Blending is one of the most common and universal unit operations. Blending is used in everyday life anytime you cook and add ingredients to make a dish. So how does blending differ in manufacturing?
Optimal parameter control will minimize the blend from segregating.
In manufacturing, to make a homogeneous, uniform mix, many points must be considered. Variables for consideration must include equipment choice, blend choice, processing parameters, and even homogeneity. Why are these variables important? Since over-blending is virtually impossible, optimal parameter control will minimize the blend from segregating.
Let’s look at each of these variables. Various types of blenders exists—V blenders, ribbon blenders, ribbon paddle blenders, etc. to name a few—plus blenders could also have intensifier bars for further agitation. Depending on the choice of the blender, the processing parameters could be different. Fill level in the blender is different between a V blender and a ribbon blender, for example, to ensure efficient mixing. Mix time and speed are parameters that are also likely to impact homogeneity of the blend. Based on blender choice, order of ingredients is also important, though a rule of thumb is always to add the largest ingredient to the blender first while adding triturations of smaller ingredients so as to make a homogeneous blend. Homogeneity of the blend should also be looked at post-discharge and post-storage as sampling errors can occur if optimization of where the sampling is done and number of samples taken is not looked at.
Some important tips that can help you successfully make a homogeneous blend include purchasing raw materials with uniform particle size as well as utilize ingredients that are free flowing (perhaps microencapsulated/spray dried/milled ingredients will help with this). Triturations can also help when adding smaller ingredients into larger blends. If using a V blender, divide the ingredients into half, adding half on one side and the other half to the other side as this will result in a more a homogenous mix. Sample in multiple locations (top, bottom, and middle) after blending and discharge to ensure no segregation and test for lower percentage ingredients to ensure homogeneity. Probably the most important tip is to always make sure to verify the potency of the raw materials prior to use as sometimes that might be the primary reason a blend is not homogeneous.
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Watson can help deliver the homogeneous blends that contain those vitamins, minerals, and functional ingredients that can aid you in your food fortification process.