For drinks, liquids and food manufacturers the world over, production efficiency is key. Off-the-shelf drying systems have their place; an instant solution to an immediate requirement, but not at the expense of potential issues. Therefore, ensuring that you have the right custom drying solution, which can be integrated efficiently into the production line without compromise, is vital.
Typically large one-off CapEx investments, production lines have to run without glitches. That’s why specifying all aspects accurately is critical, including drying systems for bottles, cartons, cans, aseptic packaging, or pouches.
Get the specifications wrong, and you could be storing up problems for the future. You could also miss out on significant cost and energy savings, making operations less efficient or competitive. For end-users of drinks, liquids or food production line drying systems, poor performing solutions can be hugely detrimental to profit, efficiency and the environment.
Order a drying solution that’s not correctly specified, and it might not be up to the job. On the flip side, if you opt for a solution that’s too large for your needs, the excess energy costs alone could be crippling.
So, how do you avoid falling foul of system drying procurement failure? And how can you be certain of getting a system that’s suited for the job and at the right price too?
Thankfully, integrated solutions such as Can Tunnel drying systems or Jet Plates are available, and they can be ordered to match your production rate requirement. These custom drying systems provide precise solutions to precise needs, ensuring optimal efficiency and performance alongside significant lifetime unit cost savings. Stephen Thurgood-Perry, Air Control Industries Export Manager, explains how to ensure you get the right one for your production line.
Getting the right drying solution
Within the drinks and food sector, drying systems are necessary for a whole host of reasons. These include drying cans, bottles, cartons, aseptic packaging or pouches ready for date coding or packaging, sleeve labelling, roll-fed labelling and crown drying. In addition it also encompass safety sealing, for hygiene purposes to avoid the growth of bacteria, or in readiness for shrink wrapping or cardboard packaging.
Integrated solutions vary in a number of ways. Having a solution that is the right size, providing the correct power, noise level, degree of efficiency, and the appropriate water removal percentage is critical. That goes from a can or bottle drying system – where low-pressure air is utilised– to a surface drying solution to enable date coding. Both uses a small centrifugal blower to provide the requisite pressure.
Hitting target water residue
The challenge for any drying solution is that while removing the first 90% of water residue is relatively easy, the last 10% is harder – particularly at speed. So, if you need to achieve a high level of dryness for the next stage of the production line or packaging, at a specific production line speed, getting your specification right is crucial.
Factors to consider
In all cases, the first factor to consider is the required volume of cans, bottles, cartons, or pouches that need to be processed and dried per hour. Secondly comes the moisture removal level required for the next stage of the production line and the available space on the production line for the drying system.
Noise control requirements are also an important factor, as are details of the product to be dried itself, particularly if the bottle, can, carton or pouch is an unusual shape or design. Here, your production engineer, quality engineer, or site manager needs to provide detailed information. For instance, container dimensions, its temperature at the point of drying, ambient production line temperature, required noise profile, how dry the item needs to be for the next stage of the production line, and finally, why it needs to be dried.
Design & Testing:
To ensure that you are getting what you need, your drying system provider should work with you to develop diagrams and renders to show how the solution will work. Above all, they should also provide proof of performance. Here’s where a test rig that replicates your production line’s exact conditions, including product temperature and ambient conditions, should be utilised to provide drying performance analysis alongside footage evidencing efficiency.
This is standard practice for ACI where bottles, cans, cartons and pouches are made as wet as possible before running them through the test rig drying system at the required speed/volume. After that, moisture levels are taken to show the percentage of drying efficiency achieved, providing peace of mind and certainty. ACI’s solutions frequently achieve a 98%+ dryness level, and all come with a guarantee to provide certainty.
What else should you look for in a manufacturer?
As with any good manufacturer, you should check that your custom drying solution provider has both ISO 9001:2015 quality management system and ISO 14001:2015 in place. That, alongside a full performance guarantee and the CE Mark, should give you assurance in quality and customer satisfaction.
In short, by following these guidelines, you should not only be able to specify a system drying solution that meets your needs, but you should also be ready to plan ahead so that your custom drying solution is capable of being upscaled as you grow, giving you the edge.
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