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How to conduct a successful mixing trial

May 22, 2013

Laboratory testing is the key part of choosing equipment. The only way to know which will work best in production is to test them in a lab. Many times the plant can rent equipment that can be experimented with. This is a good way to test equipment because the lab can use their own products to check results. There are some important things to do to have a successful trial.

The main thing you will want to do is to replicate the actual process your industry uses. If this is not cost effective then try using samples for the test that are only about one tenth of the actual amount used. Try different methods as much as is possible. Try adding ingredients in different orders and use varying speeds on the equipment. If heating is generally used, switch to a high shear mixer that is not dependent on heat. It is possible heat will not even be required.

Make sure to take good notes on the process. Record every variable. Write down mixing time, changes in temperature, flow rate and mixer speed. Time, heating, and cooling can each change production time significantly. Take careful inventory of every step that is necessary in the production and record any results. For instance be sure to record dusting if it occurs as well as how easy it is to deliver the raw materials into the feed ports of the mixer. After mixing, record cleaning process and time so it can be compared with present processes.

Compare all the results of the rented equipment to present production. Are there any side effects? Was there any response to heat or increased shear? Was the application an effective use of time, money and materials especially compared to your present operations? Is it possible that you could use fewer materials if the mixing conditions are improved?

Make sure that all the processes and details are discussed with those in your company who are involved in decision making and production. Also discuss the test with the company that supplies your equipment. Always remember safety issues, including any ventilation that needs to be determined prior to the lab test. Also be prepared with other items that may be needed, such as labels, shipping documents, containers to hold samples and cleaning supplies.

To make the lab test a success it will take very thorough planning before you begin. Make sure there are plenty available resources such as mixing personnel, mixing equipment and equipment for analysis. Keep the process systematic and safe.

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