A pet care products manufacturer was trying to improve their process for making pet shampoo. Two powdered ingredients needed to be mixed into water. However their process failed to produce a consistent shampoo product in a timely manner.
The manufacturer had been using a top entry agitator in a batch tank. The first step in the process was to fill the water in the tank and then start the agitator. Next, while the agitator was running, they would dump the two powders, approximately 300 lbs of Veegum (a stabilizer and thickener) and 500 lbs of oat flour, into the top of the tank. The third step was to wait for the powders to be blended well enough for the product to be ready for packaging.
The manufacturer noted most of the processing time, about 2 hours, was spent waiting for the powders to properly mix. The reason for this is because Veegum and oat flour are both difficult to blend smoothly and tend to clump. To get the right consistency, the processor could either mix the product for the lengthy 2 hours and/or filter the product after the process, wasting valuable ingredients.
After seeing Fristam’s Powder Mixer at a trade show and hearing how it incorporates the uniform powder induction of a Fristam FZX liquid-ring pump and the thorough blending of the Fristam FS shear blender to quickly produce consistent product mixes, the manufacturer contacted Fristam with their application. The challenge was to reduce their mix time while ensuring their product’s texture.
Fristam was confident they could help and recommended their model 20-53 Powder Mixer with optional vibrator, lid, and variable frequency drive (VFD) on the shear blender unit. The funnel vibrator was specified to ensure the oat flour powder flowed evenly since it has a tendency to stick to the sides of the funnel. Additionally, the processor requested the unit have a lid to cover the funnel when not in use to prevent foreign material from falling in to it. Lastly, a VFD was recommended on the FS shear blender as it is a typical offering for shampoos, lotions and gels, to allow for more shear on the initial blending pass and less shear during re-circulation.
A trial was arranged at the processor’s plant, with a Fristam rep and distributor attending, during which the Fristam Powder Mixer recirculated the product from the bottom of the batch tank and back up to the top while the powders were slowly added to the water stream via the Powder Mixer’s funnel. This process ensured that the powders were fully dispersed before they ever got into the batch tank. By slowly inducting the powders into the fluid stream, they were able to control the ratio of liquid to solid entering the shear blender. Once inside the shear blender the powders were subjected to intense turbulence and were fully dispersed on that first pass. As this stream enters the batch tank, the powders are already hydrating and thickening the product.
Using the Fristam Powder Mixer eliminated the extra time the agitator used to run in order to disperse the powders and they were able to get the total batch time to less than 1 hour, thus saving the customer at least 2 hours per batch. Considering the processor runs 3-4 batches per day, 5-days a week, they are now seeing a savings of 30-40 hours a week.
The processor was so happy with the results that they ordered a new unit within a few weeks of returning the trial unit, noting they “had to have it!”