Industrial specialist uses Solid Edge to design customized food processing machines

Planet Dryers | Peterborough, United Kingdom

Industrial specialist uses Solid Edge to design customized food processing machines

Planet Dryers, a specialist manufacturer of industrial dryers and ancillary machinery, Planet Dryers serves a wide range of food and industrial markets, uses Solid Edge to design customized food processing machines quickly and easily.

Achieving the perfect texture and taste

The removal of humidity is a key stage in the production of foods such as breakfast cereals and savory snacks. Without an effective drying process, there would be no satisfying crunch. In addition, food with moisture left in it will have a shorter shelf life – crisp breads, pasta and pet treats must be stable. To ensure that food items dry out evenly to the correct level, there has to be complete control of warm airflow.

Planet Dryers specializes in this area, designing customized drying, cooling, roasting and cutting machines that are used by large well-known companies producing globally familiar brands. The largest unit is more than 40 meters long, with even the smallest models measuring at least six meters. The company offers a range of airflow systems with single-pass, multi-pass and multi-stage conveyor band dryers, and conveyor drives of variable speed.

Hygiene is, of course, critical. Machines from Planet Dryers are constructed in stainless steel, with a range of product spreading options and the ability to handle flavoring and coating. As such processes can result in a sticky residue, it is essential that machines can be thoroughly cleaned.

Each machine is designed as a framework covered by sheet metal, which has to be shaped at various junction points and cut out where parts such as gas burners are bolted on. “Our products are essentially conveyor belts with warm air blowing through them and one of the critical challenges is containment of the product,” explains John Cresswell, engineering manager at Planet Dryers. “We have to manipulate sheet metal to create effective side guards and transfer chutes.” It was this specific design requirement that led Planet Dryers to adopt Solid Edge software from product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software.

Flexibility and ease of use

Following the delivery of a particularly large order that indicated the potential for future international growth, Planet Dryers decided to review its overall design process. As a result, the company established an in-house design team and began to assess the engineering design software on the market.

“I was not familiar with Solid Edge and was quite surprised by how well the software met our needs,” says Cresswell. “In contrast, the software we’d been using previously had clear limits. When we gave some legacy data to a OnePLM engineer, he used the sheet metal feature and synchronous technology to show us how we could have saved hours on an earlier job.”

Solid Edge was implemented in January 2015. “We received really helpful and proactive support from both OnePLM and Siemens,” comments Planet Dryers designer Daryl Collins. “Solid Edge is very intuitive for new users and I was able to get to work immediately designing a triple pass dryer. Solid Edge is much more flexible than the software we had before. I can relate faces to each other or constrain angles yet still manipulate a plate without losing form.”