By installing wear-resistant coatings, processing equipment will withstand abrasion from the coarse sugar cane. (Image source: Castolin Eutectic)

Castolin Eutectic’s technical lead, Raul Amor explains how excessive wear can be avoided to ensure that critical sugar processing machines will remain in service throughout the harvest

Sugar cane processors face the challenge that cane is extremely tough and can damage processing equipment. Components in harvesters, feed systems, knives and hammers in defibering units and crushers can all wear out quickly and even break down. But there is a solution: wearfacing coatings protect equipment from the damage caused by sugar cane. The benefits are that equipment will extract sugar more efficiently, last longer and need fewer repairs.

Sugar is big business and it is growing bigger. According to Fortune Business Insights, the worldwide sugar market is expected to grow to US$46.56bn by 2029, with operators in Asia Pacific having the biggest share of the market. Typically, mills process between 10,000 to 45,000 tons of sugar cane per day. They need heavy industrial machinery – and a lot of it – to do this. However, excess wear and breakages can stop production. This can be expensive due to repair costs, downtime and lower yields. 

Overcoming abrasion at every processing step

Abrasion from sugar cane, stones and earth can cause excess wear on washing, chopping, defibering and crushing systems. Wearfacing coatings can overcome this to enable operators to extract more sugar cane with less downtime. One particularly vulnerable area is rollers in cane crushers, which experience wear and breakages on their teeth. Being made of cast iron, the rolls need particular care. To prevent cracks forming, specialist welding electrodes for cast iron should be used.

It is important for the electrode material to have high hardness and corrosion resistance, which will provide additional wear resistance and ensure a long service life for the rollers. For rollers that experience a lot of damage from rocks and soil, some wearfacing materials offer better resistance to impact.

Wearfacing coatings can build the teeth sides and tips to their original shape so that the crusher will work more efficiently for higher yield. Several passes can be applied to rebuild the teeth with a serrated teardrop profile. This can even be done with an automated welding system to ensure uniform size and spacing between teardrops. It is also possible to apply a top layer of dots onto the sides of teeth while a roller is turning. This creates a rough surface that maximises juice extraction.

Case study: cost savings in action

Burning bagasse can also cause excess wear on fans, tubes and ducts. At one sugar cane mill, a boiler induced draft fan was suffering severe erosion caused by unburned bagasse and soil. These had begun to wear down important sections of the blades until, gradually, the entire rotor wore down. For an idea of the potential impact on production, the plant had four boilers, and each one with a fan.

In a previous attempt to repair the fan, a wearfacing had been applied by electrode welding in one area of the blade where wear had begun to affect the fan. However, this did not last. As an alternative, a Castolin Eutectic engineer applied an arc spray coating based on a 10 mil Arc 500 wire and 20 mil Arc 595 wire. This doubled the rotor lifespan without increasing the weight of the rotor or affecting its balance. 

The result: a more profitable production line

By installing wear-resistant coatings, processing equipment will withstand abrasion from the coarse sugar cane. By avoiding such wear and tear, equipment can last a whole milling season without downtime for repairs. Uninterrupted, each milling season will be more productive, and ultimately more profitable.

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RevoPortioner Drum Washer 700 and 1000. (Image source: Marel)

Closely aligned with their sustainability goals, Marel's engineers have launched the new RevoPortioner Drum Washer which significantly reduces water and energy consumption, while giving solid cleaning results

In comparison with the previous washing process, the new drum washer has been found to consume 69% less water and up to 53% less energy, thus translating into the lowest water usage in drum washing technology.

The latest softwarre version of the drum washer ensures a high-tech management of the completely automated washing programme, which makes smarter use of water in the washing unit, while achieving the same cleaning results. Once the drum is lifted out of the RevoPortioner and placed into the drum washing unit, the remainder of the cleaning process including the addition of the required dosage of disinfectant, detergent and water, is fully automated.

The cleaning programme spans the entire width of the drum, effectively covering all corners and edges of the molds, thereby ensuring perfect release of the formed products in the next processing round. To efficiently control energy and water consumption, the RevoPortioner Drum Washer is equipped with a new user-friendly HMI screen which enables easy set-up of the washing programme. This new software allows processors to access detailed information on the system’s touchscreen, including the real-time progress of the washing process. 

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LEMKEN utilises the additional function particularly in the areas of stubble cultivation and sowing. (Image source: LEMKEN)

Agricultural technology specialists KRONE and LEMKEN are utilising the front attachment space to significantly expand the range of application for their autonomous process units

With their joint 'Combined Powers' project, the two companies are focussing on not only the development of autonomous process units, but also the associated work processes by carrying out additional practical deployments at home and abroad. 

The functionality of the autonomous process unit has been significantly enhanced by the integration of a front linkage with PTO shaft, which means that two separate, intelligent attachment spaces are now available. This combination can be used profitably in both grassland and arable farming. For grassland specialist KRONE, for example, the use of a front-rear combination significantly improves mowing efficiency. LEMKEN, on the other hand, utilises the additional function particularly in the areas of stubble cultivation and sowing where rollers and front hoppers can now be easily carried and used.

The VTEs (autonomous process units) were further developed, taking into account ease of maintenance, practicality and optimisation of the sensor carriers. Another highlight is the improvement in the diesel-electric drive. The new generation of machines retains its power output of 170 kW / 230 hp and continues to feature four-wheel steering with large tyres for maximum tractive power and minimum ground pressure.

The advanced autonomous tractor units from KRONE and LEMKEN enable large-scale practical trials and significantly improve the reliability of autonomous processes. Moreover, the two companies rely on open interfaces and are in lively dialogue with other implement manufacturers in order to exploit synergies and create added value for the customer. By closely cooperating with practising farmers, both companies are aiming to further develop their product and make it marketable as quickly as possible. 

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Robots will assist workers in the agriculture sector, not replace them. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Leading data and analytics company, GlobalData forecasted a 17% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by the robotics industry, which is expected to grow from US$63bn in 2022 to to US$218bn in 2030

As climate change and labour shortages continue to impact the global agriculture sector, the robotics industry is lending ahend to help agriculture companies tackle these challenges by automating machines and supporting vertical farming. GlobalData's latest Thematic Intelligence report, 'Robotics in Agriculture,' reveals how robotics is helping to achieve precision agriculture and support workers in a new agricultural revolution.

Robots are seen as the future of agriculture, possessing the ability to learn the growing patterns of specific produce. Upon integration of artificial intelligence (AI), the data obtained by agricultural robots can be efficiently used to improve farm management strategies. A plethora of traditional agricultural companies have also began hiring and innovating in robotics, while also entering into partnerships with startups to support labour and boost agricultural productivity.

“Robots can carry out the strenuous and monotonous tasks that lead to injuries and fatigue," said associate Thematic Intelligence Analyst at GlobalData, Holly Anness-Bradshaw. The agriculture industry is investing and innovating in many parts of the robotics industry, including drones, field robots, and robotics intelligence. Robots can be found on vineyards, with Burro’s robots helping workers carry up to 500 pounds of crops around fields and back to sorting houses.”

Russell Finex offers 90 years of global specialisation in sieving and filtration equipment. (Image source: Russell Finex)

Milhans, a leading nut product producer, experienced a return on investment in just eight months by adopting high-temperature self-cleaning filters for their cooking oil recovery process

By replacing their 80-micron paper filtration system with a 50-micron self-cleaning filter, Milhans overcame challenges such as downtime, inconsistent filtration quality, and low throughput. 

The solution seamlessly integrated with their production process, offering benefits such as:
• Enhanced productivity by minimising downtime and automating processes
• Improved filtration quality and throughput rates with finer micron filtration and a self-cleaning design
• Operator safety with an enclosed design, reducing exposure to hot oil
• Achieved ROI in just eight months, solely by eliminating the need for replacement paper filter cartridges

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