This page describes the Ingredients automatic weighing system manufactured by Adept Technology.
Chilbridge Farms in Dorset is a major producer of eggs, supplying to local shops, hotels and other local outlets.
With 90,000 hungry chickens to feed they need 75 to 80 tons of feed per week.
While this can be purchased from specialist suppliers, Chilbridge choose to make their own feed, which allows them to ensure the quality and also helps to reduce costs.
The process of manufacturing feed utilises ten large hoppers containing various ingredients.
Chilbridge produce a dozen different recipes of feed for their animals.
In the past a fully automatic weighing system was in place, where valves were opened by compressed air and ingredients weighed into a main weigh hopper.
Weights were monitored by a mechanical dial and lever system attached to the hopper.
Mike Buxton, Mill Manager, was responsible for running the old weighing system which required him to be constantly present throughout the process.
"Getting the mix right is very important as the quality of the feed directly affects the quality of eggs produced by our chickens".
Chilbridge Farms felt that by updating the weighing system and improving the accuracy of the weighing, they could ensure that the feed was of a consistently higher quality.
At this point they contacted Dave Ayling of Solent Scale Services, a leading distributor of weighing equipment in the south of England.
Dave says there were several key factors in designing an automated weighing Ingredients system for mixing the feed.
"To ensure the quality of every batch of feed, we needed to guarantee the accuracy of the automatic weighing system, which meant using high quality weighing components.
We also wanted the weighing system to store the full recipes for each feed.
To allow the operator more freedom the valves on the ten hoppers were to be automated, to open and close when the target weights were hit.
The environment of the Ingredients weighing system is demanding, with dust from the various ingredients so quality and reliability of all components was vital, as was ease of maintenance".
Dave Ayling developed a Ingredient system which allows the automated addition of the large bulk ingredients, alongside the manual addition of extra ingredients in smaller quantities.
To control the flow of ingredients from the ten storage hoppers, David installed a Sartorius ProX5 weighing system weight controller.
The ProX5 controls the on-off functions for the auger feeders, and additionally for an oil pump to add soya oil to the mix.
It also controls the main hopper slide valve.
The ProX5 holds the 12 recipes for various types of feed, and stores each ingredient as a percentage of the final mix, so final quantities of feed can easily be adjusted as required.
Soya oil is a vital part of each recipe, having a significant impact on the quality of eggs produced.
The oil batching tank is controlled separately through a PR1720 weighing transmitter, connected to the ProX5.
With a background PLC programme in the X5, the tank is continuously refilled whilst the X5 batches the other components.
This ensures a high speed fill process without interruptions.
Dave explained the benefits of the set-up.
"The X5 was an obvious choice for us.
At initial meetings the customer stressed the importance in accuracy and repeatability in batch weighings.
Having worked closely with Sartorius over many years, we knew that the unrivalled accuracy and reliability of the X5 weighing system would benefit his company for many years to come.
As the supplier, installer and maintainer of the Ingredients weighing system, the ease of setup and calibration make the Sartorius equipment our number one choice for this type of application".
A second Sartorius operator display, the PR1627, is used to control the manual addition of the extra ingredients.
The required ingredients and volumes are called up from the recipes held on the ProX5 and displayed in clear text on the PR1627 indicator for the user to follow.
Once these have been added and confirmed by the user the product goes into its final mixing stage and is ready to be dispatched.
In addition to supplying and installing the hardware, Dave worked with Michael Sheerin, a process engineering specialist from Sartorius to develop the Pro X5 programme to run the weighing process.
The Ingredients weighing system was installed by Solent Scales Services just over a year ago and Mike Buxton says it has made a significant impact.
"The weighing accuracy of each batch is now assured, and we've seen positive results in the quality of eggs our chickens are producing".
The system also allows the operator time for other tasks.
While previously with the old weighing system he would have to be constantly present to open and close valves on the hoppers, he can now manually add ingredients when required, and maintains the system.
Respective topics: Performance of onboard weighing systems Ingredients System Weighing Systems Dynamic Weighing