When Compere Systems of Birkenhead – a specialist in control systems integration and the supply of turnkey projects encompassing industrial automation, palletising solutions, air conveyors and drum unloading – received an enquiry from the Rugby plant of Britvic, it realised a bespoke solution was the only way forward.
The original project specification sought to unload 45 gallon drums of fruit juice concentrate to holding tanks, but in small batches of six-off.
However, this suddenly increased to a batch size of 80 drums. In addition, the company had a target to fit inside a 75 minute cycle for a batch to be made up. Floor space for drum unloading was also too small for standard solutions.
Needing an alternative to drum tipping, Compere Systems turned to Watson-Marlow for a pumping solution. Both companies therefore began working together to develop a bespoke solution based on MasoSine SPS technology.
The custom rig uses four 5.5kW MasoSine SPS pumps which are piped to four suction lances mounted on a pneumatic cylinder. This allows the simultaneous unloading of four 45 gallon drums in just two minutes.
The basic concept centres on a semi-circle configuration feeding six stations. At each station it is possible to datum a pallet holding the four 45 gallon drums.
Graham Fenney, managing director of Compere Systems said: “The unloading head pivots in the centre of the semi-circle and can rotate round to each position. This allows the operator to bring in a pallet, position it, remove the drum lids, prepare the inner plastic and insert the lance – all in the two minutes it takes for the previous pallet of four drums to unload. It’s a very efficient load and unload process.”
The pumps are mounted on a mezzanine in the middle of the semi-circle approximately 1m off the ground. They are suitable for all industrial and sanitary applications involving high pressures (up to 15 bar). Capacity is up to 91.2m3/hr, while a gentle, low shear action makes them well suited to the safe pumping of highly viscous materials – at Britvic the concentrate can sometimes be presented as a form of ‘frozen slurry’ in the worst case. At the same time, the single rotor design helps preserve and maintain product integrity and eliminates the need for fragile timing gears associated with rotary lobe pumps. The other inherent advantage that comes with the single rotor design is, ‘one shaft, one seal’, resulting in lower maintenance and life ownership costs.
The four MasoSine SPS pumps in the bespoke drum unloading system have allowed Britvic to unload the drums of fruit juice concentrate – four at a time – in just two minutes as required. So impressed is the soft drinks manufacturer that it has recently enquired about taking further rigs.