge base of processes that can benefit from extended service life and reduced maintenance, thanks to the application of wear protection systems. Some of the typical processing plants where Kingfisher has recently achieved success by introducing wear protection technologies to ensure continual operation include sugar, cocoa, grain, brewing and biodiesel manufacture.
In one example, pneumatic conveying pipework used for the transportation of cocoa beans, prior to them being de-husked and roasted, has been manufactured and supplied incorporating a super tough K-ALOX ceramic lining material. The extreme hardness characteristics of these liners prevents wear from compromising the integrity of the system, whilst the liner surface becomes polished due to counteracting the constant abrasion, thus creating a very low coefficient of friction which improves efficiency and eliminates continual maintenance from this part of the process.
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