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Modular and individualization for higher flexibility and further advanced monitoring are the latest development trends of drying systems for plastics processing. In addition, equipment manufacturers are paying particular attention to the drying of PET and rPET materials.

The Conair ResinWorks system provides the option to equip each drying hopper with its own touchscreen HMI.
The Conair ResinWorks system provides the option to equip each drying hopper with its own touchscreen HMI.

Central drying system offers individualized hopper monitoring

The latest Conair ResinWorks central drying and pre-conditioning system gives users the option to equip each drying hopper with its own 4-inch color touchscreen HMI, enabling independent operation, data monitoring and other advanced control features.

This option allows users of new ResinWorks systems to implement advanced control features on a per-hopper basis, even if they are using an older Conair dryer or certain competitive dryers.

The new HMIs, part of a control system upgrade reaching across Conair’s dryer line, offer much simpler, plain-text interaction with hopper features, settings and help information.

ResinWorks multi-hopper units or sleds, equipped with hopper-specific HMIs, give users instant access to a range of features and control settings. Users can program automatic start-up for individual hoppers so that pre-drying begins at a set day and time, and under specified drying conditions.

The HMI can be used to set and monitor different temperatures at each hopper, enabling the system to dry a variety of different resins simultaneously. It displays data and trends from Conair Drying Monitor probes which measure the temperature profile of resin at multiple points in each hopper.

It also supports Conair’s “material ready” feature which prevents material from being conveyed out of a ResinWorks hopper until the control verifies that the material has been properly dried per user instructions.

Once desired drying conditions are reached, the HMI supports automatic temperature setback that reduces the temperature in the hopper to a lower standby temperature to prevent over-drying, save energy, and keep resin ready for immediate use.

Users can precisely track energy consumption trends in real time for each hopper, then use consumption data from the HMI display to calculate production costs more accurately.

Intelligent and modular system provides high flexibility

One of the two debuts highlighted by ProTec at K 2019 was the SOMOS RDF (Resin Dryer Flexible) modular resin drying system for flexible stationary use without a central dry air generator.

Depending on the requirements and throughput, a number of independently operating drying modules with their own dry air supply can be combined to create a variable complete RDF drying system.

As the system consists of autonomously operating modules with their own Industry 4.0 capable PLC controllers which can store up to 200 formulations, central visualization and control is also achievable.

According to ProTec, components are available with capacities of between 50 and 400 liters, each one being individually controllable by its own controller. Alternatively, when interconnected, they can be controlled using a common operator control unit.

As standard, they offer drying temperatures of 60°C to 140°C and high-temperature variants for up to 180°C are also available. Each module has an integrated air generator, so ruling out complete failure which may occur with a centrally supplied drying system.

In addition, installation requires little space and effort as the modules are compact and, in comparison with a central drying system, do not require extensive supply and return air piping.

The RDF drying system also saves energy because only the components which are actually required are operated. If requirements change, modules can be simply added or removed.

They also provide various smart energy-saving systems: drying air volume is automatically adapted to actual throughput while regeneration cycles are controlled on the basis of the actual water content of the pellets.

The new generation dryers dedicated for PET and rPET

Some auxiliary machinery manufacturers have been paying particular attention to the drying of PET granules, especially for large productions which are typical in the rigid packaging and beverage sectors.

In a dedicated area of the Moretto stand at the K show this year, the Italian-based manufacturer presented a drying system consisting of a XD 800X series dryer combined with the OTX hopper and MOISTURE METER MANAGER.

It is a solution which guarantees certifiable results, providing an absolute primacy in terms of energy efficiency for any type of material and a completely automatic system of the drying process.

The XD 800X series dryers are equipped with innovative turbo-compressors system, and they do not use either cooling water or compressed air, being this another advantage in the treatment of PET and ensuring energy saving compared to conventional dryers.

Another highlight of Moretto at the show was the X COMB series of dehumidifiers which are extended in the range to cover higher production needs.

These mini dryers are a combination of patented Moretto technologies. They are fully electric, and equipped with powerful turbo-compressors, zeolite technology, the Dew Point equalizer and the exclusive OTX hopper.

For the drying of highly hygroscopic technical materials used in demanding sectors such as the medical, optical and automotive sectors, the X COMB dryers are good choices in terms of efficiency and energy savings.

As for all Moretto dryers, the MOISTURE METER device, an exclusive solution for the precise in-line measurement of residual granule moisture, can also be installed on the X COMB series.

The new GenesysNext dryer is optimized for the treatment of rPET. The new GenesysNext dryer line of another Italian manufacturer Piovan just got its world premiere at the same show. The new patented PETformance and PureTech systems ensure the GenesysNext is able to process any type or percentage of PET material, guaranteeing high level of quality at low cost per preform produced.

As introduced, this drying system is distinguished by self-adaptive technology that is now also optimized for the treatment of recycled PET (rPET). It also comes with more intuitive control.

It introduces for the first time the concept of a direct connection between the drying and the injection processes, thanks to the capability to read the injection process in real time and to minimize and stabilize it on the set value. In this way the target is maximum efficiency of the complete production process with scrap rate reduced to a minimum level.

The new dryers can automatically manage the drying process by setting all the critical parameters: from the process air flow rate to its dew point value, from the residence time to the temperature, maintaining optimum operating conditions even as hourly production and initial temperature and humidity conditions of the plastic granules vary.

ULTRA dryer with huge energy saving

ULTRA 600 Low Energy Dryer. ULTRA Low Energy Dryer is based on the technology introduced by Maguire in 2013 under the name VBD. As introduced, the dryer uses energy to dry resin at a drastically lower rate than a comparable new desiccant dryer.

 For example, in a typical material drying example for a process running at 220lb (100kg) per hour, for 6000 operation hours per year, an average desiccant dryer might run at 60 watts per pound of material, versus the ULTRA that would run at 19 watts per pound.

 As explained, each system uses the same amount of energy to bring the material up to temperature from ambient temperature – around 15 watts. This is the energy used to HEAT. However, the energy used to DRY is dramatically different.

The desiccant dryer would use a further 45 watts to DRY the material so it can be processed, whereas to the same level the ULTRA would only use 4 watts – a 10 times difference in energy usage.

When translating to a direct saving and return on investment, the result is significant. If an average kW price is US$0.12, then the energy bill for the desiccant dryer per annum is US$7,128, versus US$633.60 drying the same material with an ULTRA Low Energy Dryer. Over the course of an average lifespan of a dryer, that equates to US$64,944.

ULTRA Low Energy Dryers are available for throughputs of 150, 300, 600, and 1,000 lb/hr (68, 136, 272, and 454 kg/hr).

Successful concepts combined in a new unit

The new EKON combines two successful drying concepts in one unit.KOCH-TECHNIK, specializing in peripherals, has been working on further development of its series of dryers. It introduced a new type of dry air dryer under the name of EKON in Düsseldorf this October.

The EKON dryer combines the advantages of the existing successful CKT and EKO drying concepts, and is available in eight various construction sizes ranging from 110 to 2,000 (m³/h).

The concept of the heat exchanger with the piping system taken from the EKO dryers has been further improved in the EKON series. As the heat is recuperated, energy consumption is reduced by 20-30%, depending on the material drying temperature.

In addition to the standard blower with frequency regulation (from the construction volume of 300 m³/h), the new dryer is also equipped with KOCH ÖKO’s patented energy management which intelligently adapts to the drying process to ensure maximum energy savings and protect the material.

By combining dew point control, ÖKO equipment and blowers with frequency regulation, up to 50% energy savings can be achieved when drying the granulate.

Thanks to the modular system from KOCH, various drying containers with a capacity of 20 to 600 liters can be integrated into EKON dryers. Users can display all relevant operating information and adjust parameters such as drying time, temperature and dwell time using the 10.4-inch touch panel.

Safe operation of the dryer itself is ensured by micro filters, overload protection, air check and temperature limiter. The drying process is constantly monitored via sensors.

Using an Ethernet connection, the EKON device can be connected to the corporate network to control the drying centrally via KOCH visualization software.   

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