Nutraceuticals like vitamin preparations, mineral nutrients or dairy products, mostly contain more than 50 different products. The mix homogeneity must be of high quality. The Lödige Ploughshare® Mixer FKM can be successfully used for this type of application.
Nutraceuticals are currently enjoying great popularity. The product variety in the market is quite large: it ranges from vitamins, mineral nutrients and dairy preparations to sports nutrition as well as protein and dietary beverages. Most of these products are available in a solid or semi-solid form such as tablets, capsules, granules or instant powder shakes.
At first sight, the dosage forms seem to be very different, but the diverse nutraceuticals do have a common characteristic. They are composed of many single ingredients. Such mixes contain very often 50 or more constituents and their structure and proportion can vary a lot.
Ploughshare® Mixer FKM
In spite of this diversity, the production requires mixes of excellent homogeneity. The horizontal Lödige Ploughshare® Mixer FKM fulfils the complex requirements of this technical process in an optimum way. The process is mainly run in batch operation. Machines have been supplied in sizes between 300 l for small scale production and 8000 l for larger productions depending on the production quantity required and the specific application.
The Ploughshare® Mixer FKM operates according to the fluid bed principle introduced to mixing technology by Lödige. Special mixing elements arranged on a horizontal shaft in a particular manner generate a three-dimensional movement, the so-called mechanically generated fluid bed. As a result of this intensive but also gentle movement, small and micro-ingredients in solid or liquid form can be extremely quickly and homogeneously added into a batch.
The Mixer also fulfils all Hygienic Design requirements which are essential in the production of nutraceuticals. Lödige is a member of the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) and develops innovative concepts for mixing systems in accordance with these guidelines. This basically means for the Lödige Ploughshare® Mixer that it has an easy-to-clean design, completely made of stainless steel, product contact parts at least Ra<0,8µm, welded mixing elements to the shaft with optimised shovel clearance to the wall, low-maintenance air purge shaft seals, large inspection/cleaning doors, enlarged discharge door(s) to minimise the product quantity remaining in the drum after discharge, drive and bearing protected by stainless steel and, if necessary, a (semi) automated wet cleaning (Washing in Place WIP/Cleaning in Place CIP).
In principle and in the case of batch processes, the ingredients are added one after the other or they are separately pre-weighed and added together into the mixer. Scale-up tests prior to designing the machine define the optimal mixing time and the requested homogeneity. After these parameters have been reached, the batch is discharged in a bunker, container or big bags installed downstream.
The product feeding is usually carried out at the top of the mixer. In the case of small-sized mixers that are mainly manually operated, the product feeding will be done via a large manual door. Automated production units are equipped with silos, weighing systems and other appropriate dosing systems installed upstream that enable product feeding into one or several inlets on top of the mixer. The discharge is made at the bottom of the mixer, generally in the middle. The mixing elements are designed in such a way that the mix is moved to the middle of the drum while the discharge door is open.
Typically, mixing times for dry recipes are approximately one to three minutes. There is an insignificant variation of mixing times between the mixers of different sizes mentioned, an advantage of the Lödige Ploughshare® Mixer. The batch size is very often the result of a combination of several process steps. Fragile or sensitive are usually added towards the end, and if deemed necessary, the batch can be processed using different shaft speeds.
Most nutraceuticals only contain a small number of liquid ingredients. The liquid quantity and the type of liquid feeding will have a substantial influence on the total mixing time. Lödige is able to offer different liquid addition systems. The most suitable system is selected in accordance with the requirements of each application and recipe.