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Batch Processing vs. Continuous Flow

VibradrumCorporations and small businesses have long sought better approaches to material processing. One of the main topics of debate is that of batch processing vs. continuous flow. Here’s a brief overview of what each process entails.

 

Batch processing

This involves the processing of bulk material in batches through each step of the desired process. Processing of subsequent batches must wait until the current batch is finished. This method seems effective at first glance, but in most cases falls short of continuous flow.

 

Continuous flow

This processing involves moving one work unit at a time between each step of the process with no breaks in time, sequence, substance or extent.

 

For most applications, continuous flow saves time, energy and costs. When implemented correctly, continuous flow processing:

  • Reduces waste.
  • Saves money by reducing inventory and transportation costs.
  • Increases productivity – more units completed in less time.
  • Improves quality by making it easier to spot and correct errors.
  • Cuts down on overhead via increased stability and reduced lead times.
  • Adapts to customer needs more effectively than batch processing.

 

The advantages of continuous flow processing in mining and material processing are clear. Miners can save time, process more material and expend less energy. Since the processes and machinery involved are heavy-duty, the savings become quite substantial. The end result is a leaner, cost-effective business model. Find out how General Kinematics helped a company fixed their inefficiency with continuous flow. 

 

However, certain materials such as titanium demand a batch processing approach. Raw titanium must have its usable materials extracted before being used to manufacture products. The vast majority of processing plants today rely on the Kroll Process, a batch processing method invented during the Great Depression era. The process mixes the titanium oxide ore with chlorine to create usable titanium chloride. Other metals can go without this procedure, but titanium cannot. The titanium chloride is then placed inside a superheated reactor and undergoes sodium or magnesium reduction. It can take a week to process one batch of titanium, whereas metals like steel and aluminum can go the continuous flow route through a blast furnace. More efficient processes are being tested, but have yet to be implemented.

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