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How flow meters and controllers transform the production process

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When it comes to the finer points of food and beverage manufacturing, such as flow measurement and control, having the right pieces in place can make all the difference.

In the food industry there are a string of processes in which gas flows or liquid flows need to be measured or controlled for the best product outcome and to avoid potential issues along the way.

AMS, who specialise in instrumentation and calibration, knows all too well the importance of using flow meters and controllers in the manufacture of food and beverage products.

Over its 50-year existence the company has cultivated partnerships with companies such as calibration specialists Beamex, and flow measurement experts Bronkhorst.

AMS was one of the first overseas distributors for Beamex, a Finnish manufacturer of calibration solutions, one of which being the Beamex CENTRiCAL calibration bench.

Even though process instruments are often calibrated in the field with portable calibration equipment, there are circumstances when it is considered more effective and effecient to perform calibrations in a workshop.

Better accuracy can also be achieved when the calibration is performed in controlled conditions, using dedicated high-accuracy workshop calibration equipment.

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In the event of harsh or even dangerous field conditions, calibration in a well-designed workshop with equipment ready for use is ergonomic and practical. Workshop calibration can also compliment field calibration.

In terms of flow meters, AMS’ work with Bronkhorst is a good case study of what both companies offer the market.

Flow meters and flow controllers are also used in aeration processes for beverages or ice creams, and for dosing applications such as adding ingredients like flavourings, colourants, and aromas.

But besides food processing applications, flow control is also used in sterilisation processes of packaging.

There is a variation in confectionary available on the market and each brand has its own taste, texture, and appearance. As such, a flexible approach to flow control is necessary.

Erwin Broekman, area sales manager at Bronkhorst, visited Haas-Mondomix in the Netherlands to learn what he could from the machine building company, which specialises in equipment for the food industry.

With ultrasonic volume flow meters, Haas-Mondomix measures the number of additives, flavourings, and colourings that are added to the production process.

AMS supplies ultrasonic volume flow meters, such as the Ultrasonic Gas Flow Meter FC1223, to the Australian food and beverage industry after Bronkhorst extended its range.

“Our goal is to create a highly accurate, liquid independent line of flow meters meeting the highest hygienic standards to serve the needs of our customers,
especially for applications where low flow solutions are important,” said Erwin Eekelde, Bronkhorst product manager.

Some of the features that ultrasonic flow meters bring to the food and beverage industry include being fluid independent with a bult-in PID controller and continuous batch dosing.

For example, the FC1223 was developed and designed for flare gas and other associated gas flow measurement in areas where other ultrasonic volume flow meters had been having trouble.

Meanwhile, the FF1125 ultrasonic gas flow meter has been manufactured for use with sensitive gas metering applications in the production process.

Then there is also the Ultrasonic Gas Flow Meter FH1225, which takes some key benefits from two other meters – transit time and transit phase – which results in an improved turn-down ratio.

The meter is also unaffected by entrained liquids and clogging transducers with heavy hydrocarbons and paraffins.

Meanwhile, in the chocolate confectionery industry, there’s a high number of variations in flavours that makes liquid flow meters, in combination with a dosing pump, a suitable solution for dosing flavours and functional ingredients.

When combining the flow meter with a plunger pump, higher accuracy and repeatability can be achieved and this results in less waste of often expensive flavours and fragrances.

This way, manufacturers will get a consistent quality and fewer rejects, which will reduce raw material costs.

For ice cream, aeration is used in the production process because air makes up anywhere from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the total volume of ice cream.

It is crucial to have a stable inlet gas flow in the production process, with a consistent cream/air ratio. A stable gas flow can be achieved by using a mass flow controller.

Aeration is also used in the production of whipped cream.

For these kinds of applications, Hansa Industrie-Mixer has mixing machines and foam generators available.

Hansa Industrie-Mixer machines come with an ISO 9001 Certification, which sets out the criteria for quality management systems and have been manufactured in Germany for 40 years.

The company offers everything from basic foam mixers to more advanced and complete systems, making them an suitable for manufacturers of all sizes. The company also maintains research into the sector for continued innovation and development.

And while many advancements have been made in aeration technology, and by extension packaging technology, there are still hurdles that need to be overcome, such as food waste.

Globally, food is lost or wasted at different points in the supply chain but companies like AMS and Hansa Industrie-Mixer work continuously to strengthen the production and packaging processes.

To reduce spoilage of food and increase the shelf life, packaging needs to be sterilised, and this is the point where something like Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems come in the picture.

CEM technology was developed as an innovative Liquid Delivery System (LDS) that can be used for atmospheric or vacuum processes. This helps reduce the chances of spoilage on the supply chain.

Some of the key features of controlled evaporation mixing is its ability to accurately control gas and liquid mixture while also presenting a fast response time.

Controlled evaporation mixing also allows for flexible selection of gas and liquid ratios and can work at lower temperatures than conventional systems, presenting a solution to the flexibility needed in beverage and confectionary production.

On top of this, a CEM system can evaporate mixtures and even solids before being dissolved into solvents and vaporised successfully.

AMS can source the correct flow meters and controllers for almost any food and beverage production process.

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