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Process Control with Accurate and Portable Analyzers

By 
Bob Schumann
3 min Read
January 26, 2023

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Introduction

A major challenge for plant managers, engineers and operations staff is producing consistent and high-quality end-products from highly variable raw materials and in varying environmental conditions. In these scenarios, the plant manager must have rapid access to reliable data to monitor and adjust the process to maintain consistent quality.

Many companies start with benchtop NIR instruments, but these instruments are expensive, require dedicated space, and are often not conveniently located for rapid analysis of samples from the production line. As a result, sampling is reduced and plant managers do not have proper visibility into the production process.

For many, the next obvious answer is an in-line or on-line systems to measure samples directly in the production line, but historically these projects have a low success rate.

In-line process analyzers take readings at a single, static location in the manufacturing process. This leaves large gaps in data about the final product and doesn't give any clues about where or why problems occur during production.

Process Analyzer Challenges:

There are many reasons that process NIR projects fail. Some of the common issues include:

  • Process NIRs are expensive to install and maintain.
  • ROI's are often based on automated measurements, thus operators see it as competition.
  • Process instruments measure a fixed point in the process, which often does not fully characterize the production and introduces sampling errors or biases.
  • Process NIR instruments require frequent monitoring and bias adjustments to ensure reliable results. If this validation is not easy to do, instrument drift can result in out of specification product and increased claims, waste or re-work expense.

Portable Analyzers Bridge the Gap Between the Lab and Production Line

Mobile and flexible sampling allows portable NIR instruments to quickly pinpoint and fix production issues upstream before they enter the final product.

Portable analyzers provide accurate and reliable analysis of raw materials, intermediates and final products for complete monitoring of production. Instant results can be acted on immediately for responsive control, and individual production streams can be evaluated to troubleshoot and diagnose production issues.

If inline systems are implemented, portable analyzers provide valuable feedback and evaluation to validate the process analyzer on the exact sample streams, protecting against drift and improving consistency across production lines.

A Better Path to Monitoring Your Process

Portable FT-NIR Analyzers can monitor every step of production for complete oversight of the manufacturing process

The NeoSpectra Platform...

  • is much less expensive than process instruments
  • can measure many different points to properly diagnose an issue in a unit operation before products hit the combined stream where many process NIR's are installed
  • provides near real-time measurements on unit operations that change slowly in real-world applications (make a change at a ring drier and it takes 30-40 minutes to see the effect)
  • is much easier to implement than process NIR
  • provides a means to verify process NIR performance if implemented.

Conclusion

Portable analyzers are a cost-effective way to monitor manufacturing processes and ensure accuracy and reliability. The NeoSpectra platform provides quality testing at every stage of production, from raw materials to finished product, so you can respond quickly to changes in the process and improve production efficiency.

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