Weighing and metering expert Rospen has invested £100,000 in a new hi-tech lab to improve precision when it comes to hopper design.

The business, based in Haslingden, Lancashire, is saving time and money for customers, from water companies to food manufacturers, after installing the powder flow tester.

The purchase is part of a package of investments Rospen has made to bring previously outsourced services into the business to gain greater control over the quality of projects.

Usually, the powder handling machinery built by Rospen is created based on engineers’ extensive knowledge of different powders and the way they behave.

The lab, installed by Brookfield Engineering, accurately assesses powder flow behaviour to inform the design of Rospen’s processing equipment.

It means machinery can be made to precise specifications, whether built to handle coffee beans, building aggregates or hazardous chemicals.

The investment was made after Rospen began a project where the customer provided their own lab report of powders to be handled. The results enabled Rospen’s engineers to build machinery to exact requirements, saving time and money. Seeing the benefits, the business decided to make the investment to add the hi-tech equipment to the factory.

Technical director Grant McGeever said: “All powders behave differently, which means they discharge from hoppers in different ways. Previously we’d build equipment based on the experience and knowledge of our engineers, but having accurate readings at our fingertips removes any guesswork, meaning we get it right first time.

“There are benefits to us and the customer because we don’t have to potentially go back and make modifications, so we can reduce lead times.”

One customer had experienced issues with a screw feeder discharging powder. When the Rospen lab tested the powder, it was found that the business had bought the wrong type, leading to the issues.

“Without the lab, we’d have been going back and forth trying to solve the problem,” said Grant. “This is just one in a package of investments we’re making to improve the manufacturing process for our customers, both in the UK and around the world.”

Rospen’s other investments include the purchase of a £20,000 spray booth, enabling the business to carry out paintwork onsite rather than outsourcing the process. A laser marking machine has also been added to the site to enable serial plates to be produced inhouse rather than by a third party.