Company: Stable Micro Systems


Equipment Snapshot: Stable Micro Systems has developed a new rig to enable food manufacturers to measure the flowability of compacted powders, such as flour, cocoa powder, starch and more, quickly and easily. The device is designed to provide accurate measurements of flow behavior, to increase operational efficiency and improve quality standards along the production line. 

Powders often compact under their own weight during storage, causing blockages in the hopper and restricting flow. This can result in incorrect dosage, wasted product and/or downtime while blockages are cleared. The Powder Vertical Shear Rig imitates a filled hopper, testing the flow of a powder from a packed state. During the test, a specific mass of powder is transferred to the main body of the rig and compressed to a chosen force to create a ‘cake’ of powder. A door below the powder is then released to reveal an outlet and a probe, slightly smaller than this hole, pushes the powder through. The results of this test reveal how easily the powder flows from a packed state. This can help to determine the correct hopper outlet size, as well as indicating whether any changes are needed to the powder formulations, such as adding flow additives or changing the powder particle size accordingly.

The likelihood of blockages forming depends on both the properties of the powder and the conditions surrounding it, such as temperature and humidity. These conditions can be mimicked with the use of Stable Micro Systems’ thermal cabinets. Thanks to its innovative Community Registered design, the Powder Vertical Shear Rig requires minimal operator handling, helping to avoid disturbances of the sample or its environments between test stages.

Jo Smewing, applications manager at Stable Micro Systems, comments: “Working with powders on food production lines can be challenging, as discharging them from storage can be unreliable. Understanding a powder’s flow behavior is therefore key to meeting operational demands and minimizing production downtime. By optimizing storage, packing, handling and transportation conditions, manufacturers can not only save costs, but also achieve consistently high-quality end products.”

The Powder Vertical Shear Rig is an extension of Stable Micro Systems’ wider powder testing solutions offered by the Powder Flow Analyzer.