Friday 19th Aug, 2022

A storm is brewing: Vortex Global supports Australian tea

Vortex Global’s bulk handling equipment is specifically designed for handling dry tea leaves, an abrasive material with explosion potential.

Vortex Global’s bulk handling equipment is specifically designed for handling dry tea leaves, an abrasive material with explosion potential.

As part of a study, Roy Morgan Research has found Australians love a cuppa. One in every two Australians drink a cup of tea at least once a week, with only tap water, milk and hot coffee beating it in popularity according to the findings.

It also found Australian tea drinkers consume, on average, around five to 10 cups a week, depending on age. The tea industry made more than $1.64 billion in revenue in 2018, according to analysis from Statista, which expects the market to grow annually by 3.5 per cent through to 2023.

To ensure thousands of Australians can enjoy their afternoon tea, Vortex Global has been providing dedicated equipment designed to handle dry tea leaves for more than a decade.

During this time, it has provided more than 75 slide gates, diverter valves, iris diaphragm, and loading chutes specifically designed for bulk dry tea leaves. Each piece of tea handling equipment has its material contact areas constructed from 304 stainless steel and are built to IECEx specifications.

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An electropolished blade is often included to help accommodate wash down, along with polyethylene terephthalate polymer seals to prevent swelling in the presence of moisture during these wash-down procedures. Ferrule fittings are also included to accommodate compression couplings instead of studded bolt flanges.

Taylor’s tea time

Taylor’s of Harrogate is a tea and coffee merchant based in North Yorkshire, England. Established in 1886, the company offers a range of teas sold in more than 35 countries.

In order to streamline its processes, Taylor’s of Harrogate reached out to Vortex Global. Previously, blended teas were transferred to two packing machines, each with a dedicated vacuum conveying system.

Engineers at Taylor’s of Harrogate wanted to combine the two systems, with the aim of reducing costs, energy consumption and the number of vacuum pumps and pipework, without affecting the quality, taste or structure of the tea.

Vortex provided Taylor’s of Harrogate with four of its Wye Line Diverters to use on a trial basis over several weeks. When the trial ended, Taylor’s of Harrogate was impressed with how the diverter valves had performed and purchased an additional eight diverters.

“Many are surprised to hear that dry leaf tea is actually a very abrasive material with explosion potential,” a Taylor’s of Harrogate spokesperson says.

“We certainly valued Vortex’s trial service, so that we could evaluate the diverter valves in use with our product. The valves were also modified with abrasion-resistant features to help us get around the potential wear problem.”

By using the Wye Line Diverters to bring the two systems together, Taylor’s of Harrogate was able to remove three 4.3 kilowatt electric motors, reducing power consumption as well as noise in the production hall.

Vortex also provided Taylor’s of Harrogate with loading chutes to control fine material particulate when various types of tea leaves are fed into the blending drum. The chute has a tube-in-tube design with a neoprene-coated polyester outer sleeve, which is static dissipative to address the potentially explosive environment.

It uses three double-acting air cylinder actuators, replacing the standard electric motor and four-cable hoist drive system, and has a dust collection port routed into the pre-existing dust collection system. For food safety, the spout’s material contact areas are stainless steel, with all welds ground and polished.

Once all the tea types have been introduced into the blending drum, the spout is retracted, and the blender is secured to begin the blending process. When the process is complete, the tea blend is transported to a packaging line.

Since the upgrade, Taylor’s of Harrogate has acquired several additional Vortex Wye Line Diverters to work alongside the diverter valves that are still in service today.