Extruder and Auxiliary Panel Equipment Layouts
This past year, I’ve had the opportunity to view extruder/press lines with various auxiliary equipment at various locations in multiple countries. Many of them are very well thought-out, and much consideration was given to maximizing space and adding multiple lines in the future to facilitate growth. Every situation is different, and has its own set of challenges in regards to available square footage and layout of current machinery used in other parts of the facilities operation.
There is one minor detail that sticks out to me as being overlooked. I’ve occasionally noticed that the panels could have been placed in a better location for ease of operation and better line of site from the extruder/press lines and vice versa. That is especially important when running products that need water injection or have preconditioners that have multiple injection ports for steam and water. Timing is critical for establishing flow of product. At times, the electrical conduit has already been run weeks beforehand, and the panel is going to land where it lands. But, one thing to avoid is placing the panel so you have to work around it in order to adjust the extruder nose cone or open water manifold valves and steam valves. The distance of the panel from extruders is important because you want to keep an eye on extruder amps and processing temperature while adjusting nose cones. Panel placement is a small detail, but placing it in the best available location will help operators learn the startup and shutdown process a bit easier, help them keep optimal production numbers and future operators will have a faster learning curve as well.
When taking into consideration panel placement for the extruders and presses you should also think about placement of auxiliary panels and start/stop buttons. Having both within close proximity helps the operators start and stop the lines in proper sequence and help prevent costly mistakes. If the line needs to be shut down for any reason, including emergencies, it can be done quickly. It is definitely more difficult and time consuming when auxiliary equipment panels or start/stop are in another room or down the stairs and you have to climb over equipment and run to the other room to start or stop the rest of the line. At certain times of the day, particularly at night, there are times when there is only one operator. It would help the operator keep the lines going a bit easier with the extruder panel and auxiliary equipment start/stop buttons in close proximity.
Below is an example of an extruder next to our panel and auxiliary panel. If you have questions or concerns regarding placement, consult the Insta-Pro team.