CIRCOR Industrial Valves Americas has helped a Midwest industrial chocolate manufacturer with an overheating issue, saving the company thousands of dollars per chocolate batch.
The company’s jacketed kettle tanks, used to heat cocoa butter mixture, require a consistent temperature of 130º F, but the tanks were overheating and overcooking the cocoa butter, causing it to caramelize. This was costing the company anywhere from $40,000 to $160,000, depending on the size of the batch.
Because of this manufacturing challenge, the company was unable to fulfill orders, hurting its bottom line and its customer relationships. Forced to stop production altogether to avoid loses, the company called on CIRCOR Industrial Valves Americas channel partner Somes-Nick & Co. to help fix the problem.
The Challenge: Overheated Steam
The facility was using another vendor’s temperature pilot and pressure regulator to control the steam pressure sent to the plate and frame heat exchanger. The regulator was intended to heat the water to 130º F and create steam to circulate in the tank’s jacket. However, the other vendor’s regulator was failing to open, causing it to overheat or stop the heating process altogether.
In addition, the regulators were not properly sized. The isolation valve being used in the old application offered no modulation to maintain the required 130º F. The result was overheating and loss of product. The company utilizes three tanks and batches range from 10,000 to 40,000 lbs. The company was losing about $4 for every pound of chocolate that caramelized.
The Solution: CIRCOR Valves
The company knew that the tanks were overheating but could not identify the causes. When it could not get assistance from the vendor that sold them the original products, CIRCOR channel partner Somes-Nick & Co. came into the plant. Somes-Nick & Co. discovered that there was no strainer upstream of the valves, the valves were incorrectly sized and that there was a problem with the interface between the valve and the pilot.
Drawings were done to illustrate how the problem could be solved using CIRCOR equipment. The correct valve size was determined with calculations taking into account the weight of the product being cooked, the required temperature rise, and the number of BTUs needed to heat the tank for an hour-long cook.
Using that data, an application utilizing a Spence E2, a Spence T14 temperature pilot, and a Spence M33 solenoid, was recommended. The solenoid valve was placed between the pilot and the main valve. With the new setup, when the water was sent to the heat exchanger, and the resulting heated water reached the desired 130º F temperature, the solenoid valve would shut off the steam to the heat exchanger to prevent overheating. As soon as the water temperature dropped 3-5 degrees below 130º F, the solenoid valve would energize the T14 pilot to heat the water back up to the required temperature.
CIRCOR’s channel partner was able to come up with the ideal solution in a timely manner thanks to having previously worked on about 20 similar systems for other customers. Initially, the new application was implemented in just one of the plant’s three tanks. After it was rolled-out, tested and determined to be working properly, the new application was completed on the other two tanks.
The process from the first visit, to the installation and solution, took approximately four months. The new application is saving the customer between $40,000 to $100,000 per chocolate batch.
Another key result was the cocoa processor getting product distribution to their customers back on track. The company is also saving the money it was losing on energy to generate unnecessary steam.