The number of dairy products available to consumers has exploded in recent years. Consumers are interested in new and innovative products that not only taste good, but provide health benefits and are readily available. The constant influx of new products means more opportunities for the dairy industry, along with challenges.

Even for the most experienced processing professional, technology moves quickly and the choice of mixers continues to expand. In the majority of applications, blending is the most important process to increase the value of the product

Blending a precise mix of multiple ingredients, which can include dry powders and different oil types as well as liquid milk or whey products, requires gentle and effective mixing technologies to process these complex formulations with consistency and reliability.


Ribbon mixers

Among the many options of mixers, ribbon mixers (or blenders) are standard, as a basic industrial mixing machine which consists of a trough-shaped shell with a semicircular bottom, fitted with a horizontal longitudinal shaft. Mounted arms support a combination of ribbon blades, paddles or helical screws set at a close clearance to the semicircular mixer body so that no layer of material remains on the bottom of the mixer. The most effective design of ribbon layout is the double spiral in which the outer ribbon moves the product in one direction and the inner ribbon moves in the opposite direction.

The ribbons rotate and move materials both radially and laterally to insure thorough blends in short cycle times. Ribbon agitators are used for blends that will be between 40% and 70% of the rated capacity of the ribbon blender.

The Jaygo Double Ribbon Blender is a horizontal mixer used for a variety of dry, liquid or slurried products. These versatile mixers are US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 3A Dairy accepted designs.

The double ribbon mixing elements and “U” shaped mixing trough combine to provide an efficient mixing system utilizing the outer ribbon to move material toward the discharge and the inner ribbon to move material in the opposite direction. The dual motion of the product back and forth combined with rotation provides fast and efficient mixing and blending.

The ribbons are welded to support arms on a single rotating shaft which is supported by dust-proof tapered roller bearings external to the mix trough. The ribbon assembly is internally threaded to shaft stub ends for sanitary designs. Chemical and non-sanitary applications are provided with flanged shaft ends. These designs facilitate removal of the ribbon assembly.

Munson Ribbon blenders feature stationary U-shaped vessels with flat cover sections on top and a discharge valve on the bottom, and a single, horizontally-oriented shaft rotating on external bearings, with radial arms supporting ribbon, paddle or plow agitator elements, each of which offers distinct benefits across a diverse range of applications.

The Kemutec Gardner L series 50L horizontal ribbon mixer is designed for the rapid and efficient blending of powders and granular materials. They are small and compact batch ribbon mixers that feature a full-length top cover opening for maximum access. The interrupted spiral ribbon agitator is easily removed for cleaning and they can be fitted with a large range of outlet valves for controlled flow from the mixer. Kemutec is part of the Schenck Process Group.


Fluid and powder mixers

Mixing powders into liquids without the proper shear can result in unmixed ingredients and long mix times. Powder blenders can blend solids with solids, as well as solids with low or high percentages of liquids to produce smooth pastes or slurries.

Ampco Applied Products’ Powder-max reduces processing time and provides optimal product consistency with no batch size limitations. An innovative design allows PM Powder Mixers to quickly blend wet and dry ingredients in a single, fully portable unit. The Powder-max combines Ampco’s SP Series liquid ring pump and the SBH Shear Blender in-line to facilitate limitless production runs. Five standard models are available and the Powder-max can be customized for a multitude of processing requirements.

Designed as a high speed, high shear mixer and emulsifier for continuous processing, the Admix Dynashear sets the standard for inline mechanical mixers. Constructed of 316 stainless steel its unique dual stage axial and radial heads provide optimal throughput and flow. It is ideal for fully dispersing ingredients in order to make uniform ice cream, flavored milks, creamers, yogurt, dips and sour cream.

The Fristam Powder Mixer is known for providing quick and efficient powder induction and dispersion into a liquid stream, often on the first pass. The key is the higher level of agitation the FS Shear Blender, a Fristam component in the powder mixer, provides. The FS Shear Blender uses high tip speeds and close clearances to create effective, highly turbulent mixing.

Some manufacturers use a batch process to mix inclusions into finished product. This can sometimes reduce the viscosity of the base product.

The multifunctional Batch Formula Pro high-shear mixer with vacuum from GEA, introduces powder under vacuum below the liquid surface. This instantly wets and deaerates the powder, thereby creating a uniform, homogeneous, highly stable product with a long shelf-life. The benefit of introducing oil directly into the high shear mixing device is the production of very small oil droplets that contribute to a stable, consistent emulsion.

The dairy industry is forever changing, driven by the demands of consumer trends. When it comes to making investments into crucial equipment, such as mixers, processors should seek out experts to determine and select the best technology for their operations.