Real-time analyzer, real-life learning experience

Students on the Process and Environmental Technology course at the HTWG Konstanz in Germany, at the University of Applied Sciences, are putting well-taught theory into convincing practice using an Insitec real-time particle size analyzer, from Malvern Instruments, to study and control particulate process performance. Seeing and exploring the impact of real-time measurement in this way helps students to understand the role automation can play in transforming manufacturing efficiency.

“There really is no substitute for practical experience,” observes Prof. Dr. Dieter Schwechten, “so it strengthens our teaching to have this type of facility available. Each year, 25 to 30 students from the course see for themselves how real-time particle sizing transforms mill or classifier control. With automation so well established across manufacturing industries this is increasingly important. We try to continuously modernize our lab equipment to teach state-of-the art- technologies and supply industry with the highly skilled engineers needed. It’s an approach that seems to work as our graduates never have problems getting a job!”

As part of the school’s Particle Technology course (6th term), students are introduced to the benefits of real-time particle sizing via practical opportunities to operate different types of equipment such as classifiers, jet mills, impact mills and pancake mills. Seeing the benefits of automation, both of analysis and control, is a central part of the experience and provides valuable insight into the processing challenges faced by specific industries.

“We now have students who have gained their first experience of operation on this pilot plant, have gone on to work with Malvern as interns, and then ultimately to work for the company on a permanent basis,” continues Prof Schwechten. “This suggests that the pilot plant experience helps to ignite enthusiasm and interest for particle technology in general. And its value doesn’t stop there. I use the plant to support industrial customers in a number of ways, through mill optimization studies, for example, or by providing batches of precisely milled material.”

The Hochschule facility operates at capacities in the region of 0.5 to 3 kg/hr. This throughput, in combination with the flexibility to operate with different mill and classifier types and the availability of real-time monitoring, make it highly suitable for optimization studies and the production of kilogram scales batches of material. For example, recent studies using a pancake mill have focused on the production of batch samples of different sugars with a required fineness (Dv90) of between 10 and 40 microns.

As well as allowing Prof Schwechten to offer a range of consultancy/manufacturing services the facility also supports his ongoing research. Here a key focus is selective grinding and separation/ fractionation technology using different particulate physical methods, to improve recovery and quality in food and recycling processes.

To find out more about Professor Schwecten’s work email him at or follow these links: (German) (English)

To find out more about Insitec visit the Malvern Instruments website

Malvern, Malvern Instruments, and Insitec are registered trademarks of Malvern Instruments Ltd