The Problem: Inefficient, Multi-step Process

One of our clients recently came to Sonic with a blending and homogenizing application. The client was taking inputs from totes and bulk storage and weighing them into 55-gallon drums. Once the correct ratio was achieved the material was mixed using a propeller mixer inside the 55-gallon drum. After mixing was completed the finished material was then loaded into totes and fed into a packaging line.

At Sonic, we immediately recognized an opportunity for this client to reduce time, labor and possible weighing errors with in-line processing via a multiple stream approach. By eliminating the labor intensive middle portion of their process the client was able to reduce human error and streamline processing by moving to in-line blending.

The Solution: Multi-Input Inline Blending

A five stream in-line blending skid was proposed. This system allowed the client to hard pipe the five inputs from bulk storage and totes directly to the homogenizer/in-line blending skid. Positive displacement pumps and mass flow meters on the skid handled the ratio control and could be changed to accommodate the two different recipes needed downstream. The output from the skid was hard piped into a day tank that fed the packaging line. In the day tank high and low sensors were installed so that the system would cycle on/off as needed.

Here is a representation of the steps involved in the two processes:

Original operation

Multi-step blending process

Homogenizer – Multiple Feed In-line Blending

An improved, efficient multi-step blending process

As a result, the labor involved in the new system was choosing one of two possible recipes on the HMI panel and monitoring the input supplies to make sure enough inputs were available. Safeguards were installed on the inlet of the homogenizer/blending skid to protect the operation in case one of the inputs ran dry. The system would automatically shut down and signal the operator to inspect and replenish inputs. Thereby ensuring no out-of-spec material would be accidentally created.

Sonic used in-house 3-D design engineers to develop a proposed system to meet the clients homogenizer and blending needs. The client had input into the design throughout the process and final 3-D drawings we used for approval of the design prior to system build.

3D rendering of an in-line blending skid

The client plant manager who championed this project recognized an opportunity to improve their process. Sonic Corporation was able to turn this opportunity into real savings, process improvement and improved product consistency. The investment the client made in these improvements is expected to have a 12-18 month return. The plant manager is viewed with favor throughout the organization and is already setting sites on additional process improvements utilizing Sonic Corporation technology and know-how.

Below is an image of the system as built. Sonic employees take great pride in system quality from welds and polished stainless steel to custom programing and process functionality. Download a free Sonolator homogenizer catalog to find out more about our capabilities.

Manufactured blending skid based on 3D rendering design