How Automatic Valve Manifolds Improve Industrial Liquid Processing
Flow panels are commonly used in hygienic, sanitary and process applications for routing and transferring liquid products and Clean-in-Place (CIP) solutions within a processing system.
Hoses are often used in conjunction with flow panels, and while flow panels and hoses can be suitable for processing facilities with a small number of connections, they can pose serious issues for facilities with a large number of connections.
This article looks at the implications of flow panels and hoses in liquid processing. It also looks at why an increasing number of companies that process liquids are using automatic piggable valve manifolds such as the HPS Automatrix to transfer liquids efficiently, safely, reliability and automatically from multiple sources to multiple destinations.
Changing Customer Needs and Preferences
In recent years, changing consumer tastes, needs and preferences have transformed the processing industries such as food, beverage, personal care, household goods, paint manufacture and many others.
From plant-based offerings, protein-rich food and beverages and limited-edition products to natural ingredients, sustainable sourcing and exciting flavours and colours, manufacturers are constantly innovating and introducing new products to meet customer requirements.
And as processing facilities adapt to meet ever-changing customer needs, the number of connections and routes required increases.
The Problem with Using Flow Panels
If a manufacturing plant has an excessive amount of piping leading up to the flow panels and away from them, this increases the likelihood of mistakes happening.
After all, the more connections on a flow panel, the greater the risk of unintentionally mixing or sending liquid product and cleaning solution down the wrong line, resulting in cross-contamination. If cross-contamination occurs, it can have a detrimental impact on the quality of finished products.
Opportunity for Human Error
The risk of transferring product to the wrong destination is largely due to human error. Flow panels rely on manual selection procedures, which means there’s a greater chance of costly, human-caused errors.
And when there’s multiple batches, constant recipe changes and frequent changeovers to manage, making the wrong connection is an easy mistake to make.
However, if an operator makes a wrong connection, it can be an extremely costly mistake. For instance, if orange paint accidentally gets routed to a blue paint line, the whole production batch will most likely be ruined resulting in high costs, wasted product, and wasted time.
LEAKAGE DUE TO POOR CONNECTIONS
As well as there being a potential of transferring product to the wrong destination, there’s also a risk of leakage due to poor connections.
Not only does this translate to wasted product, but it results in plant downtime. That’s because plant workers will have to spend valuable time cleaning up the product. This is time that could be spent producing the product.
And if there’s a big leakage and large amounts of product and spillage to remove, the clean-up costs can be staggering.
the problem with hoses
If a manufacturing plant has too many hoses, it can become a “snake pit” where there’s a disorganised mess of hoses. This can cause major problems and can have a negative impact on plant efficiency, safety, and product quality.
Having a disorganised, cluttered environment with an excessive amount of hoses presents a potential safety hazard that may lead to slips, trips, falls or worse.
The financial impact of a slip and fall accident can be significant, ranging from minor inconvenience to massive liability and bad PR. What’s more, if an operator gets injured, manufacturers may face a loss of productivity when an employee is off the clock.
Another major problem with having a snake pit of hoses is that it increases the likelihood of employees stepping on the hoses. If this happens, hoses may get damaged and they can be costly to replace.
Hoses are Difficult to Clean
In many processing plants, only certain hoses can be used for specific products. Therefore, to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination and ensure hygiene, hoses need to be cleaned regularly.
It’s imperative that hoses are rigorously cleaned on a regular basis. Not only does cleaning ensure the health and safety of the consumer, but it’s also crucial for delivering high-quality and consistent products.
Unfortunately, most hoses cannot easily be pigged, and so cannot reap the major benefits of liquid product recovery (pigging).
The cleaning process involves the hoses being taken to a cleaning area where a vast amount of cleaning materials is required to clean them adequately.
This can be extremely time-consuming, labour-intensive, inefficient, and wasteful.
WHY HAVING TOO MANY HOSES IS INEFFICIENT
As well as being unsafe, having a disorganised environment with too many hoses is inefficient. It involves operators manually connecting the appropriate hose.
And as companies grow their operations and introduce new product variations, manually dragging hoses from tank to tank can be an extremely time-consuming, cumbersome, and inefficient process.
With customer needs constantly evolving, it is imperative that manufacturers have the agility and flexibility to change from one product variant to another. Using manual processes using hoses and flow panels can severely limit the ability to do this effectively and can reduce an organisations competitive edge.
COMPANIES THAT PROCESS LIQUIDS TURNING TO AUTOMATIC VALVE MANIFOLDS
Many companies that process liquids are implementing automated valve manifolds such as the Automatrix. HPS Automatrix technology provides production flexibility and an efficient, fully automated source and destination selection from any product source to any destination. The Automatrix eliminates the problems commonly associated with using hoses and flow panels in liquid processing.
The streamlined design of the Automatrix reduces the amount of pipework required, which means space requirements are similarly reduced considerably as well as the number of hoses. This ensures maximum safety and lowers the risks of accidents.
Because the Automatrix is fully automated, it cuts out almost all manual selection procedures which means there’s minimal opportunity for human error. This lowers the chances of costly connection errors. It also increases productivity and efficiency while speeding up changeover times, lowering costs, reducing product losses, maximising product quality, and minimising contamination and cross-contamination risks.
USED WITH A WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS
From wine transfer and bottling, to paint and coatings, HPS Automatrix technology is used in a wide range of industries (here are some of the key industries benefiting from pigging and liquid transfer solutions).
Although the initial investment is higher than that of hoses and flow panels, the operational costs are significantly lower. What’s more, with an Automatrix solution, you’ll be getting ongoing savings and return on investment (ROI) throughout the whole lifespan of the equipment.
HPS Automatrix technology incorporates liquid product recovery with specialist, minimal dead-space valves. This enables the Automatrix to recover nearly all of the liquid product, therefore increasing yields, cutting waste, minimising water consumption, lowering cleaning chemicals while saving time, effort, and labour.
CAN MEET EVER-CHANGING CUSTOMER REQUIREMENTS
The Automatrix is easy to install, operate and maintain. Designed around the specific requirements of each customer, it’s available in a wide range of sizes, configurations and formats.
With full flexibility, HPS Automatrix technology can meet ever-changing customer requirements. When designed horizontally, it can accommodate significant expansion in sources and destinations to meet with any future needs. When designed as a vertical configuration, only the height restricts more lines being added.
For companies with less budget available, another effective option to reduce the amount of dedicated lines, get rid of hoses, and prevent the costly misrouting of product is to use HPS Rotomatrix technology.
The HPS Rotomatrix is a cost-effective, piggable manual manifold. It’s in wide use in multi-product facilities and hygienic, sanitary and process applications including wine, bottling plants, paint, coatings, cosmetics and many more.
The Rotomatrix uses a compact set of rotating arms which connect different sources to different destinations. It also uses mechanical couplings, interlocks and path selection feedback, so the chances of sending product to the wrong destination is minimal. If an arm hasn’t been connected correctly by the operator, the Rotomatrix will not allow the transfer of product.
It’s also fully piggable from source to destination, so it will increase your yields, cut waste, reduce changeover times, lower cross-contamination risks, save water, and cleaning chemicals plus much more.
Because the Rotomatrix removes the number of hoses, it improves safety, increases process efficiency and makes your layout a lot tidier and space-efficient.
contact the experts
HPS are the world’s leading experts in industrial, hygienic (sanitary) and process pigging systems and liquid transfer technology. We’ve implemented HPS Automatrix and Rotomatrix technology in a wide range of companies throughout the world.
Interested in implementing HPS technology? Find out about how HPS will work with you – our tried and tested process to ensure the success of your pigging, product recovery or liquid transfer project.
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