Plants can reduce the waste of expensive hygienic manufacturing materials by using equipment that offers powerful product-recovery capabilities.
by Paul Cardon
October 25, 2017

Manufacturers of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics use components and make products that are among the most expensive in the world.

Significant and immediate cost savings can be achieved by improving the volume of premium end-products and costly materials that are recovered from transfer lines. Given the value at hand, any potential for increased retention and recovery is worthy of exploration.

Product waste is always the enemy of profitability, and even more so when the products have high cost. More than $120 billion of product goes to waste worldwide every year, according to the McKinsey Quarterly Food Waste Alliance. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has also studied the issue and found that 40 percent of food in the United States is lost during handling and production.

hygienic manufacturingImage 1. Hygienic manufacturing operations in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries offer many areas where product recovery can be optimized with the use of eccentric disc pump technology. (Courtesy of PSG)

In hygienic manufacturing, some waste is inevitable, but there is a direct path to significant product recovery. Recovering raw ingredients or intermediate/finished products that remain in the suction or discharge fluid-transfer lines after production runs or between changeovers, a company can eliminate a substantial amount of waste. When transfer pumps lack the capability to adequately clear production lines, there is a snowball effect on costs. Some companies flush the lines and accept product losses, but there are often ancillary costs, including:

  • increased water use for cleaning the lines
  • additional cleaning and treatment chemicals to clean the lines
  • chemicals to sanitize the lines
  • energy to facilitate the cleaning process
  • labor costs/hours to perform longer cleaning operations
  • disposal costs of used water, chemicals and product
  • water treatment costs and associated chemicals

Some plants use product recovery hardware, but a so-called “pigging” system, or other line-clearing solution, comes at a considerable cost premium and adds unnecessary complexity to the pumping operation. The pigging system might provide excellent product-recovery rates, but it also must be purchased, installed, operated, maintained and eventually replaced.

A More Capable Pump

There is a better option. With the right transfer pump installed, manufacturers can recover the bulk of their product from the line and achieve considerable savings with every production cycle. This capability to clear lines varies among pump types. The lobe, external circumferential piston (ECP), twin screw, centrifugal, hose and progressive cavity-style pumps widely used in hygienic manufacturing lack the capability to adequately strip suction or discharge lines.

eccentric disc pumpsImage 2: Eccentric disc pumps can be used in hygienic manufacturing in two ways, first as a normal process pump, then as a way to increase product recovery. The result is less waste of critical raw materials and expensive finished products, resulting in a healthier bottom line.

An eccentric disc pump, on the other hand, can clear a minimum of 70 percent of product from lines on its own power—without the aid of any additional component systems that would increase capital expenditure, system complexity and maintenance requirements.

The cost-savings potential is enormous. One manufacturer of eccentric disc pumps for hygienic manufacturing estimates that some companies can realize annual savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or greater if eccentric disc pump technology is incorporated into a hygienic manufacturing system.

As the example suggests, the potential savings are entirely dependent on the application. The following are examples where the use of eccentric disc pumps have resulted in documented six-figure savings per pumped line:

  • A high-end cosmetic manufacturer recovered enough silicone-based product to pay back the cost of the pump within days.
  • Two global yogurt companies with very long transfer lines recorded increases of 70 percent to 80 percent in product-recovery rates and quickly deployed an additional pump.
  • An oral-care company upgraded from centrifugal pumps and quickly achieved the product-recovery targets for its low-viscosity products.
  • A pharmaceutical company saved on its process for filling oral medicines, which involves frequent product changeovers.
  • A large baked-goods company more effectively recovered the filling used in pastries and prevented the blockage of injection nozzles.

Design Advantage

Strong product recovery is possible with eccentric disc pumps because of their unique design. Each pump employs a disc that moves on an eccentric plane within a circular channel, creating the capability for non-pulsing, low-slip operation with high volumetric consistency. The operation of eccentric disc pumps allows flow rates to vary minimally despite changes in viscosity, temperature, system back-pressure and even component wear.