Efficiency IncreasesSeveral factors can affect ink manufacturers’ bottom line. Ecological requirements have increased, forcing ink manufacturers to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations. A new dispersion line for black printing ink has been in operation in Germany for over a year. Buhler supplied the plant and the process expertise for the Swiss technology company, which now achieves an annual output of 10,000 metric tons of black ink. The plant requires minimal space — only 300 square meters. Systematic fine tuning of the production process allowed for efficient production, despite the more difficult general conditions. The product formulas and processes were perfectly matched.
The minimum workforce required also contributes to the overall efficiency of the plant. A few years ago, the rule of thumb was that one employee was needed for making 500 tons per year. With the new dispersion line, two employees can handle an annual output of 10,000 tons. It is even possible to run the plant unattended during two work shifts at a three-shift operation, due to the fully automatic control. In addition, the control system allows remote control and is linked with the SAP system.
Energy SavingsConsiderable savings have also been achieved in the field of energy consumption. About half the energy input can be used a second time in the form of thermal energy, such as for heating tanks. The uniform flow of energy in the dispersion line can prevent peak loads.
A high priority was also given to plant safety. The entirely enclosed design of the line prevents employee exposure to noise or dust emissions, such as during pigment handling. The automatic maintenance system ensures maximum production reliability.
More Choices for Raw MaterialsPrinting ink manufacturers are challenged by raw material price increases. The choice of beaded carbon blacks is an important economic factor. Buhler was able to improve this situation with its new low-energy agitating technology. Besides allowing low-cost operation, the new system also permits flexible raw-material selection.
The trend toward maximizing the flexibility of raw material selection in the ink industry is also a factor. The principle of pregrinding and final grinding by means of a K240 high-capacity bead mill, the “tandem” system, offers the ideal preconditions for achieving this flexibility.