Staying competitive in process manufacturing requires even the fittest of companies to be agile and dynamic. The complexities of manufacturing have compounded over the last decade as economic metrics have been expanded to account for global shifts and quickly changing trends. Production facilities that were once expansive and centralized have now been reorganized, adjusting to smaller volumes and utilizing regional production sites. Cost reductions and environmental stewardship initiatives cross paths as production reclaims revenue sources in forgotten waste streams.
For this reason mobile production, or modular pre-processing, is becoming increasingly vital to all major process driven industries and range from oil and gas, chemical, and energy, to food processing and pharmaceutical. One way to overcome the challenge of processing new raw materials in uncertain operating environments is to mix or pre-process at the source rather than trucking feedstock directly from the sourced location. Mixing material at the source can reduce transportation and processing costs, and improve chemical volume and quality through mixing or pre-processing.
Mining natural resources is oftentimes conducted for extended periods in remote areas. The transportation and storage of the necessary chemicals for extraction increases operating costs and reduces profit margins due to lack of infrastructure and utilities. Even in ideal conditions, transporting sensitive chemicals in their fluid state can negatively affect the necessary viscosity or other properties. When a natural resources customer came to Hapman with this problem, Hapman engineers developed an innovative solution that allowed the customer to boost their operating efficiency, and decrease costs using a modular, mobile production system.
The chemicals the customer used in their process were trucked to the remote work site in a premixed liquid state within large plastic totes. This was problematic for several reasons. Storing and transporting the chemicals in totes made them susceptible to viscosity degradation, which negatively impacted process efficiency. Plus, these polymeric compounds can react adversely in the presence of UV light, oxidation, temperature fluctuations, and contamination from bacteria or other compounds. Stabilizers can be added to slow down breakdown of the polymer’s chemical bonds, but they increase the total investment of the final product and can also add to contamination.
Another drawback of the totes was the fluid weight of these chemicals increased both transportation and labor costs. Large numbers of flatbed trucks hauling these totes were required to maintain uninterrupted operation.
Hapman engineers developed an innovative approach – transport the chemicals in their stable dry state, and mix them on-site as needed with available water. This solution promised to reduce the amount of chemicals needed, decrease transportation and labor costs, maintain the necessary viscosity of the chemicals used, and make the overall operations more efficient.
Creating a homogeneous blend of dry and wet ingredients to specific ratios is a challenge for many industries, even within controlled plant environments. Accomplishing a similar task in the field required a different tactic. Hapman engineers took an unconventional approach and rigged a 40-foot flatbed trailer with a fully-functional customized mobile mixing delivery system designed to easily go wherever it was needed.
The cornerstone of this mobile mixing system is Hapman’s Solidquid™ educator technology, which precisely measures and adds dry chemicals at an accuracy of 0.5%. The vortex action of the Solidquid effectively achieves a thorough blending of fluids and powders. The controls for this application required a unique loss and weight algorithm, designed by Hapman Engineers. The loss and weight feeding system achieved the tight mixing tolerances required for this application.
Transport of the dry chemicals into the process was accomplished using the Helix® flexible screw conveyor to move chemical powder from the bulk bag unloader and into the mixing process. All moving parts in the new mixing system were hydraulically driven. A bag-house and storage bin were also included.
On-board pumps provided sufficient flow and pressure to the eductor (see image to right), and was fed by Hapman’s PosiPortion™ Feeder. Specifically programmed controls automated the process and precisely measured delivery of the chemical solution. The eductor system proved ideal for this application, having been successfully used for pre mixing and wetting fine powders, granular solids, drilling muds, and semi-solids in other industries.
Hapman’s mobile mixing system provided a capability that no other company currently has – the ability to mix dry chemicals at the job site as needed. In addition to this benefit, it also:
The mobile mixing system also provided the added capability of weighing the dry chemical material and measuring an accurate amount of powder, then providing valuable usage reports for the field services customers. The fully automated system produced a more concentrated delivery of the chemical mixture compared to the previous system, and was an overall cost-effective improvement in efficiency.