Most Colloid Mill manufacturers simply sell Mills off the shelf as is. Most sales staff for these off-the-shelf Mills only know information about the product itself and not much about the surrounding components and instrumentation that might come into play once the unit is on the factory floor. Sonic Corp not only manufactures and sells its Colloid Mills, we specialize in understanding upstream and downstream processes that allow us to customize our systems to meet the needs of the factory floor.
Colloid Mills | Design Matters
First let’s start with design. Sonic Corp prides itself on paying close attention to detail. From the external appearance to the internal functionality, Sonic looks very closely at these things to get it right. Using high alloys like anodized aluminum and titaniums, our Mills are made well. We use 3 double row, greased-for-life bearings that add tremendous stability to the operation of our Colloid Mills.
What’s important here and the thrust of this message, however, is customization and knowledge of complete process. Our many years in and out of factory settings has allowed us to better understand needs and requirements that extend beyond the immediate equipment. With this comes the ability to assist in creating a better solution. Too many equipment suppliers lack this knowledge and you as a customer end up dealing with sales staff who can’t answer all your questions or make you aware of the various issues that may present themselves over time.
The keys to customization are manufacturing and design capabilities coupled with the background experience to be able to adequately assess a prospect’s unique needs. Too often sales people don’t ask enough questions. Read this article by Richard Schroder at Anova Consulting. I’ll admit I tend to be a bit excessive in my queries to various prospects but I find they often appreciate this. The goal is to dig. Dig for information about the factory processes, the labor involved, etc. Too many sales people in the world of Colloid Mills and related equipment want to quickly sell the off-the-shelf item and move on to the next sale. Because we not only sell Mills but Homogenizer systems, In-Line Blending systems and Customized Process Skids and systems, we have learned over the past 50 years how to ask the right questions and dig out good answers.
In one case, a customer was frustrated because their process material was very viscous and rather sticky, an adhesive paste. This material was problematic for both a single mechanical seal as well as double flush seal. A flush seal would seem an obvious choice as it isolates the process material from the seal installed in a seal chamber. For this a special seal lubricant is required. The pressurization of the seal chamber was critical because the thick paste imparted a lot of pressure on the Mill head at discharge as material was pumped downstream. They weren’t too happy with the design of the standard pressure pots used from ages ago that recirculate and pressurize the seal chambers of pumps and Mills. In fact, these devices tend to look like leftover components from World War II tanks:
Sonic worked with the customer to design and build a better seal recirculation and pressurization solution that worked for them.
We then integrated this into the Colloid Mill, fabricating a carted system complete with the Mill, seal pump (located on the bottom of the cart), seal vessel, pressure modulating valve and automated controls. The idea to this solution was that, rather than simply use a heavy-walled pressurizable pot, we used a lighter vessel and generated pressure across the seal chamber by use of a higher pressure rated pump than normally used for recirculation of the lubricating oil. We then installed a modulating valve (could be manual or automated) that would pressurize the chamber by virtue of the back pressure generated by the PD pump recirculating the seal fluid. We were able to come up with this because we asked enough proper questions and we had enough practical experience and knowledge about pumps and pump technology.
This Colloid Mill system by Sonic Corp was completely designed and fabricated in house from the Mill itself to the welded framework and PLC cabinet. Pump selection for feeding the seal chamber was done by knowledgable Sonic sales personnel. We specialize in other customizations where feed pumps at the Mill inlet is required, tanks and feed vessels, automation, ingredient injection systems that feed the Mill inlet, etc.