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02.03.2020 Novel hygienic kneader/mixer/extruder

Winkworth Machinery, Basingstoke, UK, as the culmination of an intensive three-year development programme, has produced what is believed to be the world’s most hygienic kneader mixer extruder machine. Built to match a client’s exacting needs: high-powered, totally reliable and in a compact design which could be fully integrated within ancillary equipment, the unit also had to be cross-contamination free. For this particular application, a high level of automation was also demanded, covering full control of the mixing process, precision and control of the blade and screw speeds, full integration with inlet systems, mixing times, vacuum levels and duration, temperature control, zone management during mixing and, critically, during discharge.

“Machine cleaning requirements vary from machine to machine and applications - some permit wet washing and CIP (cleaning in place) approaches, other strictly forbid liquids,” said Winkworth managing director, Grant Jamieson. “Designing and building a machine as complex as this was in itself a challenge, but with the product to be mixed being ‘sticky’ by definition, this added a further challenge as this was to be a strictly ‘no liquids’ cleaning procedure.”

Despite the need for all product contact services to be cleaned between formulas, downtime due to cleaning had to be minimised. To meet this requirement, the machine has been designed to the latest pharmaceutical GMP standards - more stringent, though similar to EHEDG – which Winkworth points out supports a simple yet effective independent verification of ‘clean'. Providing access to allow ergonomic safe cleaning regimes was critical, the human factors of reach, touch, line of sight, lifting, pulling, pressing and trip hazards – were all taken into consideration. To facilitate these requirements, the machine is fully retractable, thereby allowing kneader blade access. Simultaneously the extruder screw is retracted, allowing full 360° access to the screw itself. A pivoting, hinged, non-drive end door to the mixer chamber, allows full access. Closure after cleaning and inspection is an automated reversal of opening, allowing for a fast and verifiable process that promotes high levels of productivity.


Winkworth’s ZE mixer extruder offers easy access to the extruder screw and kneader blade

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