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COVID-19 Update – Methylcellulose base for Hand Sanitiser

The coronavirus lockdown persists in presenting significant challenges. Also, a central focus is increasing the production of Hand-sanitiser, a key to the UK’s national response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Recently, we have been receiving reports of difficulty with the supply of suitable gel thickening agents, typically Carbopol. However, methylcellulose may offer an alternative.

One of our long-standing partners, John Ryland, is a Director at process engineering specialist Ryland Research,

John contacted Greaves to tell us about the work his company has done in the manufacture of gelled alcohol fuel. This is very similar to hand cleaner in composition. Furthermore, the primary thickener used was methylcellulose, a common ingredient in food production.

"We have the know-how to set up gelled alcohol manufacturing plants using methylcellulose. As a result,  we would be happy to
support any company wishing to explore these options for the manufactureof hand sanitisers or similar.”
John Ryland, Owner, Ryland Research

In addition, Ryland Research has proved to be an invaluable partner over many years to Greaves and our customers. Consequently, we would urge anyone who is interested in options for alternative base thickeners for their hand sanitiser project to seek their help:-

Call: +44 (0) 1420 732237

Focusing on the positives

Since the early days of the pandemic back in mid-March, hand sanitiser has been on the radar for many manufacturers and the Greaves team has already helped several customers switch their capacity away from traditional high viscosity products to the manufacture of this greatly needed item.

We continue to work flat-out helping customers.

If you are looking for technical mixing advice for your production project, please contact us here

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Powders into liquid – A new solution to an old mixing problem

The Problem

The dispersion of fine powder in a liquid can be a challenging process throughout pharma, cosmetics/healthcare & food manufacturing. Example applications include:

  • Foods – Garlic to cold water, pectin, starch, xanthan gum, cornflour, carbon black
  • Pharma & Cosmetics – Carbopol, calcium carbonate, titanium dioxide, sorbitol

The issue often arises where manufacturers are using inappropriate or outdated mixing technology. The issues can include:

  • Excessive mixing time – often measured in hours
  • Slow manual addition of raw materials
  • Floating agglomerates and  “fish-eyes”
  • Risk of unreliable operator input with results highly dependent on operator skill
  • The common need to pre-heat liquid base is slow & energy-inefficient
  • Unstable suspensions can be prone to separation (meaning short shelf-life)
  • Powder adheres to support pillars and support bushes. (wear, cleaning & maintenance issues)
  • Difficult-to-clean systems present hygiene risks

The traditional approach

Historically, when faced with the “powder-liquid problem” manufacturers usually try two techniques:

  • Impeller / propeller (perhaps at high speed)
  • High shear mixer (rotor-stator type)

Neither of these approaches is guaranteed to resolve the powder/liquid problem and almost invariably results in lower productivity than optimum solution.


The Greaves’ solution – the High-Speed Disperser™ (HSD)

Greaves’ High-Speed Disperser™ technology has been developed specifically to tackle the problems associated with mixing lightweight, difficult-to-wet powders.

The HSD solution involves:

  • Creation of a deep vortex which immediately draws powder into the mixing zone allowing:
    • Rapid addition of powder
    • Greatly reduced surface agglomeration
  • High-speed, serrated disc impeller delivering:
    • Rapid powder incorporation and dispersion
    • Dispersion of agglomerates
    • Consistent flow and downthrust

The benefits of Greaves’ HSD mixers include

  • Significant increase in productivity – cycle time in minutes rather than hours
  • Reduced operator input – easier to use
  • Hygienic construction – easy clean-down
  • Cold mixing – no slow, expensive pre-heating
  • Improved product consistency and stability

This video demonstrates the Greaves’ solution in action…

For further information please see

Our focus is on delivering real benefit to our customers. We are happy to arrange mixer trials to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch

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Smart Batch Mixing – working efficiently with multiple-batches

As we looked at in this article Smart Batch Mixing is at the heart of a surprising amount of product manufacturing across the UK – and beyond.

We can identify key criteria which can influence the efficiency of a mixing process, where each element is important, in its own right.

However, it is addressing these criteria in combination and developing a joined-up solution that presents the real challenge.

Greaves has developed a systematic framework for meeting this challenge. Our proven approach is effective across all mixing processes and industries and is based on multiple factors:-

  • Identifying optimum batch capacity(s) and machine size(s)
  • Flexible fill capacity in each machine
  • Minimise mixing time
  • Minimise operator input (reduce errors)
  • Design for rapid fill & discharge
  • Design for rapid cleaning
  • Smart use of mobile batch vessels
  • Vessels engineered to match both products and production  process

We recognise that it is one thing to come up with a mixer design solution but quite another to see that solution perform in the real-world. This is where the Greaves approach proves so valuable to our customers.

Greaves make it happen!

Our process is logical. Start small and flexible – but scaleable. We offer a range of services to help customers ensure they get what they need without taking unnecessary investment risks:

  • Laboratory trials
  • Off-site bulk trials
  • On-site bulk trials using rental machines

Greaves do so much more than design and build mixers. We deliver Smart Batch Mixing efficiency to your manufacturing.

Get in touch to see how we can help you benefit from Smart Batch Mixing

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Smart Batch Mixing – at the heart of manufacturing

There is no doubt that the United Kingdom is home to some of the best entrepreneurial manufacturers in the world. While it can be difficult to compete with high volume, low wage economies,  the strength of the UK manufacturing sector is the ability to innovate and embrace new ideas.

Greaves Mixers are privileged to work with many of these brilliant product innovators across many sectors and products, including:

  • Aerospace composites: New resin systems
  • Niche Lubricants: High-performance, low-resistance
  • Speciality adhesives
  • Speciality coatings
  • New materials – graphene
  • Specialty cosmetics
  • Pharma and  healthcare
  • Veterinary pharmaceuticals
  • Speciality construction products
  • Defence systems
  • Consumer products – new fragrances & flavours
  • Vaping liquids

Although these examples may appear diverse, they actually have surprisingly common profiles:

  • High value per litre of product
  • Small batch sizes
  • Large number of recipe variants
  • Need for batch traceability
  • Need for rapid, efficient mixer changeover between product batches
  • Need for product quality and consistency
  • High productivity through short cycle times
  • Rapid cleaning with low residual product wastage
  • Scalability and flexibility to meet rising or fluctuating demand

In summary, they need Smart Batch Mixing to operate efficiently.

With our wealth of mixing expertise coupled with real-world mixer design and manufacturing experience, Greaves is ideally placed to deliver Smart Batch Mixing to meet these needs.

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Your Summer Shutdown

Summer shutdown – a time of opportunity!

Every manufacturer understands the value and importance of properly maintained plant and machinery but maintenance means downtime and downtime means lost production opportunity. Sometimes it can be easy to just keep the plant running and hope for the best!

For most of us, summer means holidays, ice-creams and time for with the family, but life goes on in the world of work and matching the time when production staff want to take holidays with an opportunity to carry out planned maintenance on critical process equipment is a great way to help ensure production efficiency is sustained over the coming year.

While skimping on maintenance may give you a short term opportunity, some level of equipment inefficiency or failure down the line is almost inevitable, and what is the cost then?:


  1. Plant downtime when you can least afford it
  2. Extended delays waiting for delivery of spares
  3. Failure to meet production schedules
  4. Lost opportunities to work for new customers
  5. Delays in delivery of existing orders
  6. Risk of customers looking elsewhere

Have you ever experienced problems resulting from a lack of planned maintenance?

Downtime arising through equipment failure resulting from poor maintenance almost always seems to happen at the worst possible time. What is more, emergency, or other unplanned maintenance, often takes longer to complete and at greater cost. Is it really worth the risk?

Joshua Greaves work with our customers to make sure mixers and associated vessels and other plant are fully maintained and always ready to work.

We have developed this checklist to help make certain nothing is missed as maintenance is scheduled.

If you are looking to refresh your own procedures, we hope it might give you some ideas:


Planned maintenance saves time and money while improving efficiency. Use your summer shutdown wisely
  1. Check stock of critical spares and subsequent replacement procedure
  2. Schedule of repair and personnel availability (in-house or out sourced)
  3. Collate Manufacturers maintenance and safety checklistsVessel – inspection & pressure testing etc.
  4. Mixing system – High shear mixer rotor tolerances, bushes etc..
  5. Shaft seals – lubrication, tolerances etc.
  6. Drive unit
  7. Control panel
  8. Cooling systems
  9. Ancillary equipment

Although many companies successfully run their own maintenance programmes, some people appreciate the support of specialists in making sure equipment maintenance is second to none.

Joshua Greaves have used their experience of mixers and vessels over nearly 100 years to develop MixCare™, a dedicated maintenance service tailored to help keep your processes running efficiently.

If you would like to talk to us about supporting your maintenance programme, we still have small number of MixCare™ introduction appointments available, please visit the Greaves Mixcare™ page for more details

Greaves logo with MixCare Blue strapline

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Safe and Reliable?

Safe, Reliable & Compliant?Backup_200205_ViewPoint2038709_Blast-factory

  1. When was your machinery last safety tested?
  2. Who is responsible?
  3. What’s the real cost of incident or breakdown?
  4. Is the machinery ATEX & safety compliant?
  5. What happens in the event of failure?
  6. What could be done better?

These have always been important questions, but never more so than in todays highly regulated industrial environment

HSE Compliance demands regular machinery inspection and maintenanceCondition Based Maintenance

  • In the latest year, the HSE prosecuted 988 offences, resulting in 881 convictions, a rate of 89%
  • Prosecutions led to fines totalling £16.7 million, an average penalty of £18,944 per offence

Visit the HSE website for full details on Regulation 5 and Regulation 6

Greaves can help you manage your HSE machinery compliance

Greaves mixers and vessels are designed and manufactured to the highest levels of safety to ensure compliance with current and upcoming legislation. However, we find customers have an ever-increasing need for support in ensuring existing equipment is operating to current regulations.

In response to customer requests, we have introduced Greaves MixCareTM:

  • IMG_5247Each Greaves installation receives a 12 point service by a qualified engineer
  • Replacement parts are fitted if required
  • Current process conditions are audited and checked as “fit for purpose”
  • Safety records are audited
  • Stock level of spares is reviewed
  • Inspection certificate is issued with a summary of Recommendations
  • Date set for the next MixCareTM visit 

Benefits of the Greaves MixCareTM service :

  • Confidence that equipment is operating safely and efficiently
  • Confidence that equipment complies with current regulations
  • Reduced risk of downtime due to breakdown
  • Identify opportunities for process improvements

machine graph

Greaves – Demand & Preparation for MixCareTM roll-out

We are preparing for an increase in this proactive approach but need to understand the demand. In order for us to provide the required number of engineers & vehicle fleet we kindly ask to click below on a simple Yes or No to register your interest:

Who last checked the compliance of your mixers, spares stock and any safety records?

IMG_5250CLICK HERE: "YES Please" – We would like to find out more about MixCareTM
CLICK HERE: "NO Thanks" – We have all of these considerations fully covered

“Over the past year, we have seen a significant increase in requests by customers wishing to take a proactive approach to safety, reliability and compliance. The days of reactive maintenance and spares or machine safety adaptions appear to be dwindling. Risks for operators or the cost of machine downtime when the inevitable occurs far outweigh the investment in a proactive approach. Greaves’customers prefer the OEM and our knowledge to support safety & reliability with back-up records”

Greaves logo with MixCare Blue strapline




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Shear Fiction?

Larger is Better – and justifies a higher price tag

Could this be a Sales & Marketing Myth?

Is bigger always better?

Whether it’s an industrial mixer or a domestic vacuum cleaner you are looking to buy, specifying extra power and larger dimensions usually increases cost and space requirements. BUT, in our experience this approach often fails to deliver any improvement in performance or efficiency.

In many cases, including high viscosity mixtures, best results are achieved by a correctly specified mixer with a smaller, lower rated motor.

12x16 Portrait (02)What are we suggesting?:

Outwardly most new Rotor Stator-type or in-line high shear mixers seem very similar in design or appearance. This can result in too much emphasis on one obvious point of difference – the installed motor power.

Surely more power means better mixing? – Well No, that’s not always the case…..

Numbers do matter – but it’s deciding which numbers that is important.

There is a temptation to emphasise a large kW power rating as the ultimate “trump card” in a mixer’s capabilities.

Class leading Rotor to Stator gap tolerances, even at this scale – a 500mm stator – The World’s Largest Rotor Stator head

Perhaps this is because kW is a widely recognised and understood unit of measurement? But when specifying a new mixer, it is not necessarily a particularly helpful one!

We could compare this with a display of vacuum cleaners at an electrical retailer – each proudly displaying ‘3,000 watts’** as a prime selling point. The James Dysons of this world might explain that a far more important number would be the machine’s negative pressure BarG performance and the air intake flowrate!

**Even the EU is getting in on the act with the recent ruling that vacuum cleaners can have motors no larger than 1600W (reducing further to 900W in coming years).

Clearly the word is out that there is more to these machines than motor power!

After all, a vacuum cleaner is essentially an Air Pump used to filter dust-laden air. So… its performance is down to the fan size, peripheral speed, geometry, the rotating element, hosing bore and the seals…..!

Admittedly, this is not everyday terminology but most of us are well aware that certain leading makes of vacuum cleaner achieve greater suction with less power (less bulk, less noise and less energy consumption) – and this is precisely what makes them so successful. (Hats off to Mr. Dyson!)

The same point is illustrated in the way some other categories of equipment are marketed – including paint sprayers and power washers. Both rated in terms of flowrate (litres/min) and pressure (psi) with little mention of motor power.

At Greaves, we know that effective mixing depends on Output Performance, NOT power consumption

Looking at the wide range of mixer designs in our market, we see far too many cases where large amounts of “over specified” power go to waste.

Greaves develop and manufacture mixing machines in the knowledge that it is critical the power being delivered to the fluid is matched as close to the motor power as possible.

However, when the current drawn through the motor in many machines is measured, it is revealed that the mixer is only utilising some 40-50% of the installed power. Measuring your amps and comparing to the installed motor amp rating can be a worthwhile exercise. Often the extra motor power some companies shout about (and may charge more for) is simply pointless.

In reality, more power does not mean better mixing, any more than it means better suction or performance in a vacuum cleaner. It is the diameter of the rotor, its size in relation to the stator, or the gap between them, and the dimensions of the holes in the stator, that makes the difference, and high flowrate figures that should be highlighted – all the truly significant factors that we will examine in detail next time in our follow-up article – Shear Fact

At Greaves, we don’t just sell mixers. We work with our customers to help deliver the best equipment for the job. We are always will to talk so please get in touch to discuss your upcoming requirements

greaveshear- (High Res) - Higher Blue Strap DIN Medium 175 R6 G85 B157