The traditional method for blending liquids has long been batch production in a batch tank. But another option that has a number of advantages is continuous, or in-line, blending.
A juice producer that needed to increase capacity in the liquid blending area chose to invest in a continuous blender instead of investing in three more batch tanks. This meant they didn’t need to extend the plant, thanks to the compact design of the continuous blender – and that they needed fewer tanks.
Fewer tanks also means you can start production more quickly, if the liquid blending area has been the weak point. It also means you can have fewer people in the blending area, since fewer batch tanks need to be prepared to feed the lines.
Running continuously, operators can now make concentrated premixes instead of finished product. If the premix is five times more concentrated, they only need to prepare one-fifth of the number of batches that were previously required.
Eliminating a lot of hardware by switching from batch to continuous liquid blending saves a lot of money thanks to less cleaning in place (CIP) – as there is simply less to clean. In fact water usage is about 50% lower compared to batch, and with energy usage down by about 20%. Plus you save even more money by reducing waste.
At the juice maker in question, continuous production meant they now have fewer surfaces to clean and could save three hours/week (150 hours/year), giving an annual savings of €1,800.
Furthermore, since the juice maker did not need the extra stirrers in the tanks, they could cut power consumption by 7,920 kW/year (from three stirrers at 7.5kW each).
Since the operators now needed just two tanks, they could save money on water consumption, thanks to not having to make five batches in advance in order to keep the same speed in the preparation area as the packaging line was producing.
There are other environmental benefits of switching to continuous production. If you have a greenfield installation, reducing the number of tanks, pipes and other equipment required also means you can reduce the amount of steel required and reduce the footprint and building size required. From a holistic point of view, that means lower consumption of natural resources to make those tanks and equipment, and less energy required to heat or cool a smaller building.
As if these benefits were not enough in themselves, there are also other savings to be made with continuous liquid blending. The juice producer in question could save more than €140,000 over the first five years from reduced cleaning, energy and water use – and that’s without even beginning to calculate the savings from reduced product losses and better raw material utilization.