In-Line Blending Skid Expands Product Portfolio at Minimal Cost

With limited budget and floor space, EPIC designed an efficient solution for doubling the variety of fragrances mixed in its facility. A pre-engineered, field-proven in-line blending skid expanded the product portfolio with minimal equipment additions.

Epic

Project Summary

  • Industry: Consumer Products
  • Division: Process Systems
  • Application: Inline Blending

System Features

  • Pre-mix blending skid to safely mix flammable base formula
  • Multiple ingredient trees continuously inline blend fragrances to the base product integrated with the existing production line
  • Control logic to automate mix sequencing to  prevent fragrance mix-ups
  • Reduce waste with a product-to-product washout re-blend system

Engineering Challenges

  • Product expansion without large, expensive batch mixing systems
  • Accurate, homogeneous blending and mixing within individual flow streams
  • Frequent product changeovers and line startups and shutdowns
  • Reblending of scrap from washouts

Project Impact

  • In-line blending system delivered on schedule and within budget
  • Ingredient trees reduced capital costs and increased flexibility
  • More than 20 ingredients mixed per process line
  • Drastic waste reduction through metered re-blend system

The Epic Solution

EPIC designed and delivered an in-line blending skid design to mix two different products and more than 20 different fragrances on one process line.

This system greatly reduced capital costs for the client and increased the system’s flexibility, all while taking up less space.

The client’s existing fragrance mixing line was modified and expanded with EPIC’s in-line blending skid addition. The client had recently installed a new packaging line for the blending system and wanted to expand the overall capacity without extending the footprint of the line.

The skid started outside the building, where a pre-mix module in a Class 1, Div 2 area fabricated a base formula containing ethanol. The outside pre-mix blending skid fed the base formula into the building through pipes that connected to the in-line blending system.

This system used ingredient trees to mix various products on one small skid, eliminating the need for multiple storage tanks. Each ingredient tree included an on/off flow control valve that fed raw ingredients from the raw materials storage area into the product formula.

Fragrances were then fed from a perfume in-line blending system, allowing for JIT perfume mixing and reducing downtime. A back pressure control valve kept pressure on the tank, and logic in the control system prevented two fragrances from running at once.

Static mixers on the skid were used to properly mix the formula and achieve a homogeneous blend. A resurge tank with a recirculation pump ensured proper mix before filling, created a buffer between the blending and filling systems, and regulated flow to the filler. It achieved the latter by creating a reserve of product that continued flowing even as blend rates varied.

The product from the surge tank was pumped to the filler and added into bottles. The packaging and in-line blending skid were integrated together to ensure matched speeds and prevent product mix-up.

The skid utilized two small tanks, with one tank being filled with solution as the product was mixed. Simultaneously, the other tank was emptied and washed out to prepare for the next product in the queue.

A product-to-product washout system was used, with a spray ball cleaning the tanks. The washout water was drained into a pan and sent to the scrap tote. With more washout runs through the system, the new product was slowly metered into the mixing system.

The system’s automated controls matched the blend and fill rates, regulating pressure on the holding tank to level fluctuations and couple the blending and filling systems. When the blending of a product ended, any remaining product was pumped back into a re-blend tote. Past the pump for the packaging side, a pair of valves sent scrap material to the re-blend totes.

Ultimately, three to five percent of scrap was re-blended into appropriate product batches, saving material costs and maximizing efficiency.

Multiple re-blend totes were used because certain product ingredients cannot be mixed. For example, colors for re-blend must be similar (for example, orange, yellow, and red). Additionally, antibacterial formulas cannot be mixed with non-antibacterial products. The control logic for the system controlled the re-blend totes and tracked where the product profiles were sent, preventing accidental mixing of incompatible scrap material.

Process Systems

Machine Vision

Robotics

Industrial Automation