Matcon IBC has provided its IBC mixing technologies for the plant upgrade of a baby food manufacturing company in Spain.
Hero Spain, part of the Hero Group has a significant market share of the baby food and nutritional specialities market.
The plant upgrade aimed to meet increased market demand, create a lean manufacturing environment as well as ensure compliance with demanding hygiene requirements and ATEX regulations.
The Alcantarilla plant produces large volumes of cereals and baby foods. Although the volume was increasing, there was a simultaneous increase in the diversity of products being manufactured at the plant, creating a burden on the front-end of the plant, which had to prepare all the ingredients for the final product.
Pre-mixing was an established operating method at the plant that was found effective in mixing ingredients of varying composition.
While effective, pre-mixing was also a slow and laborious manual process that required substantial clean-up time between batches.
Matcon’s new IBC solution eliminates the mixer cleaning process completely. Instead of washing down a fixed installed mixing vessel, the IBC product contact hopper can be removed from the mixing cage and transferred to the next process stage.
The mixer is then available to mix the next batch immediately.
Conventional mixing involves filling a static mixing chamber with the ingredients and mixing them using the rotating baffles or by tumbling the chamber.
IBC mixing involves a mobile mixing vessel that is filled off-line and inserted into the mixer cage on demand, removing it after 10-15 minutes of mixing.
The mixer is ready to accept the next IBC with the same or new formula of ingredients.
The mixed batch is transferred directly to the packing area, enabling parallel activities to be accomplished and creating a lean environment.
Matcon has recently developed a new range of hybrid IBC mixers that tumbles the ingredients during the mixing process and also uses a small agitator in the IBC lid to disperse lumps.
Key features of Matcon’s IBC Solution for Hero
- IBC mixing opens up new methods of working before and after the mixing process
- Allows pre-mixing small additives such as minerals and vitamins stored in smaller IBCs into larger and more manageable batches by dispensing the required quantity automatically
- Batch can be taken for further processing after mixing or sent to the packing area
- IBC mixing enables flexible production that is capable of responding quickly to changing demands
Key results for Hero from the plant upgrade
- Mixing capacity has doubled without any increase in manpower or space utilisation
- Zoning of the production area has been upgraded to Zone 8, minimising the risk of cross contamination or exposure to the powder
- ATEX compliance has been achieved
- Expected to achieve up to 30% total reduction of product in stock
- Reduction in average production lead times from one week to less than a day