Many of us are familiar with sizing vacuum pumps based on throughput, process pressure requirements, chamber size, pump down times, conductance and leakage. In a lot of cases, humidity becomes an afterthought and unexpected things happen. Some of these unexpected things we learn to live with, like emulsified oil. In other cases, the unexpected things prevent the pump from performing the job it was intended for.
Vacuum can be used in many ways for the meat processing and packaging industry. From mixing ingredients to evisceration (removing organs, excess fat, bones, etc.), to the washing/preparation of the meats or even in the packaging of the meat itself, vacuum is critical to the industry.
When Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) set a goal to dramatically reduce water consumption at its Widmer Brothers Brewery in Portland, Oregon, it focused its efforts on its bottling process – and implemented a solution engineered by Atlas Copco that saves 5,000 gallons of water per day. In addition, it saves the craft brewer $39,000 per year, thanks to the elimination of water treatment costs and reduced energy use.
DMK Deutsches Milchkontor GmbH produces sliced cheese and Mozzarella at its production facility in Georgsmarienhütte, Germany. The various types of sliced cheese and Mozzarella blocks are vacuum packed after processing in several packaging lines. The vacuum supply for the packaging machines is provided by a Busch centralized vacuum system, which supplies both the packaging lines and the thermoforming machines.
Choosing the right vacuum supply can lead to huge cost savings in plastics processing. Mar-Bal, Incorporated has undertaken a critical review of the existing vacuum supply for injection molding when moving to a new plant and has collaborated with Busch, LLC to find a solution that will achieve savings in energy, maintenance and production times.
This article will focus on optimizing the demand-side so the centralized “supply-side” (the vacuum pumps and controls) can then run at a lower energy and maintenance cost. First, I will start with a simplified model of a vacuum pump system demands. See Figure 1 for a one-pump/one-demand simplified system. See Figures 2-6 for some typical controlled and uncontrolled demands. The symbol with the three lines is an orifice, a hole essentially. I am defining three types of system demands adding up to the total demand on the vacuum pump.
Electric utility incentive programs encourage industrial and manufacturing companies to reduce power consumption by paying part of the cost to upgrade to more efficient equipment. It’s a great concept, but many customers only go after low-hanging fruit, such as upgrades for lighting or air compressors, and go no further.
Energy for the entire Ernst Sutter AG company – and consequently the Suttero Bazenheid premises as well – is generated via hydropower. In addition, around 75% of the energy from refrigeration is also used to generate hot water. When creating vacuum for packaging, Suttero Bazenheid relies on a centralized vacuum system from Busch. This is significantly more energy-efficient in operation than decentralized vacuum supplies on individual packaging machines. As a result, Ernst Sutter AG has created a production plant that corresponds to the latest standards, both from a technical and ecological perspective.
Meat packaging plants have long used vacuum pumps as a way to remove air and reduce the amount of oxygen in their products’ plastic packaging. Vacuum packaging extends the meat’s shelf life while protecting its flavor and exposure to outside elements, such as freezer burn and bacteria.
The integrated process that leads to perfectly finished components begins in the plant’s new material store. “One way we’re staying at the leading edge in our market is by researching the latest innovations and choosing the best machine for each process,” Legere explains. “Our new material store, operational in June 2017, is one example. It combines a physical data base of sheet goods with a robotic arm that handles materials and presents them to a cutting machine for processing. After a few minutes, a finished part emerges. All of this occurs with zero human interaction.”
If you want to understand vacuum systems, you have to get out of the ruts, and slog through the mud and bounce over the rocks a bit. If you’re a “compressed air person”, think outside the box for a few pages with me. I am going to borrow some terms from the “pump people” to explain how vacuum systems are similar, yet different from compressed air systems. There are several ruts to get out of. Remembering what changes and what doesn’t, what is controlled, and how to design systems for optimal energy consumption.