Hoppers and chutes that suffer from sticking due to abrasive wear is a common problem that numerous human and animal food manufacturing, processing and packaging industries face. When working correctly, they allow businesses to carry out processes at a large scale, saving both time and money. However, when they begin to fail, the knock-on effects for the business can be massive.
An industrial supplier of ground and instant coffee approached us to discuss problems they were experiencing with their coated chutes and hoppers. Here is how we were able to help them address this costly issue.
The OEM coating on our customer's coffee bean hopper had started to fail, causing the beans and associated residue to stick to the hopper during processing. The non-stick coating that was on the hopper had been eroded by the continuous flow of coffee beans and this was leading to residue build-up and incorrect metering of the ground product. This was causing the production process to stop for costly and time-consuming cleaning.
It was also noted that new coated hoppers and chutes had to be purchased far too regularly to replace the ones that were worn out and had lost their non-stick properties. By utilising AFT’s problem-solving expertise, a single solution was found that addressed both these costly issues.
During scheduled maintenance shut down, the problematic hopper was taken out of service and was replaced with a brand new OEM hopper. The plan was to never purchase another OEM hopper, so by having two hoppers in rotation, one could be in use whilst the other is being refurbished.
When we received the hopper, we noticed that in addition to the failing coating, there was a degree of damage to the metalwork. After removing the OEM coating using our pyrolysis oven, we repaired the metalwork and prepared the surface by blasting with aluminium oxide grit.
Lastly, our AFC3600 composite stainless steel and multilayer fluoropolymer non-stick coating was applied. This composite coating incorporated our thermally cured stainless steel, which provided external reinforcement to the softer non-stick fluoropolymer coating. Resulting in long lasting non-stick properties as the non-stick fluoropolymer is protected from erosion by the thermally sprayed stainless steel.
The refurbished hopper kept its non-stick characteristics for a vastly extended period. The result was that production downtime for costly unscheduled cleaning was massively reduced. It also meant future purchasing of new OEM parts was not required.
Not only did the company experience savings in time and cost straight away, but they also continued to see these savings over time.
If you have a hopper chute that is not performing as well as it could be and is ready for refurbishment, get in touch to see how we can save your business time and money.