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by Dave Hesketh

Roaster Issues — Selecting Material Handling Equipment

Categories: 2012, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

12_12 23-ACoffee han­dling solu­tions in today’s envi­ron­ment require a con­sid­ered focus on safety, energy con­sump­tion and reli­a­bil­ity. There are a num­ber of com­pa­nies who offer mate­r­ial han­dling and con­vey­ing sys­tems as merely an acces­sory for other equip­ment. Unfortunately, their prod­uct and expe­ri­ence often reflects this. Given the poten­tial for prob­lems with all but the freest flow­ing of mate­ri­als, it is essen­tial to select a sup­plier who spe­cial­izes in mate­r­ial han­dling. Look for a com­pany that has expe­ri­ence with the prod­ucts you han­dle and one that has sig­nif­i­cant tech­ni­cal exper­tise to apply their equip­ment to the spe­cific require­ments of the appli­ca­tion. This nor­mally requires an engi­neered solu­tion, with lay­out draw­ings and any nec­es­sary cus­tom designed parts to adapt the sys­tem to suit the appli­ca­tion and loca­tion. Does the sup­plier offer a prod­uct test? Testing of your exact mate­r­ial will ensure that the rec­om­mended solu­tion oper­ates as expected and this step often elim­i­nates sur­prises at startup. Does the sup­plier guar­an­tee their rec­om­mended solu­tion and pro­vide instal­la­tion and post sales sup­port? Issues can arise dur­ing the instal­la­tion and you want a sup­plier com­mit­ted to quickly and effec­tively work through these with you.

From an equip­ment per­spec­tive con­sider a ven­dor who can sup­ply solu­tions for mov­ing the cof­fee between processes with a com­plete range of con­vey­ors, fill­ing and dis­charge sys­tems with high lev­els of con­tain­ment. Keep in mind that dur­ing the mate­r­ial han­dling process, what­ever the indus­try, even the most harm­less ingre­di­ents can become a haz­ard when they appear as dust in the atmos­phere. ‘Homemade’ fab­ri­ca­tions can never match the safety, reli­a­bil­ity and con­tain­ment offered by spe­cial­ist sup­pli­ers demanded by today’s indus­trial prac­tices and cur­rent leg­is­la­tion. Your mate­r­ial han­dling solu­tion may include silo/hopper/container/bag unload­ing, process links (con­vey­ing between processes or from process to pack­ag­ing) and con­tainer fill­ing (super sack/bulk bag, bag, box or tote filling).

Bag/Container Unloading: Raw ingre­di­ents can arrive in a vari­ety of bulk con­tain­ers from 50 lb. bags to 2,000 lb. super sacks/bulk bags or even drums, boxes and totes, and need to be trans­ported to the process from these con­tain­ers. Specialist sup­pli­ers offer mate­r­ial han­dling equip­ment to empty and fill these var­i­ous con­tain­ers and offer sev­eral con­vey­ing and con­trolled feed options suit­able for con­vey­ing whole green cof­fee beans, roasted cof­fee beans and ground cof­fee from the con­tain­ers to the roast­ing process.

Silo/Hopper Unloading: Depending on the require­ment, this can be as sim­ple as a slide gate or but­ter­fly valve with a vol­u­met­ric feed or as com­plex as a loss in weight, load cell and PLC weight con­trolled feed using a bin acti­va­tor. Bin acti­va­tors use the angle of repose of the mate­r­ial and tilt­ing lou­ver blades with vibra­tion assis­tance to con­trol prod­uct flow in an accu­rate and con­trolled feed to the next part of the process. The cor­rect selec­tion of equip­ment here could elim­i­nate a con­veyor or process step.

Process Link Equipment solu­tions vary based on spe­cific appli­ca­tion require­ments. Roasters should con­sider three mechan­i­cal con­vey­ing methods.

Flexible Screw Conveyors (FSC) pro­vide dust free, low energy, low main­te­nance and low cost con­vey­ing solu­tions. FSCs pro­vide gen­tle han­dling and con­stant remix­ing of the con­veyor con­tents. Constant mix­ing is an inter­est­ing advan­tage of this type of con­veyor. A centre-less auger rotates within a sealed tube and the speed and heli­cal action of the screw encour­age the prod­uct in the con­veyor to rotate with the screw with each par­ti­cle in motion. This cre­ates a con­stant tum­bling effect that pro­vides a homoge­nous mix of par­ti­cles in the con­veyor and is essen­tial when feed­ing pre-mixed ingre­di­ents to pack­ag­ing or process machines. It is also pos­si­ble to use this type of con­veyor as an ingre­di­ent mixer by adding a sec­ond prod­uct inlet onto a con­veyor. A con­trolled feed will pro­vide a pro­por­tional ingre­di­ent mix­ture. Selection of con­veyor size, screw sec­tion and speed are deter­mined dur­ing testing.

Aero-Mechanical Conveyors (AMC) are often over­looked but are very effi­cient for con­vey­ing cof­fee. This type of con­veyor pro­vides high con­vey­ing capac­i­ties and a total batch trans­fer. The totally enclosed tubu­lar sys­tem pro­vides a path for the dri­ven rope and disc assem­bly to move around the cir­cuit and the result is a gen­tle con­vey­ing action and a reli­able means of trans­port­ing cof­fee from process A to B.

A Georgia based roaster has used an AMC for 8 hours per day for 14 years to trans­fer blends of roasted cof­fee from a mixer to a pack­ag­ing machine with­out any new com­po­nents. The reli­a­bil­ity and longevity of this equip­ment solu­tion indi­cates that this type of con­veyor was cor­rectly selected for the task.

Tubular Drag Conveying: This con­veyor cir­cuit is made up of straight and curved tubes to pro­vide a totally enclosed tubu­lar sys­tem that pro­vides a path for a dri­ven rope and disc assem­bly to move around the cir­cuit. The result is very gen­tle con­vey­ing action. This is more sophis­ti­cated than an FSC or AMC and allows for com­plex cir­cuits with mul­ti­ple inlet and dis­charge points. It does not use air as a con­vey­ing medium. Instead it relies on the equally pitched discs along the cable to form equal pock­ets within the con­vey­ing cir­cuit that are suit­able for con­tain­ing cof­fee in all its forms. When the rope and disc assem­bly are in motion (dri­ven by a sprocket) the cof­fee fed through an inlet port is con­tained within the trav­el­ling pock­ets and gen­tly dragged around the cir­cuit until it reaches a dis­charge out­let in the cir­cuit. This con­veyor pro­vides total batch trans­fer but sac­ri­fices con­vey­ing rate due to a lower oper­at­ing speed than an AMC. Operating speed is deter­mined by the com­plex­ity of the cir­cuit and dis­tance travelled.

Working with a sup­plier that offers mul­ti­ple con­vey­ing prod­ucts will ensure that the strengths of each con­vey­ing method are objec­tively con­sid­ered for your application.

Container Filling: If a roaster doesn’t com­plete pack­ag­ing after roast­ing, they may need to move bulk vol­umes of cof­fee and there­fore require a fill­ing sys­tem. These are avail­able with var­i­ous lev­els of com­plex­ity to suit every bud­get. Generally the larger the bud­get the more auto­mated the process and this means it will be more efficient.

For exam­ple, fill­ing machines are designed with new pro­gram­ma­ble con­trollers designed to increase fill­ing accu­racy and cycle speed. Automatic gain in weight adjust­ment mon­i­tors com­pen­sates for any weight vari­a­tions within an accu­racy of +/- 1%. This level of sophis­ti­ca­tion on fillers is ideal for com­pa­nies seek­ing NTEP approval. There are also many cus­tom fea­tures avail­able to suit dif­fer­ent con­tain­ers and applications.

The most reli­able sup­pli­ers of mate­r­ial han­dling equip­ment will have a wide range of prod­ucts to choose from when rec­om­mend­ing a solu­tion, can eas­ily cus­tomize their equip­ment for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, pro­vide a mate­r­ial test and have a strong post sales sup­port track record.  In other words, the right sup­plier will be more than a ven­dor but a part­ner with a vested inter­est in pro­vid­ing a safe, effi­cient and reli­able solution.

David Hesketh is Vice President of Engineering for Spiroflow Systems, Inc. Hesketh has 26 years expe­ri­ence in mate­r­ial han­dling par­tic­u­larly the design and devel­op­ment of con­vey­ors and bulk han­dling equip­ment. He has worked for Spiroflow in the United States and the United Kingdom for 23 years and holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Central Lancashire.

Coffee Trends Show No Chance of Running out of Steam as Tesco Announce Coffee Shop Move

Categories: 2012, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This is a guest post by Wilkes Group which is a high pro­file UK com­pany and spe­cialise in dif­fer­ent kinds of vend­ing machines. Coffee Vending Machines by Wilkes Group Vending are help­ing many busi­nesses to have an easy access to coffee.

With a pre­dicted 5719 branded cof­fee shops in the United Kingdom by the end of 2013, it seems that the nation’s thirst of cof­fee has not yet abated.

To cou­ple this fig­ure, Tesco have just announced that they too will be leav­ing their mark on the £5bn UK mar­ket as they merge com­pa­nies with Harris + Hoole, a British busi­ness run by two Australian siblings.

In a state­ment on the H + H blog last Thursday, the com­pany con­firmed that they had been indeed in talks with the shop­ping giant and have since found invest­ment from them with a minor­ity share in Harris + Hoole.

It is pre­dicted that the site of the new busi­ness is to be found on Sycamore Road in Amersham and is to be mar­keted as a family-run arti­sanal estab­lish­ment. At the moment, the Australian cof­fee entre­pre­neurs are said to be in dis­cus­sion to buy up to fif­teen other stores.

Despite a prospec­tive six­teen stores by the end of the year, they have a long way to go to bite into a fair share of the cof­fee market:

At the end of 2010, there were a total of 4645 branded cof­fee shops in the United Kingdom, roughly one every ten square miles of the country.

The biggest cof­fee boost of recent is of course the deci­sion of Starbucks to intro­duce over 200 drive-thru cof­fee stores; gen­er­at­ing jobs for up to 5,000 peo­ple. Despite deliv­er­ing a loss of £47 mil­lion in 2009 and £34 mil­lion in 2010, the com­pany is now appeal­ing to the quick and easy morn­ing rush that faces many bleary eyed motorists.

Despite Starbucks loss since the begin­ning of the reces­sion, its biggest rival, Costa Coffee received an 8% increase in growth over 2011. In a state­ment in 2010, chief exec­u­tive of Starbucks, Howard Stultz,  said:

The place that con­cerns us most is west­ern Europe and, specif­i­cally, the UK. The UK is in a spiral.”

Despite all the doom and gloom, these fig­ures are of course now more than a sec­ond old as cof­fee drinkers can now relax with their favourite hot bev­er­age as Starbucks released record third quar­ter results for 2012; show­ing a global growth of 13% to $3.3 bil­lion – almost two thirds of the entire UK market.

Interestingly, Britain’s love of the hot stuff isn’t as con­tem­po­rary as some may pre­sume. In fact the first cof­fee­house opened in London way back on 1651, almost 320 years before the first Starbucks store opened in Seattle.

Perhaps more inter­est­ing in the his­tory of the cof­fee shop, is that in 1675 they were very nearly banned in their entirety through­out the Kingdom. Indeed, cof­fee houses made King Charles II very ner­vous indeed, and con­sid­ered them hot­houses for polit­i­cal chat­ting and dis­sent. On December 29th 1675 he issued a procla­ma­tion stating:

Whereas it is most appar­ent, that the Multitude of Coffee-Houses of late years set up and kept within the Kingdom, the Dominion of Wales, and the Town of Berwick on Tweed, and the great resort of Idle and dis­af­fected per­sons to them, have pro­duced very evil and dan­ger­ous effects…”

Unsurprisingly, the yearn for the brown bev­er­age already had its claws on the every­day Brit, and the procla­ma­tion was with­drawn on the 8th of January 1676.

Today how­ever there seems to be no limit for cof­fee; along­side their drive-thru cof­fee stores, Starbucks have announced the offer­ing of alco­hol in some US states, bring­ing their cof­fee stores in line with inde­pen­dent European counterparts.

With 11,000 stores in the US alone, com­pared to 7,000 in all other coun­tries, over the next year, the chain plans to open 1,200 stores over the next twelve months; around three stores a day, with only half of them in the United States.

Considering that, the ques­tion must then be asked as to how this gar­gan­tuan leap will affect com­pa­nies like Harris + Hoole, who instead may not have the shoul­ders of other giants to stand on; where will their life­line come from?

Inline Continuous Blending Offers Streamlined Flexibility as the Coffee Industry Embraces Ground Coffee Additives

Categories: 2011, DecemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

As the cof­fee indus­try devel­ops new prod­ucts, con­sumers are enjoy­ing an ever-increasing num­ber of cof­fees to choose from. As con­sumers, we may enjoy our favorite hol­i­day spice fla­vor in December and a new vitamin-infused blend in January. With this con­tin­u­ous devel­op­ment of new cof­fee prod­ucts, it is a con­stant chal­lenge to stream­line coffee-based man­u­fac­tur­ing. Whatever the para­me­ters, we are all in search of equip­ment that saves time, money and pro­duces bet­ter, more con­sis­tent, results.

The trend to add fla­vor­ings to cof­fee is quickly evolv­ing and now cof­fee indus­try lead­ers are devel­op­ing cof­fee prod­ucts mixed with other addi­tives such as vit­a­mins and nutraceu­ti­cals. This type of blend­ing has typ­i­cally been han­dled with V-blenders but with the on going chal­lenge to min­i­mize cost, energy, space, clean­ing down­time, prod­uct waste, time and labor, there is a bet­ter alternative.

Many com­pa­nies use V-blenders to add var­i­ous addi­tives to their ground cof­fee. V-blenders are designed to pro­vide an intense mix­ing action, in which the ground cof­fee is repeat­edly rotated, divided, and mixed. Although mix­ing with V-blenders is an ade­quate and tested method, pri­mar­ily because it is a batch oper­a­tion it can be costly, time con­sum­ing, and wasteful.

Batch pro­cess­ing is an oper­a­tor inten­sive oper­a­tion that requires care­ful mea­sur­ing of ingre­di­ents and, when fac­tor­ing in human error, can lead to an incon­sis­tent end product.

With the increas­ing vari­a­tions of ground cof­fee prod­ucts, there is an improved method to mix a mul­ti­tude of addi­tives quickly and effec­tively. Inline twin and multi screw con­tin­u­ous blend­ing in com­bi­na­tion with flex­i­ble screw con­vey­ing is a new and bet­ter choice for eas­ily mix­ing addi­tives because it saves time and money while max­i­miz­ing flexibility.

ITS Continuous Blender

An inline twin screw (ITS) con­tin­u­ous pro­por­tional blender achieves thor­ough mix­ing in a frac­tion of the time required by con­ven­tional V-blender or other tra­di­tional mix­ing meth­ods. With an eas­ily adjustable blend ratio it adds fla­vor­ings, vit­a­mins, nutraceu­ti­cals, and even liq­uids for cof­fee mix­ing applications.

The use of ITS Continuous Blenders is new for the cof­fee indus­try and incor­po­rates a novel prin­ci­ple where a sec­ondary ingre­di­ent is intro­duced directly into the cen­ter of the flow of the pri­mary ingre­di­ent. The two or more rotat­ing spiral-type con­vey­ors inside the blender are of dif­fer­ent diam­e­ters, with the tube of the smaller con­veyor located within the spi­ral of the larger.

The tube of the smaller con­veyor extends beyond the inlet hop­per of the larger con­veyor. The unique design of an ITS Continuous Blender reduces or elim­i­nates strat­i­fi­ca­tion of dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents. This type of blender can deliver vol­u­met­ric accu­racy of +/- 2% and gravi­met­ric accu­racy of +/- .5–1.0%.

As the dia­gram shows, the outer tube of the con­veyor for the pow­dered addi­tive extends inside the rotat­ing spi­ral of the con­veyor trans­port­ing the ground cof­fee. By doing it this way, the pow­der is directly intro­duced into the flow of cof­fee. In this exam­ple there are three dos­ing units that are arranged hor­i­zon­tally to deliver ground cof­fee mix.

An ITS Continuous Blender pro­duces mix qual­ity that out per­forms more expen­sive batch equip­ment. It requires lit­tle floor space and mixes so thor­oughly that no sep­a­ra­tion of pow­dered addi­tive and ground cof­fee occurs. With an adjustable speed motor, a plant oper­a­tor can decide which speed best fits the oper­a­tion. Operator labor typ­i­cally asso­ci­ated with batch oper­a­tions is sig­nif­i­cantly reduced. Because exact quan­ti­ties can be mixed based on cus­tomer demand, the desired mixed prod­uct can be deliv­ered in a time­lier man­ner. Too much or too lit­tle fin­ished prod­uct, often the result of batch pro­cess­ing, becomes a thing of the past.

A food-grade san­i­tary ITS Continuous Blender is designed with quick release con­nec­tions for ease in dis­as­sem­bly and clean­ing – another labor sav­ing advan­tage. An opti­mally designed ITS Continuous Blender is made from stan­dard sized rota­tion con­vey­ors and can be designed for as lit­tle as 100 lb./hr up to 10 tons/hr.

ITS Continuous Blending a Natural Fit with Flexible Screw Conveyors

Flexible screw con­vey­ing is the seam­less con­vey­ing choice when using ITS Continuous Blenders and is ideal for con­vey­ing ground cof­fee. Often the sim­plest and low­est cost­ing solu­tion, Flexible Screw Conveyors (FSCs) offer easy and afford­able ways to trans­fer mate­ri­als from Point A to Point B. They can move up to 40 tons/hr and can trans­fer prod­ucts across any dis­tance by link­ing con­vey­ors together.

FSCs use spe­cial heat treated, tem­pered car­bon or stain­less steel spi­rals that rotate inside a san­i­tary UHMWP food grade tube which is ideal for pow­dered fla­vor­ings, vit­a­mins, nutraceu­ti­cals and ground cof­fee applications.

The flex­i­ble part of the FSC means the con­veyor can be curved to some extent. Depending on the diam­e­ter of the tube, FSCs pro­vide users with flex­i­bil­ity to fit in tight spaces or around obsta­cles between the inlet and the outlet.

A FSC is inher­ently sim­ple, a major advan­tage in both pop­u­lar­ity and prod­uct flex­i­bil­ity. FSCs are used across a wide vari­ety of indus­tries due to the low ini­tial cost, low main­te­nance, low threat of down­time and quick installation.

Conclusion

New cost effec­tive and time sav­ing options that offer con­sis­tent and reli­able mix­ing results are out there. ITS Continuous Blenders and FSCs are ideal for the cof­fee indus­try and can be cus­tom fit into any plant and cus­tom designed for any ground coffee/additive appli­ca­tion. These prod­ucts ensure extremely accu­rate & flex­i­ble mix­ing while sav­ing time and money tra­di­tional meth­ods can­not achieve.

Mr. Michel Podevyn, President, Spiroflow Systems, first estab­lished Spiroflow Systems, Ltd. In Lancashire, United Kingdom in 1971 before form­ing Spiroflow Systems, Inc. in Monroe, NC. He has been instru­men­tal in the devel­op­ment of the Flexible Screw Conveyor that is now uni­ver­sally used across all process indus­tries as well as a range of Bulk Bag Filling and Bulk Bag Discharging prod­ucts. Mr. Podevyn’s inge­nu­ity and lead­er­ship has made Spiroflow Systems a world-wide leader in mate­r­ial handling.