Whether purchasing equipment for an existing rubber finishing line or engineering a new line from the ground up, no two applications, processes, or facilities are alike. It’s enticing to consider combining processes in one machine, like the dewatering and drying phases of processing synthetic rubber crumb. After all, buying one piece of equipment sounds less expensive upfront, and to operate and maintain, than buying two. One machine could take up less of a footprint, and in the end, the final output is all the same, right? Not necessarily.
Before making your next investment in a rubber finishing line, consider these factors.
Do you know if the rubber drying equipment you are about to invest in will give you the flexibility needed to create the best product?
At Anderson International, our 60 plus years of polymer processing experience has taught us how important flexibility is for most applications. By using our Expeller® for mechanical dewatering and a separate Expander® for drying, we’re able to help manufacturers adjust moisture, viscosity porosity, temperature, and pressure of the polymer at specific points during processing, not only lowering downstream drying costs but improving the quality of the end product. Rubber manufacturers that invest in single unit solutions often find, for their specific application, they’re producing too much waste rubber, or they need to purchase additional equipment, like a high-cost Apron Dryer to remove remaining moisture.
Additionally, with these “all-in-one” solutions, manufacturers continually struggle to stabilize the rubber reaction and stripping steps, often resulting in off-grade rubber, downtime, and even equipment failure.
Instead of fighting the process, Anderson developed a method with layers of flexibility to achieve optimum results.
The first layer involves the use of a rotary drum dewatering screen during the initial phase of the process. This piece of equipment keeps free water from entering downstream equipment, protecting it from premature corrosion. For clients, this means less downtime and reduced maintenance and repair costs.
The second layer of flexibility comes with the addition of individual Expeller and Expander units. The single or dual stage Expeller, with varying main shaft configurations, regulates fluid (water) in the system by pressing moisture from the rubber and then cutting it into small wafers. Then, the Expander establishes the necessary internal process conditions involving pressure and temperature, and the Expander-Dryer® converts the remaining liquid to steam, flashing it from the polymer. The Expeller and Expander configuration mechanically dries fresh crumb rubber (synthetic or natural) with moistures down to 2% or less.
The final layer of flexibility lies within the Anderson machines, customized specifically to the manufacturer’s production rate and types of rubber they plan to produce. Before each build, Anderson takes the time to research the application and gather information from the client about how corrosive their particular process is known to be. Based on that information and the historical data Anderson has collected since the 1960s, the metallurgy is determined – from stainless steel up the spectrum to titanium – and we then build the equipment to client specs.
The size of the Anderson machine configuration is slightly longer than some single unit solutions, but the Expeller is installed on the floor above the Expander and is gravity fed into the Expander. Thus, most manufacturers we work with don’t find the footprint to be problematic.
Did you know?
Anderson International has been in existence for well over a century, providing complete engineering packages and all associated auxiliary equipment.
Upgrades and Ongoing Support
Just as upgrading software allows technology manufacturers to improve computer performance and enhance productivity over time, upgrading rubber drying equipment and processes can be advantageous, too.
Most rubber manufacturers work to improve the quality of their rubber products incrementally while reducing overall costs, sometimes leading to changes in their process chemicals. But if done without consideration to the metallurgy of their machines, they may experience increased corrosion. If not carefully monitored, corrosion can lead to expensive damage and shutdown of an entire line, often with hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses per day as a consequence.
When the risk of loss is that significant, you need a team who can respond quickly to address the problem, whether that means putting parts on a truck and transporting them to your site within several hours, or responding to calls and texts anytime, from anywhere – Taiwan, India, South Korea, China, Russia, Italy, Scotland, or wherever the location of your manufacturing facility.
It’s important to remember that creating a polymer for a specific application is a complex process. If the process changes, especially if the chemicals involved change, more than likely the machine metallurgy will need to be analyzed and adjusted for the new process to avoid corrosion and downtime. At Anderson, we believe with proper training, thorough maintenance practices, and ongoing and proactive feedback, our polymer manufacturing clients can get the most out of their machines, maintain and upgrade them as necessary, and ensure our products last their intended lifespan.
Closing the Processing Knowledge Gap
As an entire generation of polymer machine operators leaves the workforce, it is imperative for manufacturers to close the knowledge gap by working with an experienced partner like Anderson International. Today’s operators have an in-depth knowledge of the computers and monitoring equipment used to manage rubber finishing line machines, but most lack the years of experience and expertise that comes with touching, seeing, and understanding the texture and shape of quality crumb rubber.
There’s more to polymer processing than turning on the machines. An experienced partner will provide training and documentation for maintenance and troubleshooting, and can examine rubber coming out of a processing unit and pinpoint the cause of most issues by sight and data. Anderson works with clients to bridge that knowledge gap. Operators should never be put on equipment without proper training – for both safety and quality reasons. With the right training and a proactive, collaborative approach when implementing process changes or when problems arise, Anderson can help your company create the best polymer products and ensure profitability.
Now, that’s priceless.
Have additional questions? Reach out today.