In the context of modernization of the national sugar industry, Sucroalcoholera del Chira (Caña Brava) Co., Ltd., belonging to the Romero Group, has implemented – since February 2018 – the most modern system for measuring sugar color online as well as automatic growth control that is the critical part of the sugar manufacturing process.
The online systems, the colorimeter Colobserver® and the pan camera Crystobserver®, are manufactured by ITECA SOCADEI Co., Ltd. of France. The Colobserver® measures the color of wet or dry sugar online and automatically detects non conformities while the microscope, Crystobserver® follows the crystal growth inside the pans and provides statistical information in real time.
1. Online Colorimeter Colobserver®
Producing sugar according to the standards demanded by the market is the priority in setting the production parameters. The Colobserver® has three mandatory advantages to meet these standards:
● Ensure ICUMSA color uniformity in accordance with the established and requested parameters both in white sugar and brown sugar.
● It is an element that reduces the consumption of water in centrifuges considering the ratio of one liter of water to remelt three kilos of sugar.
● It is a quality control element that identifies and eliminates non conformities by diverting them before entering the dryer.
The online colorimeter is placed above any type of conveyor (belt, vibrating conveyor, drag or screw).
This allows a measurement of dry sugar color (after the dryer), or wet sugar at the end of a line of centrifugals, as in this particular case. Different qualities can be followed with the same equipment. As this technology uses image treatment and a 4K camera, it also records all data, displays alarm videos, detects brown sugar spots (and deviates sugar when a nonconformity is detected) or uses the video to optimize maintenance.
The color measurements can be used to optimize the washing time and thus avoid remelting good quality sugar which brings a very fast return on investment. In this way, the equipment is paid in a few months or a few weeks.
Based on the scheme a liter of water remelts 3 Kg of good quality sugar that must be forwarded to the process to be treated again, over washing is associated to considerable costs for the factory. The colorimeter has significantly reduced this water consumption because in some cases up to 6 liters of water was used to dissolve a kilo of sugar. Adjusting this water consumption in a very efficient way to the production needs also reduced the level of energy and reduced production costs very noticeably.
2. Pan camera Crystobserver®
It allows following the crystal growth in real time. It can be used:
● Before seeding to monitor the quality of the syrup (Detection and quantification of super coarses, air bubbles or contaminants)
● During the seeding phase to ensure that it enters the pan at the right time, with good size and volume.
● During the granulation phase to monitor the growth of the crystals, measuring the CV, the MA and the number of fines (detection of false grains).
4K cameras give very sharp images, which is very interesting for detecting very small crystals (fines) in the middle of larger crystals. The overall image quality being higher, the statistical calculation (MA, CV, number of fines) is also improved; High resolution video also facilitates the visualization of crystals.
This has made it possible to produce a massecuite with a better quality (more homogeneous crystals) in the seeding pan, more stable regardless of the quality of the syrup or the operator handling the pan. Here are the main savings:
● A better massecuite quality allows for better centrifugation, less remelt and an overall production increase of 20%
● In some cases where the pans were over washed, steam consumption was lowered by 10%. With the detection of super coarse crystals, the pan camera can detect whether the pan is washed properly and lower the amount of steam needed.
● A better seed quality – optimized size with a better CV allows obtaining more crystals at the end. It can go up to a 10% production increase.
● The reduction of the strike time also allows to extract more sugar per day and to increase production.
In conclusion, ITECA SOCADEI has already positioned itself as a provider of the highest technology for this type of applications. With this example at Caña Brava – Peru, it demonstrated the rapid return of investment that these instruments brought to the factory.