Sanitarium Ensures Beverages Made in Dust Free Environment

Sanitarium Health Food Company has enhanced and enlarged a major component of the food grade OH&S system at its beverage manufacturing plant in Berkeley Vale, NSW.

The facility, where Sanitarium produces its popular soy-based products So-Good and Up & Go, recently commissioned a third production line that adds twice the manufacturing capacity of its existing two lines. Because the manufacturing process involves rehydrating powder-form base ingredients, the company also installed a filtration system to eliminate any opportunity for these powders to spill onto floors or be released in the breathable atmosphere.

Mr Peter Van Der Meer, maintenance coordinator of the Beverage & Meals section at the Berkeley Vale facility, says the batching and mixing processes are high volume and required high capacity equipment to perform around the clock.

“We often process up to 1,000,000 litres per week of these two brands (Up & Go and So Good) and at various stages of processing there was a potential for powdered product to escape into the working environment. The fine powders are created when handling and batching field oats (a consistency like sugar), isolate (soy powder) and various minerals important to the recipe, which arrive in powder and granule forms. Our commitment is to keep our plant spotless at all stages – batching, mixing, sterilisation, filling and homogenising – to maintain breathable air for employees at a very high standard and to ensure our site is extremely clean."

To ensure this happens, Sanitarium consulted Donaldson Torit-DCE who fitted a Dalamatic DU 452-K7 dust extraction system with 4kW fan and 55 litre dust collection bin. The dust collection point inside the mixing station is connected by food grade stainless steel ducting to the dust collector, while anti static oleophobic polyester bags make sure moisture in the humid process does not coagulate and block the dust bag. As a further safeguard, a rear explosion relief has been fitted to the dust collector.

The production line sees product move through a system of batch tanks, mixing tanks, sterilisation, filling stations and homogenisation. Much of the bulk input takes place at the mixing station, where 150-180 tonnes of raw material is fed into it daily. In this liquefier section, an existing system was upgraded by Donaldson Torit-DCE to work more efficiently and logically.

Here, 20kg bags of product are deposited into mixing bins for the final process. The previous system was less efficient as extraction could only occur when the bin lids were open and dust had to travel around the open lids to reach the extraction hood, which was positioned above the mixer.

Torit-DCE changed the configuration so that extraction occurs as the recipe is mixed when the bin lids are closed. Now, negative pressure, created by the dust collector fan, captures any air borne food dusts in the mixer, which are then taken through the ducting back to the Dalamatic dust collector. To facilitate continuous 24-hour production from Mondays to Thursdays (a constant for the last six years), a change-over collector bag system is operated.

“Out of the million litres we process each week, about 75% of this is handled by the lines on which Torit DCE set up its dust extraction system,” said Mr Van Der Meer. “The system keeps our working environment clean for food production and safe for employees. A regular shutdown every Friday is when we clean out the food processing system, thus ensuring our business is clinical in all areas.”

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