REAL-time particle size analysers enable particulate process to be optimised. Applications include sticky wet concentrated slurries, liquid emulsions and dry particulate streams.
By dramatically increasing the frequency of measurement, automated on-line analysis delivers a reliable data stream for efficient process control.
The benefits are:
1. High return on investment.
Rugged and robust, these on-line instruments provide reliable 24/7 operation with minimal maintenance. Automatic real-time measurement improves plant capacity and product quality with payback on investment typically in 6 to 12 months.
2. Reduced energy.
Milling operations are highly energy intensive. Energy consumption rises exponentially as particle size decreases. Under-milling often results in QC failure, while over-grinding consumes excessive energy. Real-time particle size analysis brings tighter mill control to achieve in-spec product with minimal energy use.
3. Real time control.
Particle size is a performance defining parameter for many particulate products, from pharmaceuticals to metal powders. Real-time particle size measurement is a logical step as on-line systems can measure up to four particle size distributions per second for tracking fast processes.
Comparing real-time measurement with periodic off-line analysis is like comparing video with snapshots. With continuous measurement it is possible to observe the result of every process variable which is highly valuable when troubleshooting.
Real-time data is very sensitive to changes in product particle size enabling tight process control and consistent quality.
5. Process optimisation.
Understanding which process parameters affect particle size using off-line analysis takes time. However with real-time measurement the affect of changing operating scenarios can be evaluated in minutes rather than hours. Correlations between cause and effect quickly become both clear and quantifiable greatly accelerating the optimisation procedure.
6. Smarter process development.
Knowledge gathering is a primary function of process development. Real-time measurement accelerates the knowledge acquisition process by detecting and solving problems at an early stage.
7. Faster product changeover.
During start up or product changeover the aim is to get to the new set point as rapidly as the dynamics of the plant will allow. Progression towards the set point can be monitored with real-time analysis so that immediate action can be taken to prevent overshoot. There is no need to wait for a lab result to see whether it is safe to switch to the in-specification collection silo.
8. Instant upset detection.
Off-line analysis generally occurs every hour and it takes 30 minutes for the results to be available. An upset can therefore go undetected for 90 mins which is long enough to ruin a batch and spoil a silo of in-specification product. With real-time particle size measurement upsets are detected instantaneously.
9. Greater sensitivity to product quality.
Off line particle size analyses are often an averaged result from composite samples. This approach can lack the sensitivity required to detect out of spec samples until they are significantly out of spec. Real-time data is very sensitive to changes in product particle size enabling tight process control and consistent quality.
10. Reducing operator risk.
Sample extraction can present a health and safety risk, especially where process materials are highly volatile and/or toxic. On-line systems avoid the risks to operators and vastly improve representative sampling by measuring a very high proportion of the process stream.
[Bryn McDonagh is Technical Support Manager with ATA Scientific.]