A major US-based cereal manufacturer planned to expand their production line of cocoa covered puff grain cereal by simply replicating the equipment it had already been using for 10 years. When they contacted the equipment supplier who sold them the original system, they learned of a new and better way to make their cereal coating.
Originally, they had been making their cocoa coating by pouring 300 lbs of cocoa into a base fluid of water, sugar and corn syrup. They would then mix it with a top entry high shear mixer. While this method would mix enough cocoa to cover the cereal, the process was not very efficient or effective. The high viscosity and high density of the sugar solution made it difficult for the old equipment to recirculate the solution and to mix the cocoa in, since cocoa can be difficult to disperse. Without adequate mixing, the cocoa could not be fully dispersed and fell out of the solution onto the bottom of the tank, becoming waste. To overcome this, they would run the agitator in the tank for an extended amount of time which was significantly impacting the capacity of the production line.
When it came time to expand, their equipment supplier told them about Fristam’s line of mixers and blenders. After reviewing the application, Fristam was confident their Powder Mixer could quickly and thoroughly disperse the cocoa as its design promotes even blending of wet and dry ingredients into a fluid stream. The Powder Mixer uses an FZX Liquid Ring pump to pull the powder into the fluid and an FS Shear Blender blends the product thoroughly.
Because the Fristam Powder Mixer comes in seven sizes with numerous options, processors can customize them to meet their needs exactly. For this application, Fristam recommended their 25-54 Powder Mixer with the following options: extended funnel height for increased volume, a funnel vibrator to prevent the cocoa from sticking to the funnel, a funnel lid for protection when not in use, and double seals on the pump and blender to handle the sticky product.
An in-plant trial was scheduled to prove out the process and work out the sequence of powder addition to get the best results. As expected, the Powder Mixer was able to fully disperse and dissolve the cocoa so well that they were able to cut their batch times in half. It had no problem inducting the cocoa into the slurry stream, even though the viscosity was quite high.
Going into the project, the mixing tanks were the customer’s bottleneck. With the old method, the mixing tanks were occupied for a long time mixing the ingredients. Once they installed the Powder Mixer, they were able to mix the ingredients much more quickly and run more batches per tank. With the mixing done sooner, the tanks were empty sooner and they found they could use the existing tanks to meet their new increased production requirements. No additional tanks needed to be purchased for the increased production. Not only did this save them money on tanks, it saved them space in the plant. In the end the cereal producer only needed to buy three new Powder Mixers, one for each of their existing batch tanks. The mixers have been in operation since 2010 and the customer is very pleased.