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Liquid-ring vacuum pumps cut maintenance time at Unigate.

Liquid-Ring Vacuum Pumps Cut Maintenance Time at Unigate

Unigate has eliminated the need to regularly strip down and clean the vacuum systems at two of its milk bottling plants by installing liquid-ring vacuum pumps made by Nash Engineering.

The milk bottling process requires a vacuum system for two reasons. Firstly, it enables air to be sucked out of each bottle at the same time as the milk is pumped in; air extraction results in dramatically increased production rates when compared with gravity- fed systems. And secondly, the vacuum system can remove any excess milk in order to ensure that the bottle is filled to the correct level.

The filling systems installed at Unigate's Hanworth and Worthing dairies were originally supplied with dry-vane rotary vacuum pumps but both sites found that these pumps needed regular cleaning because, during the bottling process, milk vapour was inevitably entrained and carried on to the vanes of the pump, where it collected and solidified, impairing the pump's performance.

As the dry-vane pumps could not be cleaned by simply passing detergent through the system, the only option was to dismantle them completely. At Hanworth, which has one of the highest capacity filling systems in the country, this dismantling process had to be carried out at least twice a week. According to the dairy's engineering manager, it used to take "a good couple of hours" to strip down, clean and re-assemble the pump.

These factors, combined with the need to maintain the high quality of its end product, prompted Unigate to investigate alternative methods of air extraction. Following a careful evaluation of available systems, the company settled on the Nash liquid-ring vacuum pump.

Two MHC120 types were installed at Hanworth - one for each of the two 600 bottles a minute filling systems - while a single MHF150 type was selected for Worthing's filling line, which has a capacity of 400 bottles a minute. The bigger pump was necessary at Worthing because it had to be sited at a considerable distance away from the filler bowl.

Operating on the liquid-ring principle, the Nash pumps have just one moving part with no metal-to-metal contact and therefore provide reliable service

This is possible because the functions of mechanical pistons or valves are performed by a rotating ring of liquid compressant, usually water.

These pumps can easily accept process carryover without impairing their performance, which means that any milk vapour or dairy waste entrained in the extracted air is simply carried through with the pump sealing water and discharged.

Furthermore, the liquid-ring design has enabled the pumps to be incorporated into the dairies' CIP (clean-in-place) systems, so there is no longer any need to strip down the air extraction system in order to clean it thoroughly.

All the pumps have been installed for several months and operate continuously for 20 hours a day, six days a week.

Nash Engineering Co (Great Britain) Ltd is located at Road One, Industrial Estate, Winsford, Cheshire, tel:0606 594242.
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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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