Parallel processing

Matcon Ltd
Saturday, 06 May, 2006

Monexco International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Monde Nissin, the Philippines market leader for the supply of biscuits, noodles and snack foods, has recently awarded Matcon a substantial contract for the supply of a new seasonings plant.

The new plant, being built in Thailand with the backing of the Thai Board of Investment, is expected to be completed during 2006.

The plant is designed to receive various powdered raw materials, formulate the ingredients into a batch and mix in a high-speed mixer. The mixed product is then taken to the finished packaging hall for packing into sachets. These sachets are included in the company's consumer-ready bowl of noodles - simply add water and mix in the seasoning contents of the sachet to flavour.

Due to the required flexibility of the plant and the need to change formulations regularly, the complete process is based on Matcon's Cone Valve system. Using Matcon's Vari-stroke technology, minor and major ingredients are formulated into an intermediate bulk container (IBC). The Vari-stroke technology, which is an extension of Matcon's Cone Valve system, enables fast and accurate direct dosing of products from silos or IBCs, without the need for secondary feeders (secondary feeders would be slow and would not allow rapid changeover between formulations without extensive cleaning to prevent cross contamination between ingredients).

Ingredient quantities vary from a few grams to over 100 kilograms, with accuracies of 1%. The plant has been designed with a throughput rate of seven batches per hour, each batch potentially being a different formulation to the previous batch.

In order to achieve the most cost-effective and ergonomic factory layout Matcon was consulted at the building design stage. This approach, which involved the architect, the company's production managers and Matcon's process design team, meant that all disciplines necessary for the successful design and operation of the finished plant had an input to the overall design and to minimising the associated cost.

Matcon has single source responsibility for the supply of all the process equipment, with the exception of the mixers and the packers, which have been chosen and ordered separately by Monexco.

All equipment is designed and manufactured to the highest GMP standards to allow rapid and thorough cleandown. The plant is designed to operate 24 hours a day and, when complete, will be one of the most advanced and flexible seasonings manufacturing plants in the world.

In recent years, a number of manufacturers such as Monexco have turned to IBC batch production as an alternative to fixed conveying and formulation equipment. This method of production allows each discrete operation to run at maximum efficiency and ensures that down time is kept to a minimum.

This technique is known as 'Parallel Processing' and is the key to efficient manufacture.

Properly applied, the Matcon Cone Valve can overcome all the typical flow problems - bridging, blockages, segregation, flushing and core-flow. The pulsing action of the Cone Valve 'conditions' material as it flows by, so that it is easier to be handled by the following process.

The Vari-Stroke system develops this concept by allowing the Cone Valve pulse height to be continuously adjusted throughout the discharge process. This, when used with Matcon's control software, provides fast, efficient and accurate dosing of even difficult-to-handle materials.

The Vari-Stroke is the heart of Matcon's Flexi-Batch technology, the next-generation fully-automated formulation system. This technology enables an infinite number of ingredients to be quickly and accurately formulated while taking into account the individual discharge characteristics of each material.

The technology offers cost savings by increasing production efficiency while also meeting relevant health and safety regulations.

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