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Technical Article

Vortex Global Provides Coffee Handling Solutions


Nearly half of the adult population consumes a daily java making coffee the globe’s second-most consumed beverage. As demand for unique roasts and blends increase, coffee producers and suppliers look for solutions to improve their production processes.

Vortex Global has been providing dry bulk material handling components to the coffee industry since 1982 when boutique companies began experimenting with coffee and espresso drinks and the sale of specialty beans became available for sale to the general public. Through an extensive history of working with the coffee industry, Vortex has identified key issues with slide gates and diverter valves and developed proprietary technologies to handle everything from whole beans to the finest espresso grounds.

Three-Way Flex Tube Diverter Handling Ground Coffee
In mid-2000, a systems group that was working with a major coffee distributor contacted Vortex regarding the use of their three-way Flex Tube Diverter in a facility expansion. They liked the cleanliness of the valve and the elimination of possible product cross-contamination. They were excited about the added flexibility a three-way Flex Tube Diverter could provide in this particular operation.

A quote was provided for 39 Flex Tube Diverters. Modifications were made to offset outlet ports one and three and also extend outlet port two a total of 11” (280mm). Vortex knew the valves would handle ground coffee and they would not need to shift between the three outlets while in use. The system would run at 8 – 10 psig ( .55 – .69 barg) and could potentially spike to 15 psig (1.03 barg) at times.

The valves were ordered and shipped in late 2000. During January 2001, Vortex was contacted regarding a problem the customer was encountering with the diverters. Apparently, the system was seeing considerably more pressure than was originally indicated when the valves were quoted and the flexible tubing in the diverters were vibrating loose from their mounting stubs.

Engineers from Vortex made three separate trips to the facility to access the problem and make modifications to all 39 Flex Tube Diverters. There were apparent problems with other parts of the system. The systems group and the customer appreciated Vortex’s quick response to identifying and resolving the issue.

Roller Gates and Seal Tite Diverters Handling Coffee Beans
Roller Gates and three-way Seal Tite Diverters were implemented in a conveying system to support the movement of green and roasted coffee beans. The customer is currently only using the middle outlet of the Seal Tite Diverters. The two outside legs are blanked off for future expansion if necessary.

The Roller Gates feature Infinite Variable Positioners (IVPs) to allow material flow control capabilities on both the opening and closing strokes. IVPs are highly accurate. When automated, the IVP can actuate in increments of +/- 2%. When manually controlled, the IVP can actuate in increments of +/- 4%. Both products are serviceable while in-line allowing for ease of maintenance and minimal downtime.

Fill Pass Diverter Handling Roasted Coffee Beans
System engineers working with this project initially compared a Vortex Fill Pass Diverter to a flapper style scale valve. Upon conclusion of the comparative tests between the two types of valves, the group discovered that the Vortex Fill Pass Diverter caused minimal damage to the roasted beans – much less than the flapper style diverter.

After further review, the engineers proposed an adaption to the Fill Pass that might further reduce damage to the beans. Instead of tangentially conveying the beans into the hopper stack, they suggested replacing the fill stack with a curved discharge tube to introduce beans directly into the bin.

Vortex manufactured four Fill Pass Diverter Valves with flanged radius discharge elbows. The special design improved the overall bean condition.

Vortex and the Coffee Industry
Vortex slide gates, diverter valves and loading spouts are clean, constructed of FDA approved materials and easy to maintain making them ideal for coffee handling and other food and beverage applications. These features extend service life while reducing lifecycle and housekeeping costs.

All Vortex products are designed to improve process efficiency, provide easy in-line maintenance, ensure dust-free environments, self-compensate for wear, require minimal spare parts, and establish long-term reliability. As it relates to food & beverage industries, the Vortex Quantum Series is well-designed to prevent cross-contamination and spoilage. Several Vortex components are also designed to accommodate frequent wash-downs and other sanitation processes.

Coffee producers across the globe rely on Vortex products to solve their coffee handling needs. More than 35 coffee facilities utilize a Vortex slide gate or diverter valve in their daily operations. To learn how Vortex can assist with your coffee handling needs, visit vortexglobal.com.

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