Case Study – Seeing the Light


Greaves Client-

Unigel is a leading player in the global expansion of  optic fiber data cables.

The company produces filling gels for insulating and “water-blocking” optical fiber cables – especially relevant in ensuring cable efficiency and reliability. Unigel has recently extended its existing UK and US manufacturing capability by opening a new factory Malaysia.

Unigel engineers had identified inefficiencies in parts of their process, therefore they turned to Greaves for a mixing solution that delivers product consistency and process efficiency across all its sites

 

Project brief

Unigels’s Ady Chisholm summarised the challenge as follows:-

“We dissolve granulated polymer in hot oil as part of our manufacturing process. This is the key stage to determine batch times.

Historically we have used top mounted high shear mixers in vessels with a typical working capacity of 2000ltr+.

We have encountered problems with previous tank designs with dead spots and lack of flow through the tank, as a result we were experiencing inefficient dissolving of the polymer granules. So when the project for the Malaysian plant got underway we decided to contact Greaves for a solution”

The Solution

A thorough review of  gel mixing processes in Unigel’s  existing factories highlighted an opportunity to improve efficiency by adding a mass flow turbine.

Lab trials confirmed this approach and Unigel accepted Greaves’s recommendation to do a full scale test by upgrading an existing process tank in their US factory. This test delivered in a 25% reduction in process time and gave the customer confidence to roll out the same design in new equipment.

Greaves designed two 2000ltr working capacity process tanks for Unigels new Malaysia plant. Each tank has a high shear mixer, with a head designed to increase flow, as well as a second incorporator to assist flow and remove dead spots where polymer can agglomerate on the surface.

Unigel have since decided to add another  50% higher capacity machine to the Malaysian factory.

Outcome

Unigel are now  achieving consistent quality product and increased efficiency across manufacturing sites in US, Europe and Asia.

Unigels’s Ady Chisholm  commented :-

“Our collaboration with Greaves is delivering great results. All our factories have seen production efficiency gains. We now have confidence in consistent product quality across sites and batch sizes. An additional production line in Malaysia is now being planned and we have naturally asked Greaves to provide a design. The new process tank will have a 3500ltr working volume”

 

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