Thinking of investing in a continuous foaming line, like Sunkist’s SA-1AF?
We’ve written articles in the past, giving you three reasons to invest in continuous and three reasons to invest in batch foaming. Those are business considerations about markets and ROIs.
Now we want to talk about some of the practical considerations for plant planning—what to know about length, width, and height constraints, as well as an all-important fourth dimension that can ruin your product if you aren’t careful.
Basic Layout: Do I Need a Long Plant?
A long plant is ideal, but not a deal breaker. We’ve built continuous foaming plants as short as 40 meters before, and here’s how you do it:
Basically, cut your slabstock into foam blocks 2.2m long. Place a garage door by the block cutter and as each 2.2m block is cut, wheel the blocks outside for curing and storage.
Many customers come to us for plant planning help both from zero and with a piece of land already purchased. Even without a long plant, you can still make a continuous foaming machine work. The trade-off here is yield because as you know, the longer your slabstock is, the more you save in material costs.
This is why choosing the right partner in plant planning is so important.
Do you have an existing batch foaming plant you want to convert? Is the land you have to work with closer to 40m in length than 110m? Ask Sunkist engineers for a continuous foaming solution today.
Plant Planning Hard Numbers: How Long is Long?
Maybe you’re the plant manager or business owner, and you have access to a nice long piece of land to build yourself a new continuous foaming plant. Congratulations! The question on your mind now is, exactly how long does my plant have to be?
There are actually a lot of possibilities. Sunkist’s rack and ramp system is not built to a standard length, giving you great flexibility when it comes to plant layouts. We have built for customers simple 2×2 racks for slabstock, and those customers produce both slabstock and 2.2m foam blocks. As your plant expands, we have different solutions to provide.
But let’s talk about ideal numbers.
IDEAL LENGTH: 110m minimum
Why: If you are investing in continuous foaming, it’s best you produce slabstock no shorter than 35m. At this length, you can best save on material costs by reducing foam skin and shrinkage.
Most continuous foaming plants produce slabstock in lengths of 40m, 50m, or 60m. Take your slabstock distance and multiply it by three, to account for the first run, the conveyor length after the block cutter, and the storage space. Sunkist has ways of saving you space on storage (read our Uganda case here), so you don’t necessarily need the full distance for both rack and ramp. Foam cures best without too much disturbance during transport, however, so if at all possible, a straight shot is the ideal way to go.
35m times three is 105m. We’ve added an additional 5m or so to account for end block cast-off.
When producing slabstock, the starting block is cut off for quality control. This piece of still-curing foam must be taken quickly outside as the chemicals finish reacting, due to fire safety. Like the 40m plant solution above, we recommend a 2m conveyor, plus space for a 2m cart, built right next to a garage door exit. This way, the flammable foam can be quickly and safely taken outside during production.
IDEAL WIDTH: 9-10m minimum
Why: From the centerline of the foaming machine, you want a distance of at least 4.5m to either side to accommodate both the machine and working/maintenance space. This totals to 9m, but let’s make it 10m just to be safe. Nobody likes a cramped workspace.
IDEAL HEIGHT: 5.1m minimum
Why: The height of our 10-ton chemical tank is 5100mm, so depending on the type of tank you get, plan for the correct height. Don’t neglect clearance space for installation though. Read our article on that here.
A Note on Leveling
Length, width, and height are not the only factors to consider during plant planning. Do not neglect the relative height levels! Mistakes in levelness—particularly for continuous foaming—can obstruct liquid laydown, creating lumps and tears and uneven densities in your product. Here are some tips on understanding leveling.
All Sunkist machines come with leveling screws at their bases. These screws are meant for fine-tuning, however, not for any adjustments longer than 5cm. Any difference in level larger than 5cm requires concrete work to prop up the legs of the machine.
The craziest case a Sunkist engineer encountered was a difference of 50cm in level. Please build your foaming plant with level surfaces in mind.
- It’s not the end of the world if you need concrete installations to level your machine, however. Here is the workflow we recommend:
- Order your Sunkist machine and set up an arrival + installation time frame.
- Use a laser level ahead of time to figure out if you need a leveling fix beyond 5cm.
- Contact your local concrete worker to arrive within the first 5 days of machine installation.
- Get your concrete levels placed at our Sunkist engineer’s guidance to complete installation without delay.
Yes, you can build a continuous foaming plant on a shorter piece of land. With our decades of experience and expertise, Sunkist can recommend ideal solutions for your plant geared towards reducing material and labor costs and maximizing high-quality output. Before assembling any machines, measure the relative height levels you’re working on, in order to ensure best machine performance.