Automated Batch Processing System for a New Detergent Product

On a compressed two-month timeline and with a limited budget, EPIC designed an automated batch processing system for a new laundry detergent line.It resulted in a first-to-market, highly competitive product. The skids fit the client’s small factory footprint and narrow doorways while arriving pre-wired and ready for utility hook-up, resulting in immediate on-site use.

Epic

Project Summary

  • Industry: Consumer Products
  • Division: Process Systems
  • Application: Batch Mixing and Blending

System Features

  • Laundry detergent product line with formula, packaging changes
  • Raw material pre-mix skid and full blending system
  • Process and packaging integrations included
  • Wonderware HMI and Controllogix PLC integrations

Engineering Challenges

  • Compressed timeline to beat competitors to market
  • Limited floor space and doorway clearance for skid and installation
  • Management of direct-hire mechanical, thermal, and electrical craftspeople
  • Manufacturing environment on a limited budget, without expansion

Project Impact

  • Client first to market with new, competitive product
  • Two-month timeline from first purchase order to project completion
  • Independent manufacturing environment; added systems without expansion
  • Automated blending skid for product accuracy and consistency

The Epic Solution

EPIC built and assembled a modular blending system on time and within budget in our state-of-the-art fabrication shop, while successfully keeping a new laundry detergent product confidential.

From the first purchase order to commission, the entire system was completed in two months, and the client was first to market with a new, competitive product.

Both skids were designed to fit into very small factory footprints and narrow doorways within the client’s manufacturing facility. They were delivered pre-wired and ready for utility hook-up.

Piping organization was simplified on the blending skid, with raw material connection points attached to the skid, at the same point, for easy maintenance and change-out.

The main batch manufacturing process skid pipes in raw materials from 14 different sources. t was installed upstream of the mix tank. EPIC programmed a series of valves, pumps, and mixers to follow a batch sequence and mix the product.

The raw materials pre-mix skid provided two powdered fragrances and one dye to the blending skid. Two totes were permanently mounted to the top of the modular skid. Totes containing raw perfume materials were delivered to the facility and then stacked on top of the permanent totes.

The perfumes were gravity-fed into the bottom tote and directly fed through piping to the mixing skid. The bottom half of the skid contained a system for acquiring dye from a 55-gallon drum, diluting it with glycol, and piping it to the mixing skid.

The piping system connected the raw materials from the pre-existing areas to a new production area. EPIC completed heat tracing, loading calculations, and electrical calculations for the entire system.

The blending system was linked to the packaging area. EPIC integrated the packaging equipment to ensure a high level of communication and data acquisition for the in-plant OEE system. The line also featured truck unloading and ingredient delivery systems.

EPIC programmed a batching control system to fully manage the blending system. This integrated system metered ingredients based on the client’s unique formulation. As ingredients were added into the mix tank, flow meters measured the exact amount of ingredients.

The weight of the tank was monitored with a weight scale to confirm that the change in tank weight matched the ingredient amounts that the flow meter measured. These fail-safe methods ensured accurate mixing.

The client required a second flow meter of a different measuring technology to be installed in the system. The two flow meters needed to measure the same amount of flow, within a client-specified percentage, to ensure accuracy.

A weight scale and pump on the raw materials skid metered the dye and powdered raw materials for the blending skid. The main control panel was located on the blending skid, and it communicated with a junction box on the raw materials skid. A Wonderware HMI located in the control room connected with a Controllogix PLC controller.

A third modular skid was added at the end of the project to bring a process in-house to the customer’s manufacturing facility. This skid allowed a powdered ingredient raw material to be added to the blending system. It clearly separated the new detergent process from the liquid mixing operations within the manufacturing plant.

A new 10,000-gallon tank was added to the existing raw materials tank farm to further clarify this split. A hoist lifted supersacks to the second floor, where they gravity-drained into a tank.

Another product was added to liquidate the raw powder, which was constantly agitated during liquidation. The fluid was pumped through piping to the mixing skid. Filters refined the product quality and reduced clumping, successfully creating a superior laundry detergent that the client brought to market before any competitors.

Process Systems

Machine Vision

Robotics

Industrial Automation