Owing to its large footprint in KwaZulu-Natal, vibration equipment manufacturer Vipro Vibrating Products caters to the front-end, back-end and packing processes in the sugar processing plant.
The front-end comprises the receiving and processing of raw material, the back-end the extraction of sugar from raw material, and the packing processes of the final product to client preferences.
“We have successfully used our vibrator motors and bin vibrators on the bins and chutes of sugar processing plants to ensure that the sugar does not clog up in these areas,” says Vipro international sales and marketing manager Pieter Uys.
He adds that Vipro has a full range ofpneumatic drives available for use in the packing area of sugar processing plants. The drives come standard with stainless steel end covers, which is beneficial to the sugar industry because there is a significant reduction in moisture penetration and associated electrical failures as well as superior corrosion protection
The company has also designed and manufactured vibrating tables to compact the sugar, which, in turn, ensure that the sugar bags are filled up properly and, in cases where sugar is packed in so-called finger bags (for coffee and tea), more of these bags can fit into one box at a time.
Vibration equipment should be specifically designed for each application. Vipro places great emphasis on ensuring that all equipment designed is specific to the application, thus ensuring reduced initial capital layout and reduced operational cost.
Uys says the material used to manufacture vibrating equipment, wear rates and operating conditions vary from industry to industry.
The life expectancy of grizzly feeders, feeders, screens and vibrating tables is longer in the sugar industry, owing to less wear. Mild steel and stainless steel are used as manufacturing material. Stainless steel decreases the chances of the sugar being contaminated at any of the processing stages.
Further, the company is designing a process plant, which will remove the oversize on the woodchips used to feed the boiler, for a client in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. This process requires a grizzly feeder, a hopper that is divided into two parts, and two feeders under the hopper that feeds onto belt conveyors, says Uys.
Many of the sugar plants use boilers to create steam, which, in turn, is used in the rest of the plant. The project mentioned above is exactly for this purpose. The fines and oversize need to be removed from the woodchips, this is done with the grizzly feeder.
These woodchips are then fed into a hopper and through two vibrating feeders fed into the boilers at a constant rate. The woodchips are then burnt to create heat for the boiler.
He notes that Vipro continuously places emphasis on research and development (R&D) to assist and improve operations for clients, hence its employing a full-time product development engineer and its acquiring discrete element modelling software.
The software is a particle-scale numerical method for modelling the bulk behaviour of granular materials and many geomaterials such as coal, ores, soil, rocks, aggregates, pellets, tablets and powders.
In addition to collaborating closely with a plant engineer, Vipro uses the software to do a flow analysis or a simulation of how the product flows onto the screen to ensure screening efficiency, and to identify and address flow problems like blockages, spillages and erratic flow.
The results of the R&D efforts are constantly contributing to improved designs and manufacturability of the vibration equipment that is manufactured locally at the company’s manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria.
“One of the most important advantages for clients is that we save them time and money by performing multiple design iterations and evaluating the performance of these designs before any equipment is manufactured,” says Uys.
He mentions that the sugar industry comprises about 10% to 15% of the company’s total turnover.