The viscous nature of confectionary products like chocolate, caramel, fondant, thick cream, syrups and liquid sugar make them extremely challenging for pumping operations. Choosing the right pump is essential to avoid the costs associated with pump downtime and repair or replacement. An incorrectly specified pump can lead to frequent breakdowns, downtime and expensive delays in production.
Many confectionary manufacturers recently have been opting for positive displacement pump technology rather than gear pumps because the gentle and low shear product handling capability of pumps such as MasoSine models from Watson-Marlow provide important benefits when transferring or moving viscous confectionary. With a sinusoidal rotor that delivers a smooth, wave-like action, the single rotor design offers very low pulsation, while large pumping chambers help preserve and maintain product integrity.
Confectionary substances are pumped from the inlet port to the higher-pressure discharge port. The rotor is powered by just a single motor shaft, unlike rotary lobe pumps that have multiple shafts. The gate prevents any liquid flowing back from the discharge side to the lower-pressure suction side of the pump. Since the chamber volume does not change, the system is well suited to pumping liquids containing soft solids or viscous media, such as chocolate spread. The pump’s ability to operate under high vacuum virtually eliminates shaft seal problems.
Correct pump choice protects product integrity
Product integrity is critical to confectionary manufacturers, and the wrong pump choice can damage the product, which ultimately affects customer relationships and retailer contracts. Certain pump types are simply not fit for working with confectionary products. Sinusoidal positive displacement technology avoids damage caused by impellers, vanes, lobes or valves found on common alternative pump types. Factors that need to be considered include flow rate, system pressure, product abrasiveness, temperature, suction conditions and the size of any inclusions.
For example, at the UK-based Kinnerton Confectionery, a MasoSine positive displacement pump technology replaced a gear pump that was damaging product on an Easter egg production line. The company’s white chocolate Easter egg was designed to be mixed with dried raspberry. However, when the fruit first went through the mixer, it was squashed by the gear pump, producing decidedly pink chocolate Easter eggs. A MasoSine MR125 completely solved the problem, and even ensured that cookie pieces added later were undamaged.
A pump must also be able to handle solid additions like raisins, cookies or cereal without blocking and causing damage. When it works properly, there is a significant improvement in batch consistency, virtually eliminating wastage from spoiled end-product and raw ingredients.
Cleaning and maintenance
The MasoSine pump is easy to maintain and clean, which is extremely important in an industry bound by stringent certification and standards. Hygiene is critical to confectionary processes, where correct pump choice will help prevent bacterial growth, batch contamination and ultimately, wasted product. Pumps need to be capable of being cleaned-in-place (CIP), in-line and at full velocity. One solution is the new Stainless Steel Power Frame which is now available for the SPS range of pumps. This upgrades the range to 3A certification for CIP, but at no additional cost. The message is clear: Confectionary plants should only buy pumps which meet strict levels of certification such as USDA food handling, plus FDA, and NSF Class VI standards.
Ease of cleaning and maintenance is all part of the total cost of ownership (TCO) equation now familiar across many industries. Rather than falling into the trap of ‘cheapest is best’ that tends to prevail in tough economic trading conditions, it is important for those working in the confectionary arena to evaluate overall product performance, reliability and suitability for the application. There is little point in buying a cheap product if it ultimately costs more in terms of maintenance, installation or integration into a machine or system.
MasoSine pumps have full steam-in-place and clean-in-place compliance and can be stripped down in less than 10 minutes. Such factors also contribute to calculating the return on investment figure required for almost all capital expenditure requests.
The ability to deliver low shear, low maintenance pump solutions for confectionary production lines and ensure accurate metering of additives, flavorings and colorants delivers significant process efficiencies over the lifetime of the equipment.
For example, consider caramel manufacturing, which is especially challenging for most pump technologies because of the viscosity issues. To ensure sugars are not caramelized and color changed, gentle pumping action is a must. This process may also require a pulse-free flow that can make other parts of the process more efficient, such as flow metering or heat exchangers. At the Kinnertonplant, the Masosine SPS2 high flow pump with capacity up to 17.6 GPM and pressures up to 217 Psiis well matched for viscous applications such as caramel, gelatin and glucose, ultimately providing a very fast payback on the investment.
Reliability a necessity to safeguard production and protect quality
Pump reliability in the confectionary industry is extremely important, since pump failure leads to the complete halt of a machine or even an entire production line. Financial consequences can be severe if a replacement part does not arrive in a timely manner.
Because of this need to ensure continuous throughput and maximize productivity, the Kessko sweets and chocolate factory in Bonn, Germany will only use suppliers capable of offering rapid response to potential downtime situations. Kessko is a long-time user of MasoSine SPS pumps, largely because these advanced units can run untouched for many years without any need to replace parts. And when wearing parts such as liners and gates do eventually need changing, Kessko says the spares are both low cost and easy to substitute. One of the critical applications for MasoSine SPS technology at Kessko is on a high volume filling line, where the equivalent of two tons of hazelnut spread is pumped every hour. Downtime due to the slow arrival of spare parts is simply not an option.
Among the other benefits of sine pump technology identified by Kessko is the absence of any foam build-up. Difficult liquids are drawn up with powerful suction force, allowing them to flow evenly and quickly without any foam generation.
The bottom line is that confectionary plants, concerned with safeguarding their reputations by maintaining product integrity, make strict demands on their process equipment. The only pumps fit for this purpose are those able to demonstrate value for money, low TCO, reliability, ease of maintenance, and conformity to recognized industry standards. In the past few years, this requirement is increasingly being met by sine pump technology.