Bulk Mixing Automation Systems Improve Accuracy and Safety in Critical Mixing Applications

Editor: Dr. Jörg Kempf

Some industries are heavily reliant on a consistent, highly accurate bulk solids mixing process. Errors simply cannot be tolerated in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food processing industries. Fully automated mixing systems reduce the risk.

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Fully automatic dosing systems ensure safe, high-precision mixing results. (Picture: Kokeisl Industrial Systems)
Fully automatic dosing systems ensure safe, high-precision mixing results. (Picture: Kokeisl Industrial Systems)

The bulk mixing process in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food processing industries has to produce consistent, accurate results without fail. Even minute levels of contamination or deviation from the mixing ratio can ruin entire batches or cause sustained damage to the corporate image. Extreme care is also essential when workers handle hazardous substances which pose a significant risk to human health. As even the most conscientious workers are unable to avoid some degree of variability, a fully automatic mixing system which guarantees maximum precision and safety is the best solution. Kokeisl Industrial Systems, a Swiss supplier of bulk solid and intra-plant logistics solutions, offers an automatic scoop, the Kokeisl Picking Robot and fully autonomous automated guided vehicles (AGV) for these applications.

Process automation begins in the receiving area. Following incoming inspection, the raw materials are transferred to internal storage containers and placed into storage. The containers are then moved to the mixing process and weighed with the automatic scoop in the mixing area. The picking robot takes them from there to the production area, eliminating the need to spend a lot of time and effort moving the material into storage and retrieving it again. The system also eliminates the cost of temporary storage. The entire weighing process is automated and ensures complete traceability. Elimination of manual intervention and external containers reduces the risk of contamination or incorrect mixing ratios. Any mixture can be prepared in any batch size with minimal up-front planning.

Automatic Dosing and Handling

The automatic scoop can be seamlessly integrated into the material flow regardless of the dosing quantity or nature of the bulk solids. In contrast to conventional screw conveyor systems, the scoop has a cylindrical, rotating opening with a conical infeed at the top and a free-swinging shut-off and dosing flap at the bottom. The bulk solids fall vertically through the opening (gravity flow). At the rotating section of the opening, the sword-shaped fluidizer moves at constant speed along the conical wall to keep the bulk solids flowing freely without any additional discharge hardware. With a minimum of mechanical parts and very low energy consumption, the module extracts the right amount of materials from many different types of containers. The system can accurately dose hard, crumbly solids as well as soft, tough and fibrous products.

The product is reliably discharged even when the flap is set for the minimum opening. The automatic shovel covers the entire spectrum from a tenth of a gram to several hundred kilograms. Discharge rates of 10–20 m3/h have been obtained at a discharge opening of 150 mm with a number of different bulk solids. Two scales are normally used, because no single scale has the capacity and resolution to handle the entire range. Dosing of large quantities is performed with a large scale, and a small scale is used for small quantities.