The case of the disappearing dust

By KC Boxbottom in Consultants on May 28, 2014

Sometimes you wonder if the phone will ever ring and sometime you wonder if it will ever stop. It was Cathy and she was anxious.

"KC, I'm losing my mind over lost product. Get here quick!"

I did. The first thing she showed me was her yield calculations for her protein powder.

"I make twenty-five hundred pounds at a time and pack in half-pound cans." Cathy told me. "Theoretically I should get five thousand cans. Allow for some spillage, overfill and so on and I would expect a 98 percent yield or forty-nine hundred cans. Lately I've been getting about forty-three hundred or 86 percent yield. That excess loss is my entire profit margin and I don't know where it's going. I've looked at my whole process and found nothing unusual."

Cathy walked me through the plant. The can filler was making quite a racket and I investigated more closely. It had a vacuum dust collector system to keep the powder from getting out into the room. The blast gate that was supposed to control the flow was broken and the vacuum was running wide open.

"Fiddlesticks on lost product," I told her. "Look in your filters and you'll find it. The dust extractor is supposed to extract stray dust. Running wide open like this, it is pulling product from the filler stream. Fix that gate and control the vacuum to the minimum needed."

If a product is not going into the can, it's has to be going somewhere else. It doesn't disappear.

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