As the result of an intensive 3-year design programme, Winkworth, the UK’s leading designer and manufacturer of industrial mixing and blending machinery, says that it has produced the world’s most hygienic kneader mixer extruder machine to suit the most demanding application requirements.
Built to match a client’s exacting needs: high-powered, totally reliable and in a compact design which could be fully integrated within ancillary equipment, the machine also had to be cross-contamination free. For this particular application, a high level of automation was also demanded, covering full control of the mixing process, precision and control of the blade and screw speeds, full integration with inlet systems, mixing durations, vacuum levels and duration, temperature control, zone management during mixing and, critically, during discharge.
“Machine cleaning requirements vary from machine to machine and applications – some permit wet washing and CIP (cleaning in place) approaches, other strictly forbid liquids,” said Winkworth’s managing director, Grant Jamieson. “Designing and building a machine as complex as this was in itself a challenge, but with the product to be mixed being ‘sticky’ by definition, this added a further challenge as this was to be a strictly ‘no liquids’ cleaning procedure.”
Despite the need for all product contact services to be cleaned between formulas, downtime due to cleaning had to be minimised. To meet this requirement, the machine has been designed to the latest pharmaceutical GMP standards – more stringent, though similar to EHEDG – which supports a simple yet effective independent verification of ‘clean’. Providing access to allow ergonomic safe cleaning behaviours was critical, the human factors of reach, touch, line of sight, lifting, pulling, pressing and trip hazards – all were considered. To facilitate these requirements, the machine is fully retractable, thus allowing kneader blade access. Simultaneously the extruder screw is retracted, allowing full 360° access to the screw itself. A pivoting, hinged, non-drive end door to the mixer chamber, allows full access from the end of the mixer chamber and full access to the inside surfaces. Closure after cleaning and inspection is an automated reversal of opening, allowing for a fast and verifiable process that promotes high levels of productivity.
All of this operation is fully automated using electrics, hydraulics, pneumatics and optical control sensors with safety guards, incorporating proximity sensors, fitted to verify safety systems are intact.
“I’m very proud of the quality demonstrated throughout this project and the strategic relationship we have developed with our client. The result is a super efficient machine, having an unprecedented level of automation that is capable of being cleaned in a fraction of the cleaning times of similar machines, thereby providing total confidence in the efficacy of the hygiene process. Incorporating several innovative design features, the machine is certainly state-of-the art and one of three supplied so far. It will provide our client with a totally dependable solution for decades to come,” concluded Jamieson.