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.