Clint’s in charge of crumb control

A hitherto automation-defying process has finally been brought up to date with the development of a Mitsubishi Electric Solution.
Clint Johnson, of Control Freaks, has developed a machine for producing biscuit crumbs, breakfast cereal and snack foods – replacing a labour intensive manual process with one that, he says, guarantees consistent results.
“The basic process is to mix ingredients into uniform pellets and dry them,” explains Johnson. “Sounds easy enough, but the devil is in the detail. Getting a consistent mix was difficult, and the liquid content needed to form pellets tended to cause the entire mix to clag up into one stodgy amorphous lump.”
Johnson’s system includes two horizontal spiral blade mixers, which run backwards and forwards at different speeds to achieve a thorough mix.
“There is quite an art to the speed profiles we use, as each product requires a unique pattern of fast and slow, forward and backwards,” he says. “We’ve stored those profiles as recipes on a Mitsubishi FX3U PLC which controls a number of variable speed drives on the mixer axes.”
Feedback loops read the current in the motors to gauge the mix consistency, and the finished mix flows through a series of holding hoppers and graters to form the desired pellet size. From here a dosing mechanism drops the pellets onto a conveyor and a series of levelling systems even it out into a consistent layer before it moves into a dryer to form the final dry product.

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