BUCHI and CEMSI: Partners in Integration

A rapidly rising consumer food company needed NIR technology to quickly test final product quality in their pilot plant R&D facility. The R&D team wanted an NIR to provide non-contact, process control measurements of food products passing rapidly by on a conveyor belt.  However, being a pilot facility, they desired adjustable and temporary mounting approaches to optimize measurements and accommodate relocations within the plant.

The BUCHI NIR-Online X-Beam, designed to be used with conveyor systems, was a clear fit for the job, and the BUCHI NIR specialists were able to precisely and automatically trigger measurements as products were passing under the sensor. However, installing the sensor at the conveyor while allowing for future relocation or adjustments was an immediate challenge.

Enter Brad Young, a Technical Sales Specialist for CEM Specialties, Inc. (CEMSI), who called a local engineering part shop and manufactured a mobile platform on the spot to start a month-long trial period ending with incredible results. The customer is now looking to implement BUCHI NIR-Online technology at production facilities worldwide. Additional projects in development for this customer include sampling incoming materials and in-process measurements at the extruders.

Brad Young, a Technical Sales Specialist for CEMSI, executes his engineering expertise at a customer site, building a customized solution for a feasibility study at a pilot plant. The platform he devised supported an NIR-Onlinen X-Beam sensor over a conveyor belt transporting finished food products.

While BUCHI has a team of service engineers and product specialists available to facilitate NIR method development, installation and implementation, certain scenarios arise where additional and rapid engineering expertise is needed. For that reason, BUCHI Corporation has formally teamed up with CEMSI to offer superior support to customers who need a customized engineering solution to successfully implement NIR-Online sensors into their process.

In this blog, we will explore: who CEMSI is, how this partnership works, and the benefits of the enhanced engineering capacity offers in combination with the robust NIR-Online Solutions portfolio offered by BUCHI.  To find out more, we interviewed Steve Di Muzio, Technical Sales Supervisor, and Gary Saunders, Vice President, Operations of CEMSI.

Who is CEMSI?

For over 25 years, CEMSI has been providing process and emission monitoring solutions throughout North America and internationally to various industries including cement, mining, power, as well as chemical and petrochemical. Our support services include system design, integration, service (including preventive maintenance and troubleshooting).

What kind of projects does CEMSI work on?

We have global experience ranging from large-scale projects like gasoline blending analysis in the petrochemical industry and full-scale process and emission monitoring solutions in the cement industry to small CO-O2 boiler applications for emission monitoring.  We can design very simple cost-effective solutions to more complex custom systems for the most demanding applications.

As an example, in the chemical and petrochemical industry, analysis of incoming raw material and final product have traditionally been done using gas chromatographs.  This technology is becoming dated, often requiring complex sample systems and shelters to house this equipment, not to mention the lengthy delay for analysis.

How much do the innovations of BUCHI NIR being introduced by CEMSI to some of these older methodologies typically save the customer? 

In addition to the cost of the Gas Chromatograph (GC), you would require the sample system, shelter, integration of equipment into the shelter, crane to install shelter into place to name a few. There are additional on-going costs like heating and cooling the shelter housing the GC system.  The BUCHI spectrometer mounts directly on the process, circumventing these costly additions.  Based on hardware cost alone, we could easily estimate an $800,000 savings per installation.

Moreover, the process GC cost of ownership can approach 1,500 man hours and about $50,000 in preventative maintenance and emergency repair parts per year per unit. In comparison, the BUCH NIR consumes about 16 hours and $2,000 in preventative maintenance parts per year per unit.

What other markets do you think could benefit from these new NIR approaches?

  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Petrochemical refining
  • Cement
  • Food & beverage
  • Natural gas
  • Biofuels

How does the BUCHI-CEMSI partnership benefit the customer?

CEMSI is always looking for innovative ways to help improve our customers’ processes. We strive to help them save money through process optimization, reduction of maintenance time and cost. Our team has had opportunities to help our customers realize savings by reducing their product giveaway through improved analysis.  

The BUCHI NIR-Online system gives CEMSI the opportunity to achieve our goal of helping our customer save money, increase sampling frequency and measurement accuracy. Many industries continue to use old measurement techniques that often take several minutes rather than seconds to get a data point.  With the BUCHI NIR-Online technology, the customer will have the ability to get a lot more data points in the same amount of time that they were getting a single data point. This can be very useful to see trends and make necessary process adjustments on the fly. With this, the customer can minimize product giveaway, and ensure their final product meets the specification tolerances.

The NIR-Online X-Beam is one of several NIR-Online product configurations available. Each unit is ingress protected (IP65, IP66k) with optional Class 1 Div 1, ATEX, and CSA certification (gas and dust). Shown here in an “up-view” configuration, this versatile sensor can be adapted to accommodate many installation scenarios or requirements, including the addition of VIS and camera options to expand analytical capabilities.

Leveraging CEMSI experiences with integration, installation, troubleshooting and repair in tough applications with the BUCHI NIR-Online analyzer provides a simplified installation for the customer, directly in the field or on the production line.

BUCHI Application Specialist, Mark Sullivan, works alongside CEMSI Technical Sales Specialist to optimize data collection frequency and measurements of finished food product parameters including fat, protein and moisture.

BUCHI has a solid product and most installation will be straight-forward. However, there are some applications that will require out-of-the-box thinking to allow the NIR analyzer to maintain its intended purpose of being an easy to install, easy to use, easy to maintain, real-time data generating analyzer.

Partnering with BUCHI allows us to use our wealth of industry knowledge, combined with a high-quality product, to provide turnkey solutions to our customers. It is exciting to be able to offer customers a system that offers real-time analysis of their incoming raw material and their final product and be able to adjust processes to improve their product quality.

Chemical Industry QC with NIR

Read this post, or watch the webinar instead!

Quality control for many labs involves a heavy dose of wet chemistry methods, things like titration and separation techniques that take skill, time and (even more) chemicals to execute. Luckily, some of these traditional testing methods can be replaced by simple, fast and safe NIR spectroscopy.

While this blog title indicates applicability to the Chemical Industry, “chemical” is one broad umbrella. There are myriad products and processes that fall under the chemicals category, from natural products like wood and pulp to personal care products to standard bulk chemicals. Reaching all of these audiences with one blog post seemed a little daunting until we broke it down to some common key themes for implementation of NIR for the chemical (or any!) industry:

  • Raw material qualification
  • Intermediate/in-process testing
  • Finished product testing

Of course, the typical applications that might fall into any one of these categories will differ based on the products being produced. Some of the more common applications include:

  • Material identification
  • %-Moisture or %-solvent quantification
  • Reaction extent or %-polymerization
  • Hydroxyl and acid number determination

As with many other industries, the raw materials used for production of chemical products are often non-discrete, sourced from various parts of the galaxy, and labeled–sometimes correctly, sometimes not.  If you follow product recalls, you’ll find that millions of dollars have been lost due to mislabeled containers being poured into mixers, placed on trucks for distribution to other producers, or stocked on store shelves.

NIR is one quick tool used for identity testing of routinely received materials. There is potential to differentiate isomers, crystalline forms, chemical analogs, fatty acids, and even contaminated materials. Because identity testing with NIR takes seconds and can be done in the warehouse, more frequent testing can be accomplished without backlogging the QC guys and gals.

On the quantitative side, there is plenty to measure keeping in mind the inherent sensitivity of NIR to particular molecular bonds, including O-H, C-H, N-H and C-O bonds. So, if those bonds are changing in type or in number, NIR could be a great fit. This is the case in the typical chemical application of determining hydroxyl number, where we observe a decrease in NIR signal attributed to O-H bonds as those O-H end groups are consumed during polymerization. In fact, determining hydroxyl number of polyols by NIR is a standard practice per ASTM and ISO.

BUCHI Market Manager and former BUCHI NIR Applications Specialist Ryanne Palermo produced a short webinar on these topics, including a fiery example of tracking nitrogen substitution in nitrocellulose. Tune into the webinar by clicking here.

Find more free, streaming content on our BUCHI Webinar On-Demand page, including information about preparative chromatography, laboratory and industrial evaporation, drying, encapsulation and more.

Be a Champion of Final Goods Inspection

Max won’t let a pile of untested final goods (or third wheel) stand between him and a coffee date with his lady love. Check out the newest and last installment of the Food Quality Champion Series animated videos, then download the Guidebook and become a Final Goods Inspection Champion, yourself!

The Final Goods Inspection Guidebook is ripe with information to understand or expedite quality control operations in the food and feed industry. Topics include:

  • Regulations impacting final product quality control
  • Representative sampling & sample preparation
  • Tips for optimizing Kjeldahl workflow for protein determination
  • Tips for optimizing extraction and hydrolysis workflow for fat determination
  • Tips for optimizing NIR methods for proximate determination in food and feed products

Download the guidebook for helpful insights, then start a conversation with your local BUCHI Application Specialists to see how you can be a Champion!