“CMC analysis equipment removed human variation from our analysis”

CP Kelco is the world’s leading manufacturer of carboxymethyl cellulose or CMC. CMC is used in the industry as thickening and binding agent, such as for herbed salad dressings and papers. Previously, visual assessment was also used for analyzing the quality of CP Kelco’s CMC powder. Now, this job is taken care of by the analyzer supplied by Protacon, providing reliable results on a 24/7 basis.

Challenge:
Suitable analysis equipment was not available on the market

CMC has several applications; for example, it is utilized in the mining, paper, and food industries as filler material. CMC powders with different particle sizes are needed for different applications. For example, the CMC powder used in food must usually have a finer particle size compared to the other sectors of industry.

– Previously, we analyzed the quality of CMC by visual inspection methods. This caused variation in the results depending on the day and the analyst. Since we did not achieve consistent repeatable results, it was also difficult to improve the product and production with regard to this, explains Simo Mäntymaa, Quality Manager at CP Kelco.

CP Kelco investigated analyzers that were readily on the market but none of them seemed to fully meet their needs.

– All devices seemed to be suited for analyzing a certain type of CMC but not a material consisting of several different particle sizes. This is why we decided to cooperate with Protacon to develop a solution that would perfectly suit us, Mr. Mäntymaa says.

At this stage already, I can say that the equipment is a great improvement to our earlier analysis and provides us with consistent results.

Read about the project in brief

Solution:
The analyzer designed by Protacon helps develop the product and production

The CMC analyzer supplied by Protacon measures the quality of material with a machine vision system. A sample collected from each CMC batch is scanned by the analyzer on different sides more than 150 times. The equipment determines the quality of CMC and stores the result in a database. The process takes about seven minutes and the results are easy to review via analysis software.

– The analysis equipment provides results that are more reliable than the human eye helping us develop the product and its production. It does not reduce the number of employees as such but decreases uncertainty in quality assessment and thereby facilitates work. Our employees have given very good feedback on the ease-of-use of the equipment, Mr. Mäntymaa says.

"The analysis equipment provides results that are more reliable than the human eye helping us develop the product and its production."
Simo Mäntymaa, CP Kelco

Consistent results for CMC analysis

The project started with a pre-research and a design stage for defining, together with the customer, the measurement method to be used in the equipment. The equipment has been installed and commissioned to the customer.

– I have only positive feedback to give on the project. The schedules were kept, we were regularly updated on the progress, we were listened to, and we also did a lot of brainstorming together. At this stage already, I can say that the equipment is a great improvement to our earlier analysis and provides us with consistent results, Mr. Mäntymaa summarizes.

Simo Mäntymaa

Quality Manager,
CP Kelco

Project in brief

1

The analysis equipment scans the CMC powder more than 150 times on different sides within 7 minutes repeatably and systematically

2

The system improves the traceability of the product

3

Product quality measurement is no longer based on human visual assessment but relies on a precise result provided by a machine vision system

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