Saturday 16th Jan, 2021

Vortex Global provides coffee handling solutions

Coffee roasters are relying on Vortex Global’s dry bulk material handling components to keep up with high consumer demand around the world.

To keep up with increasing demand, coffee producers and suppliers are looking for solutions to improve production processes.

Laurence Millington, Vortex Global Managing Director says the company has been providing dry bulk material handling components to the coffee industry since 1982.

“This was when boutique companies began experimenting with coffee and espresso drinks and the sale of specialty beans became available for sale to the general public,” Millington says.

“Through an extensive history of working with the coffee industry, Vortex has identified key issues with slide gates and diverter valves and developed proprietary technologies to handle everything from whole beans to the finest espresso grounds.”

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Vortex slide gates, diverter valves and loading spouts are constructed of government-approved materials and are designed to be easy to maintain, making them ideal for the handling of coffee and other food and beverage applications. These features also help extend service life while reducing lifecycle and housekeeping costs.

The products are developed to improve process efficiency, provide easy in-line maintenance, ensure dust-free environments, self-compensate for wear, require minimal spare parts, and establish long-term reliability. The Vortex Quantum Series has been designed for food and beverage industries in particular, and include features to prevent cross-contamination and spoilage. Several Vortex components are also designed to accommodate frequent wash-downs and other sanitation processes.

Handling ground coffee with three-way flex tube diverters

In mid-2000, a systems group that was working with a major coffee distributor contacted Vortex regarding the use of their three-way Flex Tube Diverter in a facility expansion. The company liked the cleanliness of the valve and the elimination of possible product cross-contamination and were intrigued about the added flexibility it could provide.

A quote was provided for 39 Flex Tube Diverters. Modifications were made to offset outlet ports one and three and also extend outlet port two, a total of 11 inches (280 millimetres). Vortex knew the valves would handle ground coffee and would not need to shift between the three outlets while in use. The system would run at eight to 10 pounds per square inch and could potentially spike to 15 pounds per square inch at times.

The valves were ordered and shipped in late 2000, but in January 2001, Vortex was contacted regarding a problem the customer was encountering with the diverters. The system was seeing considerably more pressure than was originally indicated when the valves were quoted and the flexible tubing in the diverters were vibrating loose from their mounting stubs.

“Engineers from Vortex made three separate trips to the facility to access the problem and make modifications to all 39 Flex Tube Diverters,” Millington says.

“There were apparent problems with other parts of the system. The systems group and the customer appreciated Vortex’s quick response to identifying and resolving the issue.”

Roller gates and Seal Tite diverters for coffee beans

Roller gates and three-way Seal Tite Diverters were implemented in a conveying system to support the movement of green and roasted coffee beans. The customer is currently only using the middle outlet of the Seal Tite Diverters. The two outside legs are blanked off for future expansion if necessary.

The roller gates feature infinite variable positioners (IVPs) to allow material flow control capabilities on both the opening and closing strokes.

“IVPs are highly accurate,” Millington says. “When automated, the IVP can actuate in increments of +/- 2 per cent. When manually controlled, the IVP can actuate in increments of +/- 4 per cent.

“Both products are serviceable while in-line allowing for ease of maintenance and minimal downtime.”

Fill pass diverter handling roasted beans

System engineers working with the project initially compared a Vortex Fill Pass Diverter to a flapper style scale valve. Upon conclusion of the comparative tests between the two types of valves, the group discovered that the Vortex Fill Pass Diverter caused minimal damage to the roasted beans – much less than the flapper style diverter.

After further review, the engineers proposed an adaption to the Fill Pass that might further reduce damage to the beans. Instead of tangentially conveying the beans into the hopper stack, they suggested replacing the fill stack with a curved discharge tube to introduce beans directly into the bin.

Vortex manufactured four Fill Pass Diverter Valves with flanged radius discharge elbows. The special design improved the overall bean condition.

Millington adds that coffee producers around the world rely on Vortex products to solve their bulk handling needs.

“More than 35 coffee facilities utilise a Vortex slide gate or diverter valve in their daily operations,” he says.