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Matcon-Buls helps to set the world's table.

Matcon-Buls Helps to Set the World's Table

When Mr and Mrs John Bull and their neighbours around the world rise to greet the day, let out the dog, let in the cat, start boiling water for tea, coffee and porridge, little do they realise that almost all the food products they and their pets will consume have somewhere along the line been handled by Matcon-Buls products. The vitamins, drugs and food supplements, and the packages in which these are sold, are all made up of products handled in some form or another by Matcon-Buls equipment. Add to that, the animal feeds and feed supplements that nourish the beef, pork, lamb and poultry constituents of the diet. For those of vegetarian persuasion, Matcon-Buls has assisted the world's leading non meat product producers in bringing those speciality nutritional foods to market.

Matcon Ltd was formed on October 31st 1981 by Ivan Semenenko, who is managing director of Matcon-Buls Ltd UK and president of Matcon-Buls Inc USA. Mr Semenenko devised, designed, engineered and developed the then new bulk materials handling equipment, which was special in nature and advanced in performance. Shortly after this, Sir John Aird bought his engineering and commercial experience to the company by joining it as chairman. Matcon grew from being a company comprising two talented men, who had the product manufacturing hired out, to one employing more than 70 people in the UK, with three manufacturing facilities and affiliate companies on every continent.

In February 1990 Matcon Ltd acquired the technology of Bulk Unit Load Systems (BULS), then a 26 year old organization. This acquisition expanded Matcon's penetration into the pharmaceutical industry and augmented its original services to the food industry. Now trading as Matcon-Buls, the company can cite almost 30 years experience in the manufacture of food manufacturing and processing machinery, equipment and systems.

The products which allowed such growth are basic materials equipment, suitable for many industrial applications but especially appropriate for food manufacturing and processing. Their major products are a silo/bin discharger valve and a system of intermediate bulk containers, complete with bin discharge stations to provide hygienic and flexible manufacturing procedures. Augmenting the foregoing, Matcon-Buls engineers, designs and builds in-bin container tumble/blenders for mixing products in a fully contained manner, food container washer/dryer stations and multiple stations for dry materials.

The discharge valve is a patented and proved device that guarantees controlled product removal from both large and small silos or bins. This integral unit consists of a cone section attached to the lower portion of the host silo/bin into which an inverted, movable cone and the required operational equipment is also mounted.

This system, which has only one moving part, is simple and effective. The cone, complete with appropriate seals of hygienic construction, is positioned above the silo/bin discharge opening. At rest, the cone acts as a dust-tight valve to seal the opening, thereby creating a dust-free atmosphere. When stored

material needs to be discharged, the cone rises and vibrates, allowing material to flow through the resulting annular gap. As long as the cone is raised, it continues to vibrate. The cone lifting into the stored product, while continuously vibrating, breaks any product bridge and prevents rat-holing in the silo or bin. That highly desired action promotes 'mass flow' to give even, controlled, non segregated, free-flowing product discharge. These discharge characteristics can be applied to almost any material, even after that material has been in the silo or bin for an extended time period. Of course, variable throughputs are possible by increasing or decreasing the cone lift height, and/or pulsing the cone height lift, and/or pulsing the cone to suit requirements.

The obvious advantages with such a system are the elimination of traditional silo or bin bridging, rat-holing, segregation, degradation or product flushing. The gentle, yet firm, Matcon-Buls discharger action controls flow rate very accurately. Its dust control characteristics ensure that COSHH, OSHA and FDA regulations are met and surpassed. The discharger is entirely air operated and intrinsically safe.

This discharger can be installed in either new or existing silos or bins, and can be built in any material appropriate to the product being handled.

The food industry needs to ensure high standards for cleanliness and hygiene, prevent cross-contamination and ensure product dust containment. The UK has especially stringent standards, enforceable regulations and procedures which must be met. Fortunately, almost all other countries have equally rigid standards. It was to these established standards that Matcon-Buls developed a second major product range - a method for meeting and surpassing all the regulatory requirements, while at the same time providing operating advantages when handling foodstuffs.

Their Intermediate Bulk Container system comprises two separate elements. The first is a container embodying all requirements for food handling. These bins must be available in stainless steel or polyethylene, must be easily filled, easily cleaned and, above all, must be capable of positively discharging materials in a contained, contaminant-free, dust-free manner. Matcon-Buls builds bins to those specifications, and enhances the discharge capabilities by including one of their cone valves in each container.

The second element is their IBC discharge station. In order to remove materials from a bin in a dust and contamination-free manner, the discharge station must actuate the cone valve in the bin and feed material to the next process. This is achieved by having a cone actuator or 'probe' built into a framework capable of holding and locating the bin correctly so the cone valve and probe properly engage. When the probe engages the cone valve, it lifts and vibrates it, providing the same bridge-breaking characteristic and prevention of rat-holing and the elimination of mass material flow discharge as the original Matcon discharger.

This IBC system is said to be the only one that is totally contained and dust-free during bin transport, bin discharge and bin removal, which is dust-free before, during and after discharge. This unique condition was purposely designed and engineered. The cone valve has a seal providing in-bin integrity, the discharge station has a lip-seal which surrounds and touches the outer edges of the probe. When the bin is lowered on to the station, the bin spigot compresses the lip-seal, positively sealing bin and bin cone valve to the station and probe. When the bin is lifted, this process is reversed and, before the spigot clears the probe, the lip-seal is again against the probe, ensuring dust-free operation.

Because their IBC systems are involved with actual manufacturing processes, they must be versatile. When the discharge stations are equipped with load- cells, these systems can be converted to loss-in-weight or gain-in-weight units. These units can be used for batch weighing or continuous weighing, eliminating the need for secondary feeders or scale equipment.

Matcon-Buls systems are available in standard sizes but smaller or larger bins can be supplied. All systems can be built in mild steel, aluminium, stainless steel or polyethylene. This system is really three systems - a dust-tight shut-off valve, dependable discharger and metering feeder.

A brief review of successfully operating Matcon-Buls equipment installations within the food industry includes the following.

If Mr and Mrs John Bull and their worldwide neighbours begin the day with a bun or toast, it is likely that Matcon-Buls was involved in helping to get the basic flour from a large silo into the package for home or bakery. A major flour producer encountered difficult bridging problems in 120 tonne flour silos. Bridging caused erratic discharge and extensive downstream blending difficulties. Matcon dischargers were compared with traditional 'bin activators' and chosen since they could solve problems the old-fashioned activators could not. The feed was controlled by level probes, allowing a constant amount of flour and other ingredients to be fed to process.

A pet food manufacturer was experiencing lost production time and suffering from gross inefficiencies - bulk pellet bins were not discharging properly or consistently. The pellets and mealy materials were bridging because a meat or fish extract had been introduced and this created a cohesive, non free-flowing material, which stayed in the bin. The Matcon punched a vibrating cone into the mass, broke it down into constituent pellets, creating material flow. Consistent material flow enabled the packing lines to increase efficiency significantly. In fact, the new units paid for themselves in a mere seven weeks! In another case the Matcon discharger was able to handle a dense material having 10-12 percent free moisture content at a rate of 2.5 tonnes per hour whereas other units failed.

A leading feed mill suffered typical blockage and bridging problems when trying to discharge finished pellets into bulk carriers or to the bagging- off line. This facility was designed as a computer-controlled mill, requiring a maximum of product delivery and a minimum of manual labour to hammer recalcitrant bins. After many attempts to solve the difficulty, Matcon was called in to evaluate the situation. The eventual solution was to fit their basic dischargers into existing silos. The first unit was installed on a difficult product - a 35 tonne sugar beet pellet silo where the material had a 30 percent molasses content. Even after prolonged storage, the new discharger provided consistent flow. Again, the lifting vibrating action, which the Matcon provided, moved a most difficult product.

The vegetarian home cooked food market is well served by Matcon IBC systems. Soya is substituted for meat, then combined with a range of vegetables to produce mouth-watering dishes. Increased production demands caused a large producer to seek out methods for economically increasing production. It was necessary to locate a transport system which would meet production requirements whilst ensuring containment integrity. The Matcon-Buls system was selected because it could store and triple stack the containers and guarantee to discharge the mixes with difficult flow characteristics as desired in a 'mass flow' discharge which ensured a non segregated product going to the packing equipment. All of this was done fully automatically.

One of Britain's leading contract packers wanted an IBC system to automate the bulk materials handling side of their operation. Matcon IBCs were selected because they provided a quiet dust-tight labour-free system which was capable of discharging any type material. In this case, the materials range in consistency from muesli to sticky powders. The Matcon-Buls system was the only one offered which could be controlled by downstream packing machines. The hygienic bins with integral cones can be removed from the discharge stations in partially loaded condition so that a new bin with a new product can be introduced immediately.

Whether it be dried leek flakes for soup, or nitrogen purged coffee bins, Matcon-Buls has had a hand in bringing food to the world's table.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:60 Years of Food Trade Review: 1931-1991
Publication:Food Trade Review
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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