Free flow: Stable Micro Systems debuts rig to measure flow behavior

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Stable Micro Systems has debuted a new rig to measure the flowability of powder ingredients. Pic: ©GettyImages/LightFieldStudios
Stable Micro Systems has debuted a new rig to measure the flowability of powder ingredients. Pic: ©GettyImages/LightFieldStudios
Stable Micro Systems has developed a new rig to enable food manufacturers to measure the flowability of compacted powders, such as flour, cocoa powder and starch.

The Powder Vertical Shear Rig has been designed to provide accurate measurements of flow behavior to increase operational efficiency and improve quality standards along the production line. 

Stable Micro Systems - vertical powder shear rig 1

Powders often compact under their own weight during storage, causing blockages in the hopper and restricting flow. This can result in incorrect dosage, wasted product or downtime.

The device imitates a filled hopper, testing the flow of a powder from a packed state.

During the test, a specific mass of powder is transferred to the main body of the rig and compressed to a chosen force to create a ‘cake’ of powder. A door below the powder is then released to reveal an outlet and a probe, slightly smaller than this hole, and the powder is then pushed through, which reveals how easily the powder flows from a packed state.

This helps determine the correct hopper outlet size and indicates if any changes are needed to the powder formulation.

Challenging ingredient

The likelihood of blockages forming depends on both the properties of the powder and the conditions, like temperature and humidity, which can be mimicked with the use of Stable Micro Systems’ thermal cabinets.

According to Jo Smewing, applications manager at Stable Micro Systems, powders on food production lines can be challenging, as discharging them from storage can be unreliable.

“Understanding a powder’s flow behavior is key to meeting operational demands and minimising production downtime.”

The Powder Vertical Shear Rig is an extension of Stable Micro Systems’ wider powder testing solutions offered by the Powder Flow Analyser and requires minimal operator handling, helping to avoid disturbances of the sample or its environments between test stages.

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