The JBW lift system.

From a global perspective, the industrial mixing market can be as daunting as the broad base of customers it represents. Industrial mixers are used in many different markets, including paint, ink, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, cement, dyes and many subset markets within those markets.

The size of the global industrial mixer market can only be approximated, and that can only be done by utilizing data from various manufacturers of industrial mixers. There are hundreds of mixer manufacturers throughout the world. Some are owned by large holding companies that have many diversified product lines. Some mixer manufacturers are privately owned, while some are public. Most mixer manufacturers with total sales of $10 million or less are privately held and are ripe for buyouts by conglomerates that are looking for diversity.

By studying various reports and much Internet research it has been estimated that conservatively speaking the overall mixer market size could be around $600 million. A more optimistic view is that this market is around $900 million. Sales in the industrial mixing market show Lightnin mixers, Nettco mixers, Philadelphia mixers and ITT Flygt mixers having the larger percentage of market share - between 10 to 20 percent each. Smaller mixing companies make up the difference.

There are many types of industrial mixers, including:

  • pulsed mixing;
  • sluicing mixing;
  • jet mixing;
  • wave mixing machines;
  • airlift circulators;
  • wave machines;
  • sonic probes; and
  • agitator mixing.

Control panel.

Agitator Mixing

There are several other types of industrial mixing procedures, but the above list represents the most common. This article is concerned with the last one, agitator mixing. An agitator type of mixer uses a propeller at the end of a shaft that is attached to a motor. The mixing is done by the rapid turning of the propeller. The propeller is also called an impeller paddle and, sometimes, it is referred to as the agitator. This is the most common form of industrial mixing.

Around the globe, agitator mixers, or mechanical agitation, is the most common mixing technique in the liquid processing industry. This type of mixing is less expensive, offers more portability, is more easily available and offers many different variations for industry to choose from.

The following is a simplified and basic introduction to some types of agitator mixers available.

  • High-Shear Mixers

    High-shear mixers use a high-speed rotating impeller mounted on a shaft. They provide hydraulic and mechanical shear of the product, resulting in physical changes to the product. These are used in the manufacturing of emulsions, dispersions and/or homogeneous products.

  • Side-Entering Mixers

    Often side-entering mixers are mounted at the bottom of the tank and, operating at a reduced speed, these mixers use an impeller that creates a liquid jet that causes motion throughout the tank.

  • Small, Portable Mixers

    Small, portable mixers are most often lightweight enough to be moved from one tank to another. Generally they are 5 horsepower or less. The most common and older technology mixers are clamped to the side of the tank and operated somewhere between 1200 RPM to 1800 RPM. They can have more than one propeller/impeller mounted to the shaft. Air-driven motors are lighter weight and more portable.

    Some older-style mixers use a gear reducer, which results in a heavier mixer and can introduce messy, unwanted oil spills into the product. There are other ‘so-called’ portable mixers with heavy electric motors that make them inappropriate for employees to manage easily.

    Many coating, adhesive, cosmetic and pharmaceutical manufacturers are realizing that if they can keep one occupational injury from occurring, they can reduce cost since time off of work, funds for health care and workers compensation are very costly. A true portable mixer should be lightweight, or the price could be very costly to the manufacturer.

  • Turbine Mixers

    Turbine mixers are generally centered in the tank. They can use one or more impellers and are mounted on a shaft that hangs from the motor, which is mounted to a support beam, lid or bridge. Turbine mixers can be used in either enclosed or open-style tanks. Some are operated at reduced speed by a gear that is enclosed and are used to mix low- to medium-viscosity products.

  • Static Mixers

    Static mixers use mounted fins or baffles in pipes where the product flows through, which results in turbulence creating a mixing effect.

    There are several other types of agitator mixers available. There are glass-lined mixers that are used in many pharmaceutical companies; dry solid mixers used for powder coatings; and special-purpose mixers, which are used for difficult mixing applications, especially for high-viscosity fluids and products that do not move easily.

  • The JBW Drum Mixer.

    Portable Drum Mixer

    JBW Systems, Inc., located in central Ohio and established in 1990, is an industrial mixer manufacturer that appears to have the latest in patented mixing technology. They have a truly lightweight, portable drum mixer that is made of aluminum, weighing less than 30 pounds. JBW’s mixing product line falls into several categories of agitator-based mixing; turbine, portable, low shear, as well as special-purpose mixing. JBW Systems designs custom-made mixers according to the customer’s specifications.

    The secret to JBW’s success is that it does one thing – mixing; and it does it well. The company has outstanding customer service and responds within 24 hours to its customers’ needs. Approximately 95% of orders are shipped within 48 hours with the exception of mixers that are custom-made to the customer’s specifications. This is the reason for the worldwide success and reputation of its mixing products.

    James (Jim) Watkins is the president of JBW Systems, Inc., and holds the patent for the JBW mixer line. For over 25 years Jim worked for paint manufacturers. After many years in the paint industry, Jim realized that good paint was shipped to the customer, but by the time the paint was ready to use, it had settled, and the mixers available were not doing the job and/or it took too much time to mix the product. In production, time is money.

    JBW’s different conical turbine impellers.

    JBW Impeller

    In the late 1970s, Jim began to form ideas for the perfect mixing system. In 1990 the opportunity arose, and he invented the JBW Impeller. What makes this impeller unique is that it is not flat like a boat propeller and it does not collapse. The JBW Impeller has five blades welded at an equal distance from a machined top and attached to a bottom rim. It looks like a turbine, conical in appearance, but mixes like a pump. First it provides lift to the settled particles on the bottom, then it disperses these particles throughout the solution/container. The result is superior agitation.

    The mixing action is low shear, which allows the mixing of shear-sensitive products. The impeller is perfect for products with 8000 cps or less. The JBW Impeller pulls two or more times its diameter and consumes less energy than the older, conventional, ‘clamped-to-the side’ mixers that have been on the market for many decades.

    Eventually after the initial success of the impeller, by customer demand, JBW Systems realized it needed to come up with a complete mixing system. At that time the impeller was placed on the shaft of other systems. JBW did not want its impeller mounted with a clamp to the side of the container and ‘angled’ in. The JBW Impeller works best when placed in the center of the drum with the open end down where it can “lift” the heavier settlement. In that position the JBW Impeller acts as a pump.

    It took several months of R&D, and finally the JBW Portable Drum Mixer was introduced to the industrial marketplace. A patent was also sought and granted for the unique product line of JBW Mixers.

    Tote Mixer

    The Tote Mixer is used in large containers and tote tanks. It has a unique design that allows the JBW Drum Mixer to be transformed into a Tote Mixer by adding various extensions and impellers that work together to form a vortex for superior agitation. Both the Drum Mixer and the Tote Mixer are equipped with a 4-horsepower air motor mounted to a patented lid. This lid has hinged flaps that can be raised for insertion of pumps and inspection of the product. These mixers have been sold globally since 1992 and have a reputation that is outstanding. To date there has been very little advertisement other than ‘word-of-mouth’ of customers who see the benefits of this unique mixing system.

    For the first 10 years, JBW Systems focused its sales within the paint industry, largely to paint manufacturers and to the coil industry. Several years ago JBW Systems began to branch into other industries: chemical, adhesives and sealants, wood, paper, ink, food, cosmetic, pharmaceuticals, cleaning fluids and sealants for parking lots, to name but a few.

    Diversified Product Mix

    By branching out into unknown territory and new applications for mixing, JBW realized there was a need to diversify its mixing products. It introduced the JBW Lift System about four years ago. The Lift System is a drum mixer mounted on a stainless steel lid. The lid is attached to a pneumatic lift by arms and braces. It has control equipment and safety equipment installed. The JBW Lift can be ordered with or without a double diaphragm pump and a dispensing hose and nozzle. This unit was well received by the paint industry and remains a mainstay. The Lift System is shipped ready to use. It must be fastened to the floor and attached to an air line with a minimum of 90 psi at the mixing station. If there is not enough air, JBW recommends that the customer increase the airline supply from a quarter inch up to a half inch.

    At a trade show in Chicago where the Lift System was on display it became clear that some customers wanted to use the JBW Mixer for use in the food industry. JBW began manufacturing ‘Food Grade’ mixing equipment and supplying it as a ‘special order’ item.

    The past two years have shown an increase in the type of mixers that JBW manufactures. There is a niche for JBW Tote Mixers for use in the special six-inch openings. JBW now manufactures the JBW Tote - 6 Mixer with a slimmer version of the original JBW Impellers. This has become one of the most-popular and sought-after products manufactured by JBW Systems, Inc.

    Recently a well-known aluminum manufacturer who has been using JBW industrial mixers for over 15 years called and requested a mixer made of aluminum. JBW complied and now offers an aluminum version of the previous stainless steel mixer. The weight is remarkably reduced from 46 pounds down to 25 pounds, which can be a key factor for employee occupational claims and/or injuries. Now aluminum mixers are part of the growing product line at JBW Systems.

    Bung/Drum Mixer

    For 15 years JBW thought about a small niche market for mixing through the tiny three-inch opening in drums known as the bung hole. Every now and then an application would come along, but only in small quantities and not enough to begin production. In mid 2006 someone called saying they could use almost 300 mixers for use through a bung hole. Customers around the world are dissatisfied with the poor performance of ‘bung-hole’ mixers. Within 30 days after the request, JBW responded with the much smaller version of the original Impeller for use through bung holes. This impeller is the reason the JBW Bung/Drum Mixer works better than any other industrial mixer for use in bung holes.

    There are two versions of this unique bung hole mixer manufactured by JBW Systems, Inc. One is the JBW Bung/Drum Mixer .75 and the other is the JBW Bung/Drum Mixer 1.5. The difference in the two versions is that one utilizes a .75 horsepower air motor and the other utilizes a 1.5 horsepower air motor. Both versions can be used with the addition of a second impeller (depending on the application) for mixing higher viscosity products.

    Not only did JBW Systems initiate many different products in 2006, but it moved its corporate headquarters to a new building in Westerville, OH. The new building is a 10,000-square-foot facility with the capability to double in size. At this location the company is capable of producing 20,000-plus units per year.

    The patented JBW mixing products are all produced, fabricated and assembled in the United States. JBW focuses on customer satisfaction, turn-around time of 48 hours after receipt of orders (except custom-designed mixers), and an extremely high standard of quality control.

    JBW Systems sells its industrial agitator style mixers direct to industry. For more information, visit, call 614/882.5008,, or fax 614/882.5004.