Minor Ingredient Automated from an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC)

Tote System Edit Leadin

A large food company made recipe changes that required multiple new ingredients. These ingredients were being delivered in Intermediate Bulk Containers, also called IBCs or totes.

Initially, the customer hooked up pumps to the totes and transferred the ingredients to the batch, as needed. Several issues arose. Without close monitoring, the totes would run out of product and ruin the batch. To keep this from occurring, the customer changed out the tote when the fluid level reached 10 percent, leaving nearly 30 gallons of product in the tote as waste.

Another issue arose when outside temperature began to get cooler. In the summer months, the totes would arrive at or above 70°F, but as fall and winter approached, these same ingredient tote arrived at below 60°F. At these cold temperatures, many of the products would not flow properly into the pumps, causing production delays. Additionally, the pumps the customer originally installed created excessive pulsation, which caused the batch measurement to be inconsistent.

The customer was referred to Central States Industrial for help. Through testing samples of the products, CSI was able to determine a good temperature and viscosity profile. Alfa Laval SRU series pumps were used, which allowed for gentle handling of the product with low pulsation that did not affect the metering devices. These pump were clean-in-place (CIP) capable, which eliminated any disassembly or handling concerns.

The pumps were paired with CSI's tote unloading system using an integral heated reservoir tank and level switch. This allowed the customer to preheat the ingredient, on the fly, rather than waiting for the entire tote to warm to the correct temperature. The reservoir allowed the tote to fully drain and run without batch interruption, as empty totes were traded for full ones. With the use of the level switch, the operators no longer had to watch the tote to be sure it didn't run empty, because the level switch triggered an alarm when it was time to replace an empty tote.

Ingredient addition failure halted instantly, and the customer was able to see immediate savings. They no longer had to worry about losing valuable product and production time. There was a 10 percent decrease in the customer's minor ingredient costs, due to elimination of unused product remaining in the tote. This equated to a return on investment (ROI) in just under six months.