GEA opens lab to test powder filling systems for food and dairy industry

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

GEA opens lab to test powder filling systems for food and dairy

Related tags Milk

GEA has opened an in-house test laboratory at its facility in Hamilton, New Zealand, to test powder filling systems for the food and dairy industry (for infant formulas, coffee, and sports drinks for example), for flowability, bulk density and particle size distribution.

With this information GEA engineers can advise customers about the design of technology including the wall angle of a filling hopper and discharge diameter of a vessel and measure the accuracy of vacuum filling container for packs or cans.

Former tests could not predict how poweder would flow

Chris Singleton, engineering manager, GEA, told DairyReporter, until now, working out how any given powder would behave was something of a ‘black science’.

We have used external labs in the past, but the turn-round was slow and expensive​,” he said.

Having our own lab means we can get accurate quantifiable numbers quickly and relatively cheaply and use them in the design process​.”

In the past, tests focused on characteristics such as particle size and density but this meant engineers could not predict how the powder would flow or how it would react to fluidization and compaction on a production line.

GEA to size and shape vessels for customers

The lab equipment measures seven characteristics of any given powder and enables engineers to design systems to suit each individual product.

GEA will also size and shape vessels for customers to avoid problems with product transport or clogging during discharge.

The laboratory will allow staff to design powder packaging systems based on scientifically obtained data.

The potential benefits to customers are huge​,” added Singleton.

For example, during a recent upgrade to an infant formula can filling line, GEA’s engineers used data from the laboratory to make modifications to improve the accuracy of filling from +/- 5 g to +/- 1.5 g.

This represented a huge saving and the customer recovered the investment within a few months of implementation.

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