Emech Temperature Control Valves

Energy-saving electronically-controlled precision mixing valves manufactured by Emech and distributed by Birko.


Precise Temperature Output for Cleaning and Sanitation

A constant supply of hot water at a precise temperature is a critical issue for every food plant.

Emech Temperature Control Valves:

  • Control output water temperature within +/- 0.9°F regardless of input temperatures or pressures
  • Are available for water only or steam and water to fit most standard size lines
  • Provide precise control over water temperatures for critical process and cleaning applications
  • Perfect for controlling mash water and yeast fermentation temperatures in the brewery
  • Are ruggedly built – there is no better water mixing valve system available

Emech Control specializes in the design and manufacture of precision control fluid mixing valves. Based on patented ceramic disc valve and electronic actuator technology, the Emech system provides precise and effective control over the fluid output temperature for critical process and cleaning applications. Breweries use them to control mash water temperature and tank temperature for jacketed yeast fermentation tanks.

The Emech system consists of a 316 stainless steel valve body and an electronic actuator running on 24 V dc. Internal ceramic disc valve components provide smooth, precise movement and incredible resistance to wear and corrosion. A calibrated temperature probe returns readings to the actuator which regulates output to the preset temperature within +/- 0.9°F. Thorough mixing, regardless of inflow pressures, is achieved through the patented “Swirl Mix” internal design.

  • Top view operating panel for easy configuration
  • External key-lock power switch
  • Manual override with power-down safety interlock
  • Remote access options
  • Long-wearing components
  • Standard seals
  • Fail-safe, non-contact, absolute positioner feedback
  • NEMA 4 enclosure
  • Temperature operating range: -13°F to 257°F (-25°C to 125°C)
  • Rated pressure: 145 psi (10 bar)
  • Temperature control accuracy +/- 0.9°F (+/-0.5°C) over the 32°F – 212°F (0°-100°C) control range
  • Plug and play technology

Birko currently stocks the full line of Emech Control Systems from 3/4″ to 3″ lines.

Emech Valves

From left to right: Emech water temperature valve with electronic actuator; Emech's Mixing Valve uses wear-resistant, precision ceramic disc components for smooth operation; The new Emech Steam Valve mixes steam and water to precise hot water temperatures for critical cleaning and sanitation applications.

For assistance specifying the correct Emech mixing valve for an application in your plant contact your Birko Technical Representative.

Application Briefs

These briefs describe Birko’s Emech applications for a variety of plant processes:


Tripe Processing – Higher Quality, Increased Yield = Better Returns

Background:

Tripe is edible offal made from the stomach of various animals. Beef tripe is typically the most common, and is made from the first three stomach chambers of cattle with Reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the Omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe) being of most value for producers to be made into sausage, stew or soup. Tripe production in the U.S. is predominantly done using chemicals, and EU production is typically chemical free, however the process of utilizing machines such as La Parmentiere™ or Kentmaster Systems™ is similar. The objective of tripe processing in slaughter houses is to clean the tripe so that it is no longer green and to maximize the available yield of the product.

Problem:

Depending on the type of tripe being processed, the age of the cattle, and even the time of year, the temperature of the process water used to clean the tripe is critical to maintaining optimum yield. Operators may often run their processes hotter in an attempt to clean the tripe faster, but often the result is an overcooked tripe that may in fact be underwashed.

Traditional systems employed either thermostatic mixing systems that become inaccurate over time, and provide unstable control in the process, or were simply ball valves to dump in hot and cold water into the washing machines in an uncontrolled fashion.

If the temperature in the washer or refiner is under temperature, the chemicals may not react correctly causing the tripe to not be cleaned sufficiently. This results in re- washing, or a higher consumption of chemicals to achieve the desired white bleached look that customers are after. Equally if the temperature is too high in the washers or refiners, then the tripe can start to cook, and actually shrinks. This reduces the yield weight available to suppliers to sell the tripe, and also impacts on the quality of the tripe.

Solution:

Customers who have deployed Emech technology as part of their tripe process have all seen an increase in high quality tripe output. Many customers have seen yield improvements of more than 10% on yield alone. The Emech F3 and F5 generation of integrated mixing solutions have allowed reduced rework, and increased cycle performance due to more accurate temperature mixing than previous technology. Increased accuracy of mixing has provided customers with reduced energy and utility costs to while achieving increased yields’, and the robust design and construction of the units has minimized maintenance intervention improved process uptime availability within the facilities in comparison with previous systems.

Customers have experienced payback intervals measured in weeks and months as a result of the deployment of Emech technology that increases the value of their tripe operation.

This has lead to the redefinition of what is acceptable in process performance in tripe rooms across the slaughter industry.


Trolley Tank Control – Cleaner Control Delivers Savings

Background:

Cleaning carcass trolley hooks in the slaughter plant is a two-stage process requiring a good degree of control to achieve two outcomes. Trolley cleaning is typically done in two baths that are normally heated using steam coils in the floor of the bath. The first bath uses a caustic solution to clean the stainless steel trolley hooks to remove any residual blood and protein from the carcass that was previously hung. The second tank contains a layer of lubricating oil on top of a layer of water that is used to lubricate the trolleys and allow them to move freely along guide rails when under loads of hundreds of pounds of carcass weight.

Problem:

Trolley cleaning has typically been a back-of-house process, yet a critical process that can affect or stop the whole plant if not maintained and controlled properly. Traditionally the bath temperatures are controlled using thermostatic or pneumatic steam control valves. Pneumatic plug valves are maintenance intensive around the sliding gland packed seal and rely on constant high quality air to deliver a reasonable level of control. Bi-metallic thermostatic valves rely on consistent operating conditions to achieve a degree of accuracy.

In the event that the caustic bath is not maintained up to temperature, then the trolley hooks may not clean up appropriately. Over temperature conditions in the bath can cause the caustic to “boil off”, producing an unsafe working environment, wasting caustic and reducing the cleaning effectiveness. If the oil bath is below the correct set point temperature, the oil can be too viscous and not drain sufficiently off the hooks causing oil to drip onto carcasses, and resulting QA issues will occur. Oil that is too hot can burn onto the hooks, again causing serious QA issues.

Solution:

Using the closed loop temperature control functionality that the EmechG1 actuator provides when it was coupled to a v-port steam control valve delivered significant value in two forms. From a cost-saving perspective, reduced steam consumption observed by achieving a tighter operating control band, combined with reduced caustic and oil usage as it was used at the correct temperature, has delivered tangible savings to the bottom line. From an operator’s perspective, a higher degree of control produced a safer and cleaner operating environment that meant his attention could be focused on proactively operating the area. Payback on the installation was achieved in approximately six weeks.


Steam/Water Mixing – Recirculation, Water and Energy Savings

Background:

The process of directly mixing steam into water has been used in multiple industries for a long time to heat water, often to temperatures higher than normally seen using other typical heat exchanger processes. Brands such as Pick and HydroTherm are popular in these applications with many years of experience in deploying old technology to achieve a result. Little appears to have been done to achieve any fundamental advance in performance over time.The accurate mixing of fresh water or the re-heating of re-circulated water to maintain process variables as near to optimum set point provides companies the opportunity to maximize profitability through reduced utility and energy and fresh water consumption with increased product yield.

Problem:

Traditional stem water mixing systems such as Pick and HydroTherm rely on the steam entering the unit to be controlled via a pneumatically actuated valve. Pneumatic plug valves are maintenance intensive around the sliding gland packed seal and rely on constant high quality air to deliver a reasonable level of control. The mixing chambers of the units typically use a “cage” to collapse the steam into the water stream. The sudden pressure drop across the cage can often cause calcium to precipitate out, effectively blinding the cage with scale and further affecting the performance of the unit. The actual control of these units is either via thermostatic temperature elements, or more recently via an external RTD temperature probe and I to P converter to drive the position of the steam control valve. This consumes a large amount of space and external equipment with a degree of control/ response latency to achieve any degree of accuracy.

Plants typically operate these systems 5°-10°F above the actual required set point to cope with the high degree of variance that is delivered, therefore wasting large amounts of space and energy.

Solution:

The Emech G1 actuator, when coupled with the Komax steam water mixer, presents a unique out-of-the-box solution ensuring that the temperature accuracy of ± 1°F. can be maintained even during unequal pressure differentials. Increased accuracy has provided significant savings to customers in the form of reduced energy cost. A reduction in temperature set point of 5° F at 70 GPM, to still achieve consistent temperature output, provided one customer with energy savings of more than $100,000/year on natural gas to operate his boiler. The patented design of the Komax/ Emech solution minimizes scale build up, thereby reducing maintenance costs as well.

Customers have experienced pay back intervals in weeks and months as a result of the deployment of Emech technology, and have lead to the redefinition of acceptable process variances.


Hides Process Now Accurately Mixed

Background:

Accurate temperature in the processing of animal hides is crucial to ensure that a maximum yield and high quality of leather is produced. The wet-blue stage of processing, where the hide is converted from its raw state into a stable material which will not putrefy nor be attacked by bacteria, requires a high volume of water at critical working temperatures. Many established plants have used Huni Aquamix™ systems to control the batching of the water into the drums as well as the temperature of the water. The Aquamix system uses either Fisher YS valves, or more recent systems utilize dual controlled butterfly valves to achieve mixing of the tempered water.

Problem:

If the temperature of the water is not accurate, the hides do not clean up properly. If the temperature is too high, hides may scald or shrink excessively and become unusable. If the temperature is too low, hides can fail to preserve. The challenges faced by processors are many and varied. For example, processors experience mixing time, the time between when an operator requests temperature for process to when the temperature is achieved at the mixing valve. This delay creates unnecessary recirculation time, water wastage and production delays.

Processors also experience call time, the time taken to fill the drum with the required in-specification tempered water. Excessive water recirculation increases demand on hot water supply and hot water storage systems. This is the result of “warm” water returning to the hot-water boiler source.

Additionally, processors experience water temperature fluctuation as a result of unstable pressures. These fluctuations cause variation from process set-points and directly promote wastage in heating resources.

Solution:

The Emech™ 3” F4 and 4” F8 valve series offer a high- flow mixing valve solution (approx 3000 lpm / 780 gpm) and (approx 4700 lpm / 1700gpm) that has a fast-action response and swirl-mix feature. This allows the required set-point or mixing time to be achieved very quickly and ensure a fast fill to the drum.

The Emech™ system provides production and maintenance advantages over traditional technology. For example, with a high flow volume Emech valve, call time is reduced and production throughput can be increased. Water recirculation time and/or the dumping of excessive amounts out of specification water is reduced because of the patented Emech sense and mix system. Accuracy at the point of mix is achieved within 0.5°C (0.9°F) saving excessive heating costs. The shear action of the valve and Emech™ closed loop temperature controller creates very little wear and has an extended maintenance free service life. The Emech™ can operate as a stand alone batch temperature controller or be interfaced to work with various control technologies and architectures in the tanning market. A typical three-valve blending system is replaced with a one valve Emech™ system as it can accurately mix irrespective of pressure fluctuations. This reduces capital costs, ongoing maintenance and spare part requirements.


Improved Accuracy Delivers Better Quality Paws

Background:

Chicken paws are regarded as a staple part of many Asian diets, and the preparation of the paws is a temperature-critical process to ensure that the paws are presented in an appropriate form to maximize the value to suppliers. The process of paw preparation involves the separation of the paw from the leg knuckle and then gentle cleaning to exfoliate any ammonia burns, residual fecal matter, and the cuticle.

The challenge in achieving maximum yield is to economically match the process conditions and clean the paw without the need for rework, or damaging the paw due to excessive heat.

Problem:

Accuracy in maintaining accurate temperature control of approximately 140°F (60°C), is important during the paw scrubbing process. If the temperature is too low, then the paws may not clean up properly causing plants expensive rework costs and reduced process yields. If the temperature is too high, the paws may burn and shrink, again reducing the yield and quality of this valuable delicacy.

Often the temperature of the water delivered to this process is affected by other processes that operate periodically around the paw wash system. Temperatures can drift out of specification due to pressure fluctuations in the steam, or hot and cold water circuits.

Traditional Pick™ heaters or Fisher™ mixing stations used in these applications are slow to respond to these variations, and also suffer from scale and maintenance issues that compound the problems experienced by poultry processors.

Solution:

The Emech™ F3 and F5 systems presents a unique out-of-the-box control solution ensuring that temperature accuracy of +/- 0.9°F can be maintained even during unequal pressure differentials. Increased accuracy of mixing has provided significant savings to customers in the form in reduced energy cost and improved process yields. Customers have experienced payback intervals measured in weeks and months as a result of the deployment of Emech technology, which has led to the redefinition of what is acceptable in process performance.


Real-World Returns Redefine Process Performance

Background:

Water has been used in industry as a medium of great convenience for mixing, transport, heat transfer and sanitation. Over the last 25 years the cost of water has increased more rapidly than any other production input, and companies have had few tools to allow them to reduce or actively manage these costs within their businesses. Water and energy are being measured as the key constraints to robust economic growth into the future. The accurate mixing of water to maintain process variables as near to optimum set point provides companies the opportunity to maximize profitability through reduced utility and energy consumption combined with increased process yield.

Problem:

Traditional tempered water mixing systems, either steam / water or water / water relied on a historically accepted six to ten pipe diameters of pipe length for the mixing to be completed, before sensing the performance of the mix. This allowed a generous volume of water to potentially become out of specification before it is detected as unacceptable operating conditions. Process variances of 2° to 5° F were typically accepted as best practice.The sensing technology was often slow, generating additional time for the system to vary from its optimum set point. The use of traditional pneumatic actuators to reposition valves and recover from variances from set point are high maintenance items, often requiring significant maintainer attention and expenditure, and rely on constant air quality and pressure, that consumes high quantities of energy to maintain. To cope with such variances in critical control points customers would tune set points to be consistently > 5°F above optimal process set points to ensure compliance, and provide a degree of head room for system variances.

Solution:

The Emech F3 and F5 generation of integrated mixing solutions combines patented swirl mix design within the valve to ensure mixing is complete at the nose of the valve. When combined with a fast response temperature probe, we provide closed loop temperature control through the Emech G1 complete actuator and controller. The Emech system presents a unique out-of-the box control solution ensuring that temperature accuracy of +/- 0.9°F can be maintained even during unequal pressure differentials. Increased accuracy of mixing has provided customers with reduced energy and utility costs to maintain tighter process control, and the robust design and construction of the units has minimized maintenance intervention and expense compared with previous systems.

Customers have experienced payback intervals measured in weeks and months as a result of the deployment of Emech technology, which has led to the redefinition of what is acceptable in process performance.


Shrink Tunnel Control Delivers Significant Bag Savings

Background:

Vacuum shrink wrapping of food portions for sale is a common practice in the food industry. Following the vacuum sealing of the portions into bags, the bags are shrunk using a tempered water bath.

For large facilities shrink tunnels may be dedicated to a single parcel size, and consequently can be controlled using just a manual steam pressure regulator to maintain an approximate temperature inside the bath.
Other machines employ a Worcestor™ steam valve controlled by a Watlow™ controller to provide the ability to monitor the temperature in the bath.

Any bags that do not shrink correctly, and require reprocessing are known as “leakers.” The process of reworking takes additional time, and the bag cannot be used. A typical cost for a bag can be as high as US$0.50.

The cost of manual rework and the extra time required to reprocess on machinery is expensive and reduces a company’s bottom line.

Problem:

Static regulator tunnels assume that the steam pressure is constant, when setting and maintaining the temperature of the bath. In many facilities the steam pressure can vary significantly over a shift and cause the temperature of the bath to drift. This may result in maintenance staff being regularly called to “tinker / adjust” the unit to correct any variance in temperature and remedy the cause for a batch of leakers. Facilities that use the same machine to process different size portions may require the bath temperature to change by up to 5°F. Traditional Worcestor / Watlow valves and actuators are slow to respond, can be tricky to tune and are maintenance intensive. Many customers begrudgingly accept up to a 5% leaker rate in operations, meaning that for every 1,000 bags processed, 50 will have to be reprocessed. The direct cost of this is US$ 0.50 per bag, plus the labor cost, and a possible product downgrade result in significant extra costs to the plant.

Solution:

The installation of an Emech F5 valve to control the water temperature for a shrink tunnel has delivered improved performance for a South Dakota packing house.

This facility was experiencing leakers in excess of 5% which has been reduced to less than 1% following the installation and commissioning of the valve as part of the shrink tunnel process. Savings of $25 per operating hour on bags alone meant the project had a payback measured in weeks. The system has a faster start up time in the morning, and provided a higher degree of flexibility for Quality Assurance and operators to adjust the temperature of the bath water as the size and type of portions processed changes during the day. The closed loop temperature control deals itself with fluctuations in water and steam pressure, further reducing the maintenance intervention seen in the plant on a daily basis.


Accurate Temperature Control Provides Improved Yield and Quality in Batch Controlled Dough Making

Background:

Water temperature is one of the most critical components in the yeast-raised dough making process as it affects the rate of activity of the yeast. Overall production quality and yield is directly affected by the ability to regulate water temperature as it is added to the final dough, which should be 75°F to 77°F (23°C to 25°C) to foster optimal fermentation.

Problem:

The temperature of the production environment, the impact of seasonal temperature variances and other required ingredients, as well as heat generated during the mixing and yeast activation, will affect dough temperature. If the dough temperature is too warm, the dough will ferment too quickly and be ready at an untimely moment or may become over-fermented during make-up. If too cold, the dough will take too long to ferment and proof, and will not be ready for baking. Finished dough temperature is invariably controlled by the temperature of the water added to the dough. Like many industrial food manufacturing processes, providing consistency of control at the point of application previously required expensive solution sets.

Solution:

Adjusting water temperature with an Emech™ system is an easy way to compensate for variables and still achieve a final dough temperature of 76°F (24°C). After calculating the temperature of ingredients and the heat generated during the mixing process, the perfect dough mix will require water at the precise temperature to provide the optimal dough temperature. When a successful recipe is proven by the baker, it is then easily repeatable in production with the Emech™ mixing system compensating for input variances in the normal factory pressure and temperature supplies and through its own closed loop control, patented swirl-mix ceramic disc mixing valve and with an intelligent actuator the Emech system ensures in specification water is delivered. This system can be installed with an existing automated equipment PLC interface to accept a 4-20mA temperature signal or can be used in local mode and controlled by an operator. The entire system is designed for minimal ongoing maintenance and has already been incorporated into original equipment vendors of dough making equipment deployed in major food manufacturers.


Centrifuge Pulse Water Valves Cleaned Up

Background:

The use of water as a pre-wetting, or post flushing agent on centrifuge technology is important to keep contact surfaces clean, particularly in beverage and slaughter applications.

It is common for dairy factories, breweries, wineries and slaughter houses to use centrifuges as clarifiers to remove solids from liquid streams, in applications such as whole milk clarification, yeast clarification, or fats clarification.

Centrifuges may be fitted with either diaphragm solenoid valves, or fast acting pneumatic butterfly / ball valves to deliver the “pulse” of water into the collection chamber.

In high duty cycle applications, these pulse valves can be actuated as often as every two to three minutes. Wear and tear on these valves is typically high and is apparent either as internal seat leakage, or for rotary actuated ball / butterfly valves, it is common for the glands to fail, causing the valve to leak externally.

Problem:

Premature failure of pulse valves can cause an undetected waste of water if the seat leaks. Gland failures can result in damage to actuators, as well as housekeeping issues with external leaks. A major Alfa Laval™ centrifuge user in a brewing application had issue with the high duty cycle requirements of their yeast clarification process. With the centrifuges operating normally 16-20 hours per day to match production, and ejections occurring every three to five minutes, the clients’ best in class pneumatically actuated ball valve would last four to six months before either the glands failed, or the seat would wear, causing a waste of water, and a measurable current rise to drive the centrifuge. A failure of the gland seals would often cause water under significant pressure to prematurely fail the actuator, causing additional expense.

Solution:

The installation of an Emech F2-025 with sanitary socket weld end preparation has been met with long-term maintenance and housekeeping savings for the client. Emech was able to provide an ISO matched coupling and mounting bracket to fit the customer’s preferred Morin TM actuator, and these valves have now been in service for more than two years with no seat, or stem leakage.The patented ceramic disc technology delivers FCI 70-2 Class VI bubble tight shut off capability, and seat wear characteristic described by the client as a “new best practice standard, with performance beyond anything ever used.” Accurate tolerance design and manufacture delivers a high performance valve, which is robust both in seat performance, as well as superior stem leakage characteristics generated by a pure turning moment.


Two-Port Valves Easily Deliver Accurate Control

Background:

Flow control of liquids and gases are critical to ensuring that processes are accurate, and are maintained to appropriate specification in many industrial applications. Different types of flow control valve exist from inaccurate butterfly valves through to high precision plug valves, and a huge range in between. The control element used to position these valves traditionally is pneumatic or electrically operated via a PLC signal. The challenge in achieving accurate flow control is to economically match the process and environmental requirements with the capability of products existing in the market place.

Problem:

Often the relationship between percentage open and flow is non-linear over the full stroke of the valve. Typical ranges of good linear response may only be between 20% and 70% of the opening capability of the valve. This results in difficulty in managing control at either the top or bottom end of the range of the valve, and can limit the performance. Plug style valves are typically sealed with gland seals that are maintenance intensive, particularly if the flow rate is varied, at different stages in a process. Wear across the valve seat and material compatibility, can affect the performance of the valve, and adversely affect process performance. Speed, resolution and accuracy of response are critical in achieving long term good flow control.

Solution:

Emech F2 valves deliver a new standard in control accuracy over a broad opening span. The geometry of the segment disc design provides linear response in terms of flow verses opening angle right across the operation of the valve. A comparatively high flow coefficient to nominal bore size, delivers unprecedented control in a number of applications. In a CO2 control application, the client achieved payback through reduced gas consumption, and extended maintenance intervals, which saw the valve, become a multi-site standard for this application. In a variable flow recipe situation, where the flow needed to be controlled at different rates, for different periods of time, the degree of accuracy delivered by the F2 valve combined in conjunction with temperature accuracy delivered by an Emech F3 valve, enabled precision in process control to achieve new standards of performance.