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Multi-Purpose Systems How Valve Solutions Lower Production Costs in Multi-Purpose Systems

Author / Editor: Thomas Schulz / Doris Popp

By cleaning multi-purpose systems considerable sums of money may simply be washed away. An example from the cosmetics industry will show how these losses can be in certain cases significantly reduced.

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Distributors ready for installation and connection before delivery to the customer. The distributor was based on stainless steel ball valves VAPB with pneumatic quarter-turn actuators DFPB (small picture).
Distributors ready for installation and connection before delivery to the customer. The distributor was based on stainless steel ball valves VAPB with pneumatic quarter-turn actuators DFPB (small picture).
(Picture: Festo)

In many manufacturing processes and industry segments, powders and liquids are measured out, mixed and distributed. Water and chemicals, sugar, colourings, flavourings, and perfumes are only a few of the ingredients which are used. Depending on the raw material in question, the costs can vary from a few euro/m³, for example for water and bulk chemicals, to five-figure sums and more per litre for flavourings and perfumes. In large production plants, these materials are fed from storage tanks via piping and valves to the relevant mixers.

Due to the number of product variants, for example in the case of beverages, body care products, cleaning agents and pharmaceuticals, the products are usually produced in batches. This is carried out in multi-purpose systems.

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To ensure that the first bottles of men’s shower gel to be produced do not smell of apricot vanilla, all the piping and valves from the storage tanks to the mixers and filling machines have to be thoroughly cleaned each time production is changed over. Each time the equipment is cleaned, product is lost. Depending on the material and the size of the plant considerable sums of money may simply be washed away. Over the course of a year, this may add up to six-figure sums or more. An example from the cosmetics industry will show how these losses can be in certain cases significantly reduced.

Plant Design Determines Cleaning Efficiency

The design of the plant and the cleaning processes are generally the factors that affect the quality and cost of a cleaning process and its duration. The cleanability of a multi-purpose system depends not only on the product being produced but also on the degree of cleanliness required. Incorrect plant design can significantly increase the cost of cleaning and the necessary plant downtime or lead to poor cleaning results.

These are critical aspects, regardless of the industry segment and the product, and will in all cases result in unnecessarily high costs.

The layout and dimensioning of the valves used for distributing the different media is one of the vital features for successful and efficient cleaning. Due to the large volumes which are processed in beverage and milk plants, it has been the practice for many years to work with so-called mixproof valve nodes, mostly in nominal diameters (ND) 40–100 mm. These enable a large number of functions to be combined in a very small space and connect the different components in a space-saving way.

The nominal diameters used in the pharmaceutical industry are usually between 10 and 25. Given these nominal diameters, multi-port diaphragm valve manifolds best meet the demanding criteria of this industry for cleanability and sterilisation.

The function of these valve manifolds resembles in principle that of the valve nodes used in the beverage industry. In the case of the production of cosmetics and body care products, inexpensive ball valves made from stainless steel are very often used.

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