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Author Archives: Grant Phelps

  1. Choosing the Best Tank Agitator for Your Application

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    At Highland Equipment, we specialize in providing clients with high-quality sanitary process equipment that’s the right fit for their business’s needs. We design, provide, and install systems that possess diverse capabilities and consistently surpass industry standards. Our design and production team can create skidded systems, complex pressure vessels, and customized tanks and equipment for businesses across multiple different industries. Our service and installation teams are also ready to work side by side with you to create equipment-driven processes for long-term success. One of our core offerings is tank equipment, including sanitary mixing tanks with agitators. Keep reading to learn more about the type of agitator that will streamline your processing operations.

    Do You Need Agitation?

    Moving, mixing, and stirring solid and fluid contents are referred to as “agitation.” Keep your products moving with agitation equipment that aids in getting your products and materials from one stage to the next. Agitation helps maintain consistent temperatures during heating and cooling. It also keeps mixtures from adhering to the equipment or tank walls. Different tank agitation systems can provide varying levels of agitation based on the agitator motor’s horsepower and speeds, which provides power for the torque of the agitator. All agitators include some combination of a motor, gearbox, and shafted blade that performs the actual agitation.

    What Are the Different Types of Agitators?

    There are four common types of agitators. A top entry agitator is the most common, making up 90% of agitators. Top-entry agitators can handle mixtures with different viscosity and specific gravity levels. They can also provide the additional benefit of a mechanical seal that doesn’t sit in the liquid.

    The other three common types of agitators, making up the remaining 10% of agitators in hygienic use cases, are:

    1. Bottom-Entry Agitators: Typically used for in-tank, high-shear liquid or powder/liquid blending such as the Highland Equipment “UHS” Blender.

    2. Side-Entry Agitators: Side-entry agitators are commonly used in dairy farms and facilities that hold high volumes of liquids on site. Rather than stirring or continuously agitating the fluids aggressively, these tanks keep the product moving. This is especially vital for refrigerated fluids, as movement allows for more even cooling and temperature control.

    3. Bottom-Entry Mag Drive Agitators: Biotechnology organizations often prefer these agitators. These agitators provide the right degree of agitation and operational versatility for a wide array of processing demands. Applications include blending and homogenization of mixing fluids, heating (for consistent dispersal of heat without burning or sticking), storage and suspension, and use in continuous reaction processes. Other use cases include fermentation, hydrogenation, and other reactions.

    Each type of agitator uses a different impeller and brings different mechanical capabilities to the table. The right option for any facility depends on the applications the agitation will aid in, the materials being handled (and how those fluids react to the materials the agitator is built from), and industry-specific regulations. Each agitator also comes in multiple different sub-varieties based on the material and turbulence demands of the application.

    What to Consider When Picking an Agitator for Your Tank

    Because there are so many different agitators available, planning out the use cases and requirements for your facility can help you find the right hygienic mixing system. Keep these three key considerations in mind:

    Mixing Your Product

    Agitators are commonly used for mixing products, and there are different types of mixing motions available. They include:

    1. Scraping: Scrapers physically scrape the bottom and sides of the tank to prevent the product from sticking and remaining stagnant. Sticky products like peanut butter can adhere to the sides or linger in the tank instead of moving through an outlet, so scraping ensures all of the tank contents are processed. Not only does this create a more consistent product, but scraping mitigates the risk of freezing or burning during the chilling and heating processes, respectively.

    2. Sweeping: Sweeping (Swept Surface) motions are faster than scraping and focus on pushing compounds away from the wall of the tank to ensure uniform agitation. This is commonly paired with less viscous fluids, like dairy products. Agitators for low-viscosity goods may have an additional bottom sweep, while thicker goods will have a side sweep.

    3. High viscosity mixing: Thick, or highly viscous, substances need slow agitation with a heavier unit. Either scraping or sweeping agitation can be the right fit.

    Moving Your Product

    If you simply need to move rather than mix a product, propeller agitators can do the job. They keep the tank’s contents in a constant state of motion to prevent separating and settling. It also helps with cooling and heating processes by ensuring a more even temperature throughout.

    Shearing Your Product

    Shearing-based agitation (homogenization) is a fast mode of agitation. The blades cut through the product to ensure an even, consistent mixture. It’s commonly used for complex products like sauces that need to have the ingredients dispersed consistently.

    Find the Right Tank Agitators for Your Products with Highland Equipment

    The friendly customer service team at Highland Equipment is here to help you find exactly the right agitator for your facility and products. Contact us today to learn more about our inventory and design capabilities. You can reach us online or talk to us at 1.800.956.5630 To order your agitator now, request a quote and start the process.

  2. Types, Uses, and Applications of Tanks & Vessels

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    Pressure tanks and vessels come in various shapes and sizes and are designed to hold gases, vapors, and liquids at high pressures, usually above 15 PSIG. Storage tanks hold various  liquids. Each type of tank has a unique set of properties and applications, but all play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of various businesses.

    What’s the Difference Between Pressure Tanks & Storage Vessels?

    Pressure tanks and storage vessels are pressurized containers that store gases and liquids. The main difference between these two types of tanks is the pressure at which they contain their media.

    Pressure vessels store gases or liquids at a pressure above atmospheric pressure. Their Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) starts at 15 PSI but can reach up to 150,000 PSI. On the other hand, storage tanks have an MAOP of 15 PSI and only hold gases or liquids at atmospheric pressure. Also, pressure vessels are typically made from stronger materials such as steel or fiberglass, as they need to withstand higher pressures.

    Different Types of Tanks & Vessels


    There are three main types of pressure tanks:

    • Bladder: Bladder tanks have a rubber or synthetic rubber bladder that stores water. The principle behind a bladder tank is that as fluid fills the bladder it compresses the air in the tank. This air then puts pressure on the water in the tank, keeping the pressure constant.
    • Diaphragm: Diaphragm tanks work similarly, but instead of a bladder, they have a flexible diaphragm that divides the steel tank into two chambers. One chamber holds water, and the other chamber holds air. As water fills one chamber, the air applies force against the water chamber, maintaining constant pressure.
    • Air-over-water: Air-over-water tanks are traditional versions of pressure tanks with air filling the top part of the tank and fluid filling the bottom. The air puts pressure on the water, keeping the pressure constant until water is drawn out of the tank, decreasing the pressure. Air-over-water tanks are also commonly referred to as galvanized or stainless steel tanks.


    Pressure vessels are designed to contain fluids or gases at high pressures and are used in various industries, from food and beverage processing to manufacturing.

    • Heat exchangers: Heat exchangers transfer heat between two liquids or between a liquid and a gas while preventing the two types of media from coming into direct contact with one another.
    • Process vessels: Process tanks carry out reactions or other production processes, such as distillation or filtration.
    • Storage vessels: Storage vessels store liquids or gases at high pressure, often for long periods.

    How does a Pressure Vessel or Pressure Tank Fail?

    There are several ways pressure vessel tanks can fail. The most common type of failure is material degradation, which happens when the material used to construct the vessel is not strong enough to withstand the pressure to which it is subjected. This can be due to an improper selection of material, incorrect design, or poor fabrication.

    Another type of failure is structural discontinuity, which happens when there is a break or crack in the vessel’s structure. This can be caused by improper maintenance or a sudden increase in pressure. Finally, a reduction in the load-bearing capacity can also lead to failure. This happens when the vessel is not properly supported and begins to sag or collapse under its weight.

    The safe operation of pressure vessels is essential for the welfare of workers and the general public. Unfortunately, pressure vessels can sometimes fail, leading to serious consequences. The most common types of failures are:

    • Brittle fracture
    • Stress rupture
    • Elastic deformation
    • Corrosion fatigue

    Uses and Applications of Stainless Steel Tanks & Vessels

    Highland Equipment Inc. specializes in designing and manufacturing high-quality stainless steel tanks and vessels for various industries. Below is an overview of the applications and uses of our sanitary tanks and vessels:

    • Pharmaceutical tanks store and transport sensitive materials for the pharmaceutical industry.
    • Food and beverage manufacturers use our tanks to store everything from wine and beer to milk and olive oil.
    • Dairy farms utilize our dairy tanks for the pasteurization of milk.
    • Breweries rely on our tanks for the fermentation and aging of beer.
    • We also create custom tanks and vessels for the cosmetics industry.

    No matter the industry, Highland Equipment Inc. can provide the perfect solution for your storage needs.

    Rely on Highland Equipment For High-Quality Pressure Tanks & Vessels

    Tanks and vessels are an important part of many industries. Our process systems are vital to industrial food & beverage processing, pharmaceutical drug synthesis, dairy processing, alcohol production, cannabis extraction, and cosmetics processing.

    If you need tanks or vessels for your company, request a quote from us. We can provide you with the best products for your needs, ensuring you get the most value for your money.