Case Study: ABB drive provides the vital ingredient for food mixing plant
7 Oct 2023
Condiments and soups mixed at Baxters Food Group’s Colchester mixing plant are all now back on the menu following the speedy installation of a new drive ...
A sudden failure on a 750 kilo batch sampling machine used for mixing sauce and dressing recipes almost caused a sticky situation at condiment manufacturer Baxters, threatening potential downtime and lost production. The machine, which is used for mixing small batches for approval, is a vital step in fine-tuning recipes before they move to the mass production stage. Use of the machine is very carefully scheduled, often very far in advance, making any downtime potentially highly disruptive.
The mixer requires a high degree of precision control, as over- or under-agitation of the product can ruin its quality, while recipes must be followed carefully to ensure that products achieve the desired colour, consistency and taste for maximum customer satisfaction. An unexpected failure to a non-ABB drive used to control the machine’s 8.5 kW motor was discovered at the start of what was supposed to be a busy morning shift of batch tests. Because the drive delivers the close control required for mixing the products, the machine cannot run without it in operation. Baxters’ senior engineer Trevor Goff contacted food & beverage drive specialists Gibbons for help.
Use of the machine is very carefully scheduled, often very far in advance, making any downtime potentially highly disruptive
Gibbons, were on-site within two hours witha suitable replacement ABB drive, installing and commissioning it by the afternoon. Further inspection of the failed drive later revealed that water ingress was the likely cause of failure. Once installed, Gibbons optimised the replacement drive to ensure that it was operating at maximum efficiency while delivering the speed range required, and provided training to Baxters’ engineering team in its operation.
The speedy replacement was a key benefit, said Goff: “We do something in the region of 28,000-30,000 bottles per day, so any downtime can be extremely detrimental to our operations. Normally we schedule trials up to a fortnight in advance so that we can have everything ready for when the customer turns up to taste their products.
“When they arrived on-site they already had the new drive ready to go, and were very efficient and methodical in installing it.”
And once installed, it was essential that the switch was seamless, added Goff, who confirmed: “It does everything the old drive does, plus it’s gone into a very tight cabinet, and it’s very user-friendly. We’ve had no issues with it at all since the installation.”