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More shampoo, less waste

Flowmeter detects mixing phases - cooperation with Dr. Kurt Wolff

 FLOWave clearly separates production steps from each other

In the production of cosmetics, as well as in the pharmaceutical, biotech or food sectors, strict quality and hygiene guidelines must be adhered to. Therefore, production plants must be cleaned regularly during batch or product changes. At the same time, however, the production process should run as efficiently as possible. Flowmeters that quickly recognise a change of medium with high accuracy open up considerable optimisation potential because they can be used to precisely differentiate between products, cleaning media and their mixing phases. As a result, production steps can be clearly separated from each other and waste can be reduced, e.g. in the production of high-quality shampoos.


Das Inline-Durchflussmessgerät arbeitet nach dem patentierten SAW-Verfahren (Surface Acoustic Waves) und erkennt Medienwechsel zuverlässig. Vorteil dieses Verfahrens ist auch, dass es keinerlei Einbauten oder Verengungen und damit auch keine Toträume im Messrohr gibt.


Optimisation potential in product transfer

At the Bielefeld site, Dr. Kurt Wolff GmbH & Co. KG produces various shampoos at a central production plant, which are known, for example, under the trade names Alpecin and Plantur. After production, these are temporarily stored in four tanks for the subsequent filling process.

With each product change, the pipes must be cleaned and disinfected. However, no residual water is permitted to get into the shampoo, as this would lead to a loss of quality. However, residual water is inevitably always present in the pipes after each cleaning phase. Therefore, the first seconds of the transfer had to be disposed of. At the end of the transfer to the storage tanks, there is also such a mixing phase. To ensure that the product residues that are still in the lines before the next cleaning process can be used to a large extent, they are pushed out with cold water. The first part was then conveyed into the storage tanks, while the much larger remaining portion ended up back in the disposal.


One sensor for flow, temperature and differentiation factor

They were therefore looking for a sensor that detects the mixing phases at the beginning and end of the transfer – i.e. with every product change before and after cleaning – with high reproducibility within milliseconds, and this with different viscous media. At the same time, it must be suitable for hygiene applications and must not be damaged by the ingredients of the shampoos or cleaning media. To make matters worse, the construction of the existing, relatively new plant could not be changed. The sensor therefore needed to be installed in the pipelines without impairing fluidic conditions. 

The Bielefeld-based shampoo producers found what they were looking for in the Bürkert product range. The choice fell on the FLOWaveflowmeter. It works according to the innovative SAW process (Surface Acoustic Waves), i.e. uses the propagation speed of acoustic surface waves in liquids. Thanks to this technology, the measuring system does not require sensor elements in the measurement tube. This offers several benefits: no elements in measurement tubes mean no leaks, material incompatibilities or maintenance. What’s more, there is no pressure drop and cleaning is easy. In the process, the sensor behaves like a piece of pipe. It is made of high-quality stainless steel, there is no dead space and all hygiene requirements are met. This is confirmed by several certificates such as ASME BPE and EHEDG. The sensor can determine much more than the volume flow with an accuracy of 0.4% of the measured value. It simultaneously measures the temperature and differentiation factor of the medium. This makes it possible to reliably distinguish whether shampoo or water is in the line. The sensor measures extremely quickly. The distance between the measurements is only a few milliseconds and the reproducibility is extremely high at 0.2%.

Good cooperation, easy installation and uncomplicated start-up

But the SAW flowmeter was not only convincing technically.







Bürkert was present on site and actively supported both in the test phase and during start-up. The project was completed quickly and the cooperation went smoothly. The Bürkert service team was able to quickly resolve initial problems with network integration during start-up on site. The FLOWave transmitted is based on the EDIP (Efficient Device Integration Platform) electronics platform, which enables networking with other Bürkert devices to form an intelligent system. It makes linking four flowmeters in a Profinet connection, via a common Gateway (ME43), possible. This not only facilitated the integration into the existing system, but also simplified the handling of the devices. Since the gateway has an integrated web server, remote access is also possible via OPC UA.

As easy to install as a piece of pipeline

The compact size and low weight of the FLOWaves allow for uncomplicated installation. With a nominal diameter of 50 mm, the flowmeter weighs only around 3.5 kilograms, i.e. only slightly more than a piece of pipe of the same size. This makes it easy for one person to mount. The installation position is arbitrary, so that the display can be easily adjusted and the flowmeter is easily accessible for configuration during start-up. During operation, the SAW flowmeter consumes little energy.

Inline-Durchflussmessgerät FLOWave

Inline-Durchflussmessgerät FLOWave

Gateway ME43

Gateway ME43, das alle gängigen Industrial Ethernet Protokolle bzw. Feldbus-Schnittstellen unterstützt.