With the global marketplace exerting persistent pressure on variable costs, manufacturers across a range of sectors are evaluating the potential of on-line process analysis. The IntelliMill, an intelligent milling system that is a joint development from Malvern Instruments and Hosokawa Micron Ltd, demonstrates how the synergy between on-line particle sizing and advanced process control can be fully exploited. This integrated unit delivers improvements in both process efficiency and product quality.
Using the IntelliMill, material is processed in a fully optimized way by simply dialling in the required product grade. The benefits include reduced energy consumption, less waste, tighter particle size distribution and fewer manpower requirements.
The IntelliMill combines Malvern’s industrially robust Insitec technology for on-line particle size analysis with Hosokawa Micron’s well-established air classifier milling (ACM) systems. A multi-input multi-output (MIMO) rule-based controller ensures that for any given product specification a range of parameters, such as airflow through the mill, mill speed, and feed rate, are optimized simultaneously to maximize mill throughput and minimize energy usage. Mill performance is constantly re-analyzed to maintain optimal processing and the transition to a new set point is achieved rapidly and efficiently. A simple user interface, in which all sensors are seamlessly integrated, allows easy monitoring of mill performance.
While the IntelliMill is a fully integrated option for manufacturers operating milling processes, the approach that its development typifies demonstrates how the full benefits of on-line analysis can be exploited for any unit operation. By fully exploring the potential of on-line systems, true cost benefit analyses can be determined and short project payback times realized.