Fox’s Biscuits improves quality with variable speed drive 03 October 2012

Fox's Biscuits of Batley, West Yorkshire, is reporting improved biscuit quality, as well as reduced wastage since replacing an old slip-ring motors with an ABB motor and variable speed drive on one of its dough mixers.

Paul Mayman, area engineering manager for Fox's Biscuits, also reports an improved its ability to develop new products following the installation.

He explains that initially, ABB Drives Alliance member Halcyon Drives was asked to investigate the potential for saving energy on its 10 Baker Perkins dough mixers, each of which was driven by an 18.5kW slip-ring motor.

"Although the initial reason for the project was energy saving, it soon became clear that the drive gives us a lot of other advantages that were more important to us," states Mayman.

"One of the major ones is the flexibility to run at different speeds. We have a lot of other ingredients in our biscuits, such as fruit [and] previously, the mixers might overmix, leading to staining where the fruit becomes a mush," he continues.

"This helps us maintain a high quality product and avoids the situation where a whole 400kg batch of dough could be wasted."

The ability of the drive to change the speed of the mixer also allows the company to be more innovative. "With the drive-controlled mixer, we can experiment by using different speeds throughout the mix, from as low as two rpm to 50 or 60 rpm."

The greater torque of the ABB motor has also led to higher reliability of the mixer. Maintenance engineers, he says, are spending less time on them and the production department has a lot more confidence.

Says Mayman: "The drive also gives us a lot of other facilities, such as the load analyser, which saves process data, such as current and torque values that we could use to assess production issues. Although we are not using these facilities yet, they are another example of the flexibility of the ABB drive."

Following the installation of this drive and motor on one of the mixers, Halcyon discovered that the power requirements on both mixers were significantly less than rated power, indicating that the slip-ring motors were greatly oversized.

Brian Tinham

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