- MIXING World
The HF MIXING GROUP offers its customers perfect testing conditions in a production environment at three different locations.
Companies in the rubber and plastics industry are constantly researching new products and materials. A new product has to undergo a whole series of tests before it is launched onto the market. These tests are indispensable. However, a manufacturing company generally doesn’t have the opportunity to carry out all the necessary tests by itself. For one thing, its machinery is tied up in its own production planning and is often no longer state of the art. Even tests under laboratory conditions – as they are largely outsourced to research facilities and universities – can only simulate a result under real product conditions without actually reproducing them.
Above all, the interplay of the various factors involved in a mixing process – including the raw material and the way in which it is added, the actual mixing and discharging method, and any further processing stages – significantly influence the end result. That is why the industry is focusing ever more on choosing the right production machines and systems in combination with the product being manufactured or the material being processed. In 2012 in Freudenberg, the HF MIXING GROUP opened what is probably the most modern research and development centre in the tyre and technical rubber goods industry. MIXING TOGETHER reported extensively on it in the last issue. Meanwhile, a new UMIX 80 TDH mixing system has increased the testing options at the site. Both single drives powering the tangentially running sigma blades on the UMIX can be adjusted to run at between five and 50 revolutions per minute by means of a continuously variable speed control, both in synchronous and friction mode. With a capacity of 80 litres, the mixing chamber is designed to operate under negative pressure and can be adjusted to work at up to 230 degrees Celsius. Accordingly, the UMIX also offers supreme flexibility and adds another interesting option to the range of machinery at the technical centre. All machines and weighing equipment in the Freudenberger research and development centre are operated using the HF automation system ADVISE® ES. This superordinate system takes care of the entire process management and documents all the available process data such as weighing reports, rotor speeds, compound temperatures and power consumption. This permits precise analysis and processing of the mixing results.
The conference and training rooms, which are now also ready, are equipped with state-of-the-art media technology. Besides being used for internal HF training courses, they are also used for lecture events and seminars with external cooperation partners and customers. The head of the high-tech empire is Alexander Quast. The 28-year-old is the personification of the HF MIXING GROUP’s brand promise: pure passion. Despite his tender years, the friendly man radiates remarkable competence and authority. At the age of 16 he embarked on his first training course to become a mechatronics engineer at Harburg-Freudenberger and subsequently worked all around the world as a service technician. In 2008 he returned to the classroom for two years at the technical vocational college in Siegen, from where he graduated as a certified electrical engineer. Since then he has worked on various research and development projects and has been managing the technical centre for a year. He says that the HF technical centre has now become a kind of Mecca for the international tyre and technical rubber goods industry. Also striking is the increasing number of people interested in mixing renewable raw materials and other special applications. In these areas, too, the centre also provides the ideal testing environment.
Highly modern and customer-friendly:
the FARREL POMINI process laboratories
The counterpart to the Freudenberger technical centre is located in Oxford, Connecticut: just a few kilometres from the HF site, the FARREL POMINI offices, in Ansonia. The FARREL POMINI customer demonstration labora‑ tory shows customers what is technically possible for continuous mixers. The modern laboratory in the USA was built almost two years ago at a cost of 500,000 US dollars. Within the HF MIXING GROUP, this business unit is responsible for machinery used primarily for plastic applications. However, this facility is used for more than just customer demonstrations, it is also the home of the FARREL POMINI research and development centre for the continuous mixer product series.
In addition to Oxford, FARREL POMINI operates another modern testing laboratory in Rochdale, Great Britain. Both facilities offer customers from around the world the opportunity to test their highly specialized processing needs for various materials under real conditions. Among the equipment available at both facilities is a CP550 processor, which provides options for underwater pelletising, stranding and other special applications. This CP550 Compact Processor from the CP Series II™ is a production-sized processor which routinely scales up machine conditions and product qualities to our larger production machines. It has a number of additional features for evaluating different configurations, geometries and mixing conditions. A CPXL chamber and CPXL rotors make it possible to demonstrate LCM technologies in the latest CPXL format.
The CP550 is part of a ‘real’ and highly modern process line which customers can use for conducting their tests. Both the Oxford and Rochdale facilities are equipped with a range of different feed-in options and offer various possibilities for the accurate filling and processing of pellets, powders, liquids and other raw materials. Latest design control and data acquisition systems are integrated with the laboratory equipment.
The testing availability offers a number of advantages to those interested in making a purchase: ‘Our customers are able to see with their own eyes what they can expect and also see that our products live up to their promises. They are taught operation techniques from our experts and can make their purchase with the peace of mind that they have chosen the right system for their market challenges,’ says FARREL POMINI business unit director Paul Lloyd. ‘We are delighted to be able to offer our customers so much with these laboratories,’ he adds. It is now a standard for customers to be able to test their compounds in a realistic situation. It is an opportunity that many people use. ‘We conduct several tests every month at each location. The money spent by the HF MIXING GROUP on these facilities has been well invested,’ explains Paul Lloyd.