Bühler Aeroglide

I wrote feature articles for Bühler Aeroglide’s quarterly employee publication from 2011 through 2014. The company manufactures industrial dryers.

Kerry was a pleasure to work with—even remotely. We hired Kerry to conduct interviews and write articles for our employee newsletter. Thanks to her very insightful questions and ability to interpret “engineer speak” into meaningful text, we have some of the highest quality articles that I’ve ever seen in this publication.

Shelly Ryder, Marketing Manager
Buhler Aeroglide
Cary, North Carolina

Sample Articles

2011 YTD Cranberry Dryer Sales Top $5 Million

Traditionally, Americans have enjoyed cranberries only at holiday meals, but in recent decades, leading processors such as Ocean Spray, Mariana Packaging Company, Northland and Decas have introduced a fast-growing array of cranberry products with year-round appeal.

These days, in the United States, only about five percent of cranberries are sold fresh. The rest are processed, usually as juice. Others are frozen, dried, concentrated and powdered. Most customers use our AeroDry multi-stage dryers with bias-cut vibratory feeders and clean-in-place (CIP) wash-down systems to process cranberries.

“With more consumer focus on healthy snacks and the health benefits of cranberries–their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties–more producers are processing them for ingredients and in other foods,” says Market Manager Dave Reynolds, who recently took time out from an engineering meeting to visit a Wisconsin cranberry farm that supplies our customers. Project Director Bryan O’Donnell accompanied him on the trip.

During the past several years, customers have responded to a tight economy by postponing new equipment purchases, sometimes pushing their existing dryers beyond the limits of their design capabilities. “Our customer service staff has played a major role in helping customers keep existing equipment running and performing well,” Dave notes.

So far this year, sales of two cranberry dryers worth more than $5 million signal a shift toward filling pent-up demand for dryer capacity.

“The AeroDry multi-stage dryers we sell to cranberry producers are very large in comparison to a lot of Aeroglide’s equipment,” says Dave. “The fruit dryers we’ve sold so far this year are all over 150 feet long and cost between $1.4 and $3.1 million.”

Both cranberry dryer purchases represent repeat business for Buhler Aeroglide. “Customers buy from us time and again because they know we understand the process and the industry’s sanitary requirements better than any of our competitors,” says Dave.

“Our designs, which we develop in close collaboration with our customers, our reliability and minimal downtime, and our history of exceeding customer expectations with production capacity all are playing a major role in this year’s success.”

Photo captions

7228: While many people think cranberries grow in water, they actually grow on vines planted in sand or peat. Cranberries to be sold fresh are harvested dry, but most to be processed into juice, dried berries and other products are wet-harvested.

7235 or 7254: During his recent visit to a Wisconsin cranberry farm, Market Manager Dave Reynolds found these cranberry beds flooded with water, with the berries floating on top ready for wet-harvesting. In the background, harvested cranberries have been corralled, ready to be conveyed from the bed.

7248: Corralled berries are conveyed from the flooded bed into a tractor trailer, with plant debris diverted to a smaller truck.

7252: During 2010, U.S. growers produced 679.6 million pounds of cranberries worth $456 million. More than half came from this and other Wisconsin marshes. Other leading cranberry-growing states are Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon.

7261: Harvested cranberries receive a final wash-down before shipping.

Bindler PowerShot™

The Bindler PowerShot is a flexible, high-capacity, high-performance machine that deposits blended liquid chocolate into molds that shape it into the tasty tablets, pralines and candy bars we love.

How much do we love it? Worldwide, chocolate accounts for more than $50 billion a year in retail sales, and the industry is steadily growing. The world’s three leading manufacturers, in terms of net sales, are Kraft Foods, Mars and Nestlé.

The top three chocolate-loving countries are Switzerland at 22.36 pounds consumed per person per year, Austria at 20.13 pounds and Ireland at 19.47 pounds. The United States ranks 11th, with average consumption at 11.64 pounds per year.

Currently, 60 percent of the world’s chocolate is refined using Buhler equipment. Buhler owns 50 percent of worldwide market share for conching–a step in the manufacturing process that grinds and smooths the texture of blended cocoa and sugar particles.

The Bindler Powershot depositor works by drawing liquid chocolate from a mass hopper into as many as 400 pistons capable of simultaneously delivering as many as 40 strokes a minute. As the pistons move out and fill, the rotary valve rotates into position to deposit chocolate into the molds.

The PowerShot’s versatility and selection of pistons and depositing molds allow for creating a wide variety of both hollow and solid confections. It precisely deposits chocolate and filling masses of all viscosities, with or without added ingredients.

With its independent touch-screen control mounted directly on the machine, the PowerShot can be successfully integrated into any type plant production line. The PowerShot stores basic settings in its recipe memory, ensuring fast changeovers and dependable product consistency.

Customers especially appreciate the PowerShot’s reliability, easy accessibility for  cleaning and making rapid changeovers, uniformity mass and ingredient distribution, its integrated fault reporting system to alert operators to illogical entries and operational errors, and its advanced safety features.

‘Project Itasca’ Launch Backed by Our Largest-Ever Equipment Investments

The new year marks the company-wide launch of Project Mississippi, named for the mighty, free-flowing river, through which Buhler Aeroglide’s effort to adapt and implement Total Synchro concepts broadens and intensifies.

To support Project Mississippi, manufacturing is launching Project Itasca, a workflow improvement initiative named for Lake Itasca in Minnesota, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. 

“As we’ve seen this past year, Total Synchro concepts are powerful and foundational,” says Mark Paulson, vice-president of operations. “But applying the principles really can’t be done by cut and paste. Each factory is different, so we are launching Product Mississippi company-wide, and Project Itasca within manufacturing, to adapt and implement Total Synchro concepts even more effectively and efficiently here at home.” 

As part of Project Itasca, Buhler Aeroglide will invest $3 million in purchasing and installing new equipment–the single largest investment in company history. At the same time, progressive workflow enhancements will transform manufacturing processes to unprecedented levels of quality, capacity and efficiency. 

Mike Hausfeld, who took over as manufacturing manager in January, is charged with planning and implementing Project Itasca. Mike joined the company 21 years ago as a welder and spent three years on the shop floor before moving into customer service, working his way up from customer service representative to parts manager to director of customer service–a position he’s held since 1997. 

“For me, the return to manufacturing feels like coming home,” says Mike, who spent the last four months of 2011 preparing for his move to the manufacturing management position. “Toward the end of the year, I spent about 30 days in the field, visiting Bühler factories in Switzerland, Germany and India and seeing various aspects of Total Synchro in action. My plans for Project Itasca, which I’ve sketched out through 2015, grew from there.”

Mike’s vision, covering the upcoming four years, is based on guiding principles of involvement, empowerment and development of our manufacturing work force. His ambitious plans integrate proven operational concepts for lean manufacturing, such as takt time, workcells, eight-disciplines problem solving and kanban production management systems with supporting efforts including a housekeeping and safety program, management restructuring and a preventive maintenance program.

Management restructuring, the housekeeping and safety program and initial workflow enhancements will begin early in the new year, with equipment orders placed in the first quarter. New equipment acquisitions include a precision laser cutter, a 750-ton press break, a sheet metal storage unit and a Timesaver deburring and finishing machine.

“We will also be creating two new workcells in the assembly support area–one for bed plates and the other for doors and panels,” says Mike. Within the new workcells, designed to support lean manufacturing concepts, resources will be organized and arranged to improve process flow and minimize the time and effort required to assemble products. 

“We really have to start out at the foundational level and roll these strategic plans out incrementally in the coming weeks, months and years,” adds Mike. “It’s actually a very exciting time in the history of the company, and I’m looking forward to making a real impact.”

“As it unfolds, Project Itasca will position manufacturing for accelerated growth and dramatic increases in efficiency and capacity over time,” says Mark. “It’s one of a number of key pieces that are falling into place now in all areas of the company.”

Update: Project Mississippi and Project Itasca

During 2013, Project Mississippi continued to enhance efficiency and productivity throughout the company—especially in the fabrication area. Workflow improvements in the assembly support area, driven by Project Itasca, neared completion during the year.

“Before Project Mississippi, things were a scattered mess,” said Dan Ellis, who has overseen total synchro implementation for nearly three of his nine years at Aeroglide, “We’ve made a lot of progress. Particularly in the past year, we’ve made changes that have brought us to a complete 180 from how things were before.”

During 2013, on the fabrication side, spaces have been cleaned, cleared and reorganized, and a comprehensive new scheduling system has been put into place.

“Our efficiency improved by leaps and bounds in fabrication last year,” said Dan. “Now everything has its place. Everything is clearly marked on the floor, showing the next place for every job. It’s all in a line in the order we have to run it. Now, we actually have a flow. And the new scheduling system is making us much more efficient.”

Among the most significant changes during 2013, the machine shop was relocated from the assembly side to the fabrication side of the plant. “That was a major undertaking last summer,” said Dan, “but critically important because it not only streamlined the efficiency of the machine shop itself, but pulled it into the flow.”

Also during 2013, job information boards were put in place, listing orders by the date they need to be worked on. “We meet twice a week to discuss the jobs, any problems and how we’re going to fix them,” said Dan. “We document our rework on these boards.”

A master schedule for the laser cutter has also been developed to identify what materials are needed when, virtually eliminating the need for inventory.

A new measurement system was introduced to track key performance indicators in the work cells. “With the KPI system in place, the guys can see from week to week if they’re hitting their performance targets,” Dan noted. “Before they had no clue how they were doing. Now they can get clear feedback. Some are using KPI to challenge themselves to even better performance.”

For the first time since the plant was built, the entire interior was repainted during 2013, and new lighting was installed throughout. “The difference is like night and day,” said Maintenance Manager Rick Palmer. “It’s a lot cleaner, better work environment.”

Also during the year, unused interior railroad tracks were removed. “We had a spur that came through the building so we could load dryers directly into railroad cars,” said Rick. “When trucks became a better way of shipping, we abandoned the line, and the tracks, which were raised above the floor, had been a hindrance ever since.

“Removing the tracks turned out to be a bigger job than expected,” he added. “We assumed the ground under the tracks would be stable, but we ended up having to dig down a couple of feet, backfill it and install a drainage system. Once that was done, we repaved out to the roadway. Now we can utilize that whole area of the building, which is a big step forward.”

Extensive paving during 2013 replaced dirt and crushed rock roads outside the plant. “We eliminated safety issues with carrying materials, and stopped the road dust that was getting into our equipment, causing machine failures,” said Rick. “All that new heavy-duty 5000 PSI concrete is beautiful to us.”

 “Our big push last year was for completion of Project Itasca, and we’re now 99 percent done,” said Rick. “The last large Project Itasca component was the installation of a new bridge crane. That was completed November 5. All that’s left to do now is a punch list of little stuff we can work in.”

Project Mississippi priorities for 2014 include completing the sub-assembly area, integrating the stock room with total synchro and setting up a flow line for the M2M roaster.

“Without Bühler, none of this would have happened,” said Dan. “It’s not just the physical changes to our facility which, from an organizational standpoint, have made it a hundred times better than it used to be. It’s creating a completely new mindset for us.”

Phase II of Project Itasca in Progress

As the third quarter begins, manufacturing is moving forward with Phase II of Project Itasca, which involves the transfer of the machine shop to its new location.

The team charged with planning and implementing the relocation are Assembly Support Manager Jeff Lane, Industrial Engineer Maureen Russell, Maintenance Supervisor Rick Palmer and Machine Shop Supervisor John Ayala.

“Before we could begin moving any equipment, we had to move and consolidate our structural inventory, because we were storing it in the spot where the machine shop was going to be,” says Jeff. “Some of the inventory in storage was unallocated, so as part of the 6S process, we had to sort through and identify what needed to be kept and what needed to be sold back to the supplier or to our outsource vendors.”

By early July, the space had been cleared of inventory and was ready for electrical contractors to install conduit and wiring. “We’re digging a trench in the floors to run the conduit to the machines to keep things neat, clean and safe,” says Industrial Engineer Maureen Russell. “We may have to use some temporary wiring at first, right after the equipment gets moved, until we can get the rigid wiring in place.”

In planning the move, the team conducted a time study on each piece of equipment in the shop to determine usage. Preventive maintenance is being done on the high-usage equipment to be moved to the new shop. All equipment is being painted gray to match equipment in the fabrication area.

“We knew our available space was being cut by at least two-thirds,” explains John. “With the smaller footprint of the new shop, we had to eliminate several of the lower-usage machines. We’re cleaning them up and selling them. We’re also planning for the fabrication area and the machine shop to share one band saw.”

Within the smaller space, capacity of the new machine shop will also be reduced. “We’ve identified our core competencies and are setting up the new shop to allow us to focus on those,” adds John. “We plan to outsource to fill in the gaps.”

The layout of the new machine shop is designed to support efficient work flow. “We did many autocad layouts before we settled on a final version,” says Maureen. “We chose the layout we did because it made the best use of the available space and gave us the best flow of materials into and out of the shop.”

Most of the refurbished equipment is scheduled to be moved the week of July 22. Once the shop is set up, a cross-training program will be implemented.

As a result of the machine shop relocation, additional space will be available for two more assembly lines. “We’re condensing and consolidating other production to the fabrication side of the plant to create more space for assembly,” explains Jeff. “Potentially, we can have nine assembly teams. It’s all part of Aeroglide’s move toward increased standardization and greater efficiency.”

New R&D Group Implements M2M Process

With its strong emphasis on research and development, Bühler has R&D groups in each division and business unit dedicated to bringing innovations into their respective product lines.

Late last year, Buhler Aeroglide established its own dedicated R&D group, appointing Peter Zell as R&D manager. Joining Peter are Mechanical Project Engineers Rusty Jones and Srinivas Jonna. An electrical engineer will join the R&D group later this year.

“In the past, Aeroglide always did product development using order fulfillment resources,” says Peter, who joined Aeroglide in 1996 as a project engineer, then moved to project engineering manager, then to project director.

“If we identified a high-priority development need, we temporarily diverted engineering and design resources from production to development. Or, if we wanted to make an incremental improvement to a particular product feature or function, the development would be done as part of an actual customer order, and then that version of the design would be used on future orders for similar units.

“This approach did result in improvements to our product lines over time, but our ability to innovate intentionally was hampered by the need to rely on resources designated for order fulfillment. Having resources specifically dedicated to research and development will greatly enhance and accelerate innovation in all our product lines.”

In a separate initiative focused primarily on improving sanitation, Food Safety Manager Steve Blackowiak has been working with manufacturing to design and build the Buhler Minneapolis Lab Dryer for the human and pet food markets. “Steve’s group has been doing important product development work,” says Peter. “I’m sure we’ll be integrating their sanitation improvements into other product designs.”

With backing from the Bühler FP group and corporate leadership, Peter and the R&D team are now implementing Bühler’s M2M, or Market to Market process as a framework for successful product development work.

M2M implementation began with business planning and prioritizing a list of prospective projects. “Planning and prioritization are essential for determining how to allocate our development resources,” says Peter, who worked with market managers and Sales Vice President Mark VanBuskirk on this initial phase of M2M.

Preliminary business plans for larger scope prospective projects were made in October and November 2011, with the first internal review completed in December. After a final plan review at the end of March, priorities were set.

As business planning and prioritization progressed, the R&D group was already at work on smaller scope projects, beginning with an enhancement to our oscillating feeders to allow varying oscillation speed throughout the feeder’s sweep. This innovation  permits fine-tuning product delivery to the dryer conveyor, resulting in more consistent product depth and more uniform drying.

Another small-scope project now in process is to address an issue with the doors used on our National dryers in high-temperature applications. A test fixture and prototype doors have been made, with testing scheduled for July.

Among top-priority large-scale projects, the R&D group is leading efforts to design a new nut roaster, standardized to suit a broad range of typical production applications. The new roaster will be designed for production on our synchro lines now being implemented in manufacturing.

Another high-priority project for the R&D group in the coming months focuses on standardizing configurations of our National dryer product line for targeted market segments.

There will also be parallel Buhler Aeroglide R&D work on dryer applications for Chinese and Indian markets. Peter will manage and direct the work, which will be implemented by engineers at Bühler locations in China and India.

“This is an exciting time for product development at Buhler Aeroglide as we implement the M2M process,” says Peter. “With our sharpened focus on research and development, and a proven process to follow, we look forward to bringing true, industry-leading innovations to all our product lines.”

Reorganization Enables Product Innovation, Standardization

In August, Buhler Aeroglide’s Global Sales and Marketing Vice President Mark VanBuskirk and President Jonathan Abbis announced a reorganization of Aeroglide’s Sales and Marketing Departments. The restructured departments now align with Bühler’s M2M, or Market to Market product development process.

“We’ve revamped our sales and marketing organization by introducing essential product management functions,” explains Mark. “The new structure sharpens our focus on innovation and standardization–both fundamental benefits of integrating Bühler’s M2M framework more completely into our operations.”

In the past, Aeroglide carried out product development project-by-project in response to individual customers’ needs. The new organization brings dedicated product managers into the sales and marketing departments, enabling a broader, more comprehensive approach.

“We’ve had marketing communications and sales, but we’ve never had product management at Aeroglide,” says Mark. “A customer would ask for features, and if we hadn’t already developed them for a dryer we’d already built for some other customer, we would custom-engineer a new solution just for that customer. It seemed like every time we sold something, we were creating something new. Just about every job was a custom design. It’s a very inefficient way to do product development. And how do you offer competitive pricing and support products efficiently if everything you do is custom work?

“Product management, which involves understanding of the needs and requirements in primary markets and their sub-segments, is essential to anticipating market trends and proactively developing new products with features that add value, keep us ahead of the competition and justify premium pricing.”

By implementing product management functions to support Bühler’s M2M process throughout the organization, Aeroglide’s product development focus shifts from meeting the needs of individual customers to meeting the needs of entire market segments.

“Instead of discussing with one customer what they need in a dryer and engineering it just for them, we now get input from multiple manufacturers and develop a standard product that can be replicated and adapted to serve multiple customers in that market,” says Mark. “After going through a research and development process based on input from multiple customers representing an entire market, we can develop and offer an innovative standard configuration that’s more cost efficient to build and easier to support.

“With this reorganization, we’ve aligned our sales and marketing department structure to match the way it’s done in other Bühler business units. For Aeroglide, this completes implementation of the M2M process.”

Planning for the reorganization began late last year. “Discussions have been ongoing for a long time, both within Aeroglide and with Bühler, to guide our redesign of our sales and marketing structure,” says Mark. “We had a series of meetings where we laid out all aspects of the M2M process in detail before we finalized and rolled it out.”

Aeroglide’s new emphasis on product management is being led by two newly-appointed product directors. Andy Sharpe is charged with overseeing food and feed markets, with Paul McKeithan serving as Global Sales Manager for Food and Feed Markets. Product Director Paul Branson will handle industrial markets, with Frank Rafter as Global Sales Manager for Industrial Markets. All four report directly to Mark.

In his new product management role, Andy is helping formalize and expedite introduction of Aeroglide’s new sanitary dryer features to a range of targeted food and feed markets, as well as helping introduce the Aerodry Sanitary Dryer to the ready-to-eat cereal market. He is also involved in launching our redesigned and standardized AeroRoast Nut Roaster. Andy, who joined Aeroglide in 1996, remains responsible through 2012 for sales in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region. He and his family have relocated from Europe to Raleigh.

Paul Branson began his career in the drying industry in 1984, when he joined National Drying, acquired by Aeroglide in 2004. Paul’s experience, gained in various senior-level positions in operations, sales and marketing, and process engineering, along with his familiarity with the National product line, primarily used in the industrial market, are key to implementing changes to make the line more competitive as quickly as possible. Paul is based in Philadelphia.

Paul McKeithan joined Aeroglide as a Field Engineer in 1997. Before his appointment as Global Sales Manager, he was Regional Sales Director, Food and Feed, for North and South America. With the August announcement of the reorganization, Paul immediately assumed Paul Branson’s responsibilities for the Asia-Pacific and Americas Food and Feed markets and is working with Andy to assume oversight of the Europe-Middle East-Africa Food & Feed Markets by year-end.

Frank began his career in dryer sales in 1990 with Proctor and Schwarz, joining Aeroglide in 2006. His broad experience in industrial markets, coupled with his familiarity with Aeroglide’s chief competitor, CPM Wolverine-Proctor, uniquely qualify Frank for his new position.

“The new structure has been well-received,” notes Mark. “When we laid it all out, people recognized it as a change that’s been needed for a long time. I think people will appreciate it even more when we have the innovative products and sales increases that show the results of our efforts.”

Major Equipment, Vending Machine Installations Highlight Third Quarter

As the third quarter drew to a close, our new Cincinnati laser cutter and 750-ton Cincinnati hydraulic press brake were delivered as scheduled and expected to be fully operational by early October.

“The new laser cutter installation was complex and took several weeks at pre-commissioning phase,” says Manufacturing Director Mike Hausfeld. “Our operators had to be trained and as we began our trial runs, our programmers had bugs to work out in the software. The press brake installation was much simpler. We’re looking forward to having both pieces of equipment up and running at full production early in the fourth quarter.”

Several older pieces of equipment, including two laser cutters, a shear and several smaller press brakes have been sold. A 500-ton press brake has been relocated to the new bedplate work cell, and a 230-ton press brake moved to the new door and panel work cell. All relocated equipment will receive preventive maintenance before being placed back in service.

Production of the sixth job on the synchro line using the five-takt dryer flow system is expected to be underway by mid-October. “This is the first piece of equipment we’ve produced on the synchro line that was designed in a modular fashion, especially for production on this line, so the flow system process should really take shape on this job,” says Mike.

In this and future synchro line projects, a goal is to eliminate final assembly of the entire dryer on the shop floor. “Ideally, we’ll finish one module and then the next, and after we bolt them together to make sure they fit, we’ll take them apart and ship the first module out,” Mike says. “When we’re sure the second module fits the third, we’ll ship the second one, and so on until the last two modules ship.”

Future synchro line projects will also become more standardized. “As we move toward standardization, all the parts and pieces will be part of one drawing,” says Mike. “We’ll put times for each work center on each drawing and it will be very easy to calculate times on jobs and decide if it makes more sense to build it inside versus outsource it. This won’t happen overnight, but we’re moving in the right direction. One part-one drawing is a superb start.”

Vending machines containing small parts and supplies are now installed on the shop floor, and employees have been issued personal access codes. Maureen Russell, who worked with a supplier to install the machines, is training employees to use them. “The new vending machines let us manage and control our inventory much more efficiently and effectively,” says Mike. “It’s too early to calculate, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see savings of 25 to 30 percent.”

The welding certification project has broadened to include fitting competence. Baseline testing will be done internally. “We have a test sample prototype designed and two test models we’re going to put together so we can evaluate two skills at the same time,” says Mike. He expects initial testing to take about two months.

As the 6S housekeeping and safety program continues, a warehouse in back of the factory has been cleaned out and is now being used to receive and hold incoming goods for quality inspection and short-term storage, if needed, before being moved to the shop floor. “After the initial quality inspection, anything that won’t be used within two weeks gets moved to off-site storage,” says Mike. “The idea is to keep unused parts and supplies from piling up. Longer term, our pre-planning meetings will help our procurement people time orders even more precisely, so  we’ll see an increasingly smooth, steady flow from receipt of goods to quality inspection to utilization.”

6S project leader Sharon McDonald from IT reports disposal during the third quarter of obsolete inventory acquired with the purchase of National Dryer in 2004. The project to scan and dispose of hard copies of more than 100,000 documents is nearing completion, with about 30,000 left to be processed. Procedures are now in place to prevent build-up of new paper documents. “We don’t print purchase orders any more,” says Sharon. “We email and file them as PDFs. When we receive paper correspondence, like invoices from vendors, we now scan and file those as they come in and immediately shred the paper.

“We’ve also been doing quite a bit of clearing of digital files on our network during the past six months,” adds Sharon. “We’ve deleted 12 gigabytes of redundant PowerPoint presentations.”

Also as part of 6S, the Beryl Road warehouse has been cleaned out and a gatekeeper appointed to manage storage there in the future. Obsolete steel inventory on the shop floor is continuing to be reduced and unused storage racks disposed of.

For All Kinds of Products, Our Feeders Deliver

No matter the industry or production process, all products must be delivered and evenly distributed in the dryer using a feeder.

“At Aeroglide, we offer them all–oscillating belt feeders, spout feeders, hopper feeders, hydraulic feeders, sweep feeders, bias cut vibratory feeders–to name a few,” says Dave Collier, project engineer for the Parts and Refurbishments Group. “All our feeders do a great job of evenly depositing the product while requiring minimal maintenance.”

At initial dryer installation, many customers start with a basic feeder design, tweaked and adjusted to fit their specific needs. Later, as their needs and priorities change, customers often upgrade to more sophisticated feeding systems.

“Our high-end feeders cost more, but they have much more flexibility in them,” says Dave. “Customers sometimes change their process to run a wider variety of products or production rates. Each of those situations requires a different feeder set-up. Some of our top-of-the-line feeders have programmable controls to store different feeder adjustments as recipes. This allows a faster changeover between products as the feeder or spreader can return to the proper settings automatically.”

According to Dave, one noteworthy recent development in our feeder design is the ability to adjust spout feeders while they are in operation. “Before, it was too dangerous to adjust them while they were operating,” he explains. “That made feeder adjustment time-consuming and costly. Our Aeroflex feeders save time and money, and consequently, get adjusted properly more often than traditional feeders.”

Another recent innovation is adding programmable controls to our hydraulic feeders. “This allows a more precise delivery of the product to the dryer bed as well as delivery of out-of-spec product to the side rather than sending bad product through the dryer,” notes Dave.

Aeroglide feeders can be retrofitted to any brand or type of dryer, bringing new versatility, speed and efficiency to customers’ production lines. “In many instances,” notes Dave, “where a customer needs an increase in production, they don’t need to invest in a new dryer, but can achieve the results they want at a much lower cost by upgrading the feeder system.”