When a customer asked one company to add the capability to agglomerate powders, a South Dakota contract processor answered the call. Such was the case for Precision Blending International, whose business consisted entirely of blending and milling dairy powders for food and dairy products. That is, until 2010, when a customer asked the company to produce an agglomerated blend of finely powdered raw material to improve its processability in food formulations.

“Agglomeration was new for us, requiring a third process line,” says Dan Carlbom, owner and president.

The opportunity meant more business for the Spearfish, S.D.-based company but also the challenge of fitting a new line that includes equipment to moisturize, agglomerate and dry the material in a plant of 27,000 ft2 (2,508 m2). The process line — details of which Carlbom declines to disclose for competitive reasons — involved a fixed length of machinery, so the drying equipment had to fit within the space available at the end of the line.

After investigating his dryer options, Carlbom decided that a fluid bed processing system would work most efficiently and considered two configurations of equipment. The first was a conventional rectangular fluid bed dryer, but for the PBI application, the rectangular unit would have taken up a large amount of space due to its shape, structural elements and weight. The second choice was a circular fluid bed processing system. Although either design could dry the resized protein powders efficiently, the circular type — with a 60" diameter — took up less floor space than a rectangular fluid bed system. The compact footprint convinced Carlbom to opt for a circular design, which he purchased from Kason Corp., Milburn, N.J. “The unit fit where I wanted to put it,” Carlbom says.

According to the fluid bed system maker, because the circular fluid bed processor is inherently more rigid that rectangular designs, its materials of construction can be of down-gauged. In addition, internal cross-braces are eliminated and gyratory motors are downsized. Also, fewer weld seams and the absence of corners and internal cross-braces facilitate faster cleaning and changeover times.

If needed for the application, says Kason, the circular fluid bed processor can be integrated with a heater, blower, ductwork, spray line, and control panel. (PBI opted for this assembly.) The entire system can be installed on a caster-mounted frame, allowing in-plant mobility and rapid setup.

To learn more about circular fluid bed processors from Kason Corp., call (973) 467-8140 or visit www.kason.com

To learn more about the Kason system, see the web exclusive "Circular Fluid Bed Processor Moisturizes, Agglomerates, Dries."