Powtech 2017 The Latest Preparations for Powtech Run at Full Blast

Author / Editor: Sabine Mühlenkamp / Dr. Jörg Kempf

Will the visitor record of 16,000 for the previous event be broken this year? There is no reason why it should not be like that with regard to the focus topics of Powtech 2017. And the challenges of the bulk solid process industry are unabatedly high. Containment, traceability and, of course, digitalization demand new ideas and technologies.

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Powtech ist more than purely a technology fair. Here, work, discussion and technical exchange among engineers open new valuable contacts.
Powtech ist more than purely a technology fair. Here, work, discussion and technical exchange among engineers open new valuable contacts.
(Source: Nürnberg Messe / Heiko Stahl)

Around half of all products in the chemical industry come as powders, in particles or granulates, the processing of which often has its pitfalls. Although the theoretical behaviour of bulk solids is understood to a certain degree, in practice, however, it frequently occurs that it is simply not calculable. For example, the bulk solid is flooding instead of free flowing; forms arches; or filling will be successful three times, but in the fourth batch the material suddenly comes to a standstill.

Harald Heinrici, Schwedes+Schulze: “Mixing procedures are, in particular, a tremendous challenge from the viewpoint of quality assurance.”
Harald Heinrici, Schwedes+Schulze: “Mixing procedures are, in particular, a tremendous challenge from the viewpoint of quality assurance.”
(Source: Mühlenkamp)

But not only the particle properties make life hard for users. It’s also a fact that these change during a process. So, for handling bulk solids, the history must always be considered. For example, this is the case when powders and granulates are stored. “In unadjusted silo design, bulk solids can change and are no longer capable of being filled“, describes Dr. Harald Heinrici, official expert and CEO of Schwedes+Schulze, a specialist for silo design, bulk solids handling and powder testing.

Since a long time, Heinrici advocates that the silo is no longer only considered for material storage. One must look at the overall system, because there are also many challenges in the follow-up process, which do not cause any problems at first sight, but which have enormous consequences later — in particular, from the viewpoint of product quality. Among these is an uneven mass flow, which can disturb the entire process, because a continuous mixer is directly connected after the silo.

Another problem, in particular from the viewpoint of quality assurance, is demixing in the process. “Just to take the feed industry: the feed consists of highly complex product compositions, which must be strictly complied with. Or mortar compositions, which are generally high-tech products. And last not least detergents, in which each expects a consistent mixing of white and colored particles in the end packaging”, Heinrici states some examples. The particular challenge in this case is that these products are good flowing — a product property, which forces mixing. To find the right way, the silo and all relevant components must be well-matched with one another.

Six Halls Full of Technology

It is thus only logical that many visitors find the way to Nuremberg to be informed about different systems, apparatuses and components for the mechanical process technology. The range extends over six halls (hall 1, 2, 3, 3A, 4 and 4A), which is flanked by a comprehensive accompanying program.

For example, the daily live displays of explosion protection equipment in the outdoor areas at the trade fair will also offer a number of “lightbulb” moments. A special show by industry association VDMA will deal with the topic of maintaining air quality and drying, and will present efficient solutions for dust-free, clean-air and therefore safe production environments.

Digitalization Only Slowly Finds Its Way

Traditionally, Powtech brings together plant designers and operators from almost all segments, including chemicals and pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, non-metallic minerals, recycling and ceramics. Each segment has its own demands, but several trends that will have a lasting effect on systems, apparatus and components in the next few years are witnessed overall.

The trend for digitalization is not only seen in the chemical industry. Process digitalization helps in achieving the goal of ensuring consistently high product quality, 24/7. The focus is also on curbing production costs and increasing energy and resource efficiency. What’s needed is maximum safety in the manufacturing process while maintaining a high level of flexibility — at multiple locations around the world.

Sylvia Bräunlein, Operations Director Chemicals Division at Hosokawa Alpine in Augsburg/Germany, finds there are many different demands facing mechanical engineers and plant manufacturers: “Single machines that in-house engineering departments incorporate into an overall system are a thing of the past. What’s needed instead is the supply of complete systems with guaranteed process values, which comply with current safety standards and norms. To make this happen, you need a high level of system automation: only once that’s in place can you optimise your productivity, ensure stable process operation and put remote maintenance and predictive maintenance in place in order to minimise downtimes.”

The challenge: Many components in the bulk solids sector are still mechanical. It’s a giant step to refit these devices so that they also provide information digitally. At Powtech, first examples will be presented, for example at Zeppelin Systems, whose mechanical components not only independently update their electronic nameplate via App, but also can set up a chat to the service technicians. And this shall only be the company’s first step to a broad digitalization strategy.

With regard to condition monitoring, filling and packaging systems are considerably more advanced. Bearing damages as well as damages of filling and dosing equipment are giving themselves away, for example by vibrations, unusual noise or heat. Such deviations can be well identified via sensors so that influence can be taken on time. Therefore, not only is a standstill prevented, but also plants reach an optimal operating point.

Individualization of Products

With a view to the future, digitalization and other concepts, that run under the roof of Industry 4.0 applications, will reach even further. Marijke Vreugdenhil, Marketing Manager at Dutch KSE Process Technology, describes the demands that plant operators currently place on process control systems: “The biggest challenge is the ever-increasing flexibility that plants, and therefore also the control systems, are expected to offer. It’s a consequence of increasing product individualisation.”

Additional Information
Powtech 2017: Key Points in Brief

In 2017, Powtech takes place for the 20th time in Nuremberg — around 900 exhibitors show the entire spectrum of powder, granulate and bulk material technologies. These reflect the current status of the mechanical process technology and analysis. Last year, at the fair, more than 16,000 industry visitors came to Nuremberg. 891 companies and institutions from 31 countries held exhibitions and expressed their satisfaction with the trade fair.

Venue: Exhibition Centre Nuremberg

Date: September 26–28, 2017

Opening Times: 09:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (Tuesday and Wednesday), 09:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. (Thursday)

Powtech is also represented internationally at following exhibitions:

  • IPB China: International Powder & Bulk Solids Processing Conference & Exhibition, October 16–18, 2017, Shanghai, China
  • Powder & Bulk Solids India, International Conference & Exhibition on Storing, Handling and Processing Bulk Solids and Powder, October 11–13, 2018, Mumbai, India

So, for example, farmers demand their own specially formulated feed mixes, and feed producers respond by flexibly changing their recipes. “On this basis we can assume that every farm animal will soon have its own specially formulated food, a phenomenon we can already see in the pet food industry. Another hot topic, of course, will be the need for absolute traceability — i.e. tracking and tracing — in future, from seed through to the final meat product.”

Containment Not Only in the Pharma Sector

There are also new regulatory requirements. Thus, the topic of Reach is slightly out of focus. With regard to Reach, several companies must change in thinking and convert their previous open processes in closed procedures. This must not always be a disadvantage, but also offers new chances for the process design. However, several modifications are necessary, when examining today’s conventional multistage procedures for processing solids: Materials must be filled from big-bags, crushed and blended with additives. This mixture or the intermediate product must then be filled in other containers, before reaching the next process step or even the end customer.

To transform this open handling process in a closed process, concepts exist, which also have the cost factor in view. In this case, it helps to seek contact with the apparatus engineers. In addition, such aspects as batch integrity and prevention of product spreading as well as various hygienic requirements must also be taken into consideration, which for a long time no longer only concern the pharmaceutical applications.

Focus: Explosion Protection

Above all, there are the requirements for explosion and fire prevention. Even if the broom is always used as the simplest means for the prevention of dust explosions (a clean production is in fact the main prerequisite for safe operation), advanced explosion protection measures are a must at many systems of the Powtech exhibitors. Since close contact with specialists is indispensable in this area, a visit to Nuremberg is thus worth twice as much.

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