Setting up an edible oil manufacturing plant is far from a breeze. Maybe you already have a detailed business plan and a to-do list a mile long: zeroing in on a viable market, identifying high quality raw material suppliers, procuring an oil expeller or a few, and hunting down skilled professionals to oversee day-to-day operations. And we bet this list only gets longer, with hardly any hope of ever including and checking off everything you need to do to get your oil extraction operation up and running.
We hear you and we’re here to tell you everything you need to know when you’re exploring the oil expeller machine market. In this article, you can expect to find a comprehensive guide to procuring the oil expeller you need, while partnering with the oil expeller manufacturer who will support you every step of the way.
So let’s get straight to it.
What is mechanical extraction?
Before we get into the nitty-gritties of oil expeller price and technical specifications, we have to ask: why do you need an oil expeller machine? What does an oil expeller even do? Well, the answer to these questions lies in the oil extraction process.
When oil is extracted from any plant-based oil-bearing material – it could be seeds, nuts, fruit or bran – there are two main routes you could take to extract your oil from it: mechanical extraction or solvent extraction. (You could also use a combination of the two methods or a specialty extraction process, though the latter is much rarer.) Solvent extraction, as the name suggests, involves the use of a solvent, typically hexane, to extract a high yield of oil – great for large scale operations. But that’s not our focus today.
An expeller press – also referred to as an oil press, oil expeller, or oil expeller machine – is employed when you want to use the mechanical extraction process. This technique is fairly straightforward: it uses pressure to extrude oil from the seeds, nuts or other oil-bearing materials. Generally, an expeller press comprises a screw inside a cylindrical shaft within which the oil-bearing material is crushed (with the friction also generating some heat). While the expelled oil is collected for use or for further processing, the remainder of the crushed oilseeds – pressed closely together into a compact cake – either go through solvent extraction to extrude more oil from them or they are redirected to industries like feed mills where they serve as high-protein raw materials.
There you have it. The use that your oil expeller will be put to. So next question: what are the features and components of a high quality, durable, and efficient oil expeller machine?
Assessing oil expeller machine features
If you intend to set up a groundnut oil extraction facility, your equipment will likely be a bit different compared to if you plan to extract, say, palm kernel oil. Based on oil content, material hardness, and desired quality of final product, the equipment best suited to your needs will differ. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Nonetheless, there are some basic components of the oil expeller – like the gear box, main worm shaft, and the filter – that you should examine closely to make sure that the product specifications serve your particular purpose.
Let’s take a look at some of the options you may find on offer when you do your research.
Gear box. The gear box is what will power your expeller press’ operations. It converts the speed and torque of your electric motor into the desired speed and pressure settings for your oil expelling machine. A good gear box will help you control motor speed accurately. This is essential for the safety of not only your workforce, but also the machinery itself. All good oil expeller machines come with gear boxes that are equipped with failsafe mechanisms. High efficiency external gear boxes are ideal, as they allow for maintenance and adjustment without having to dismantle your equipment for maintenance or repair.
Material of construction. Across the world, oil extraction equipment, especially expeller press machines, are constructed of different materials. Oil expeller machine manufacturers may rely on cast iron, aluminium or any other material that gets the job done. But just getting the job done isn’t enough. It is important to get the job done safely and efficiently. This means keeping in mind the climactic conditions in which the machine will operate, whether it is prone to rusting or corrosion, and whether it can provide the strength required to not only extract oil, but also withstand the high pressures and temperatures that are generated in the process. In most situations, stainless steel – which Kumar relies on – is the best option. Not only is it durable, but it also translates to lower maintenance and repair costs for you. Further, when the movable components are specially treated like they are at Kumar, you can be sure that once you’re machine is up and running, you won’t have the headaches that come with purchasing equipment made of cheaper, but lower quality materials.
Oil collection and filtration mechanisms. Some expellers are equipped with a drainage section in the inlet feed hopper (which is where raw materials are funneled into the press) to prevent backward migration of oil from plugging the machine. The special feature of Kumar expellers are the built-in screw conveyors. These fully-enclosed systems convey oil efficiently while keeping the shop floor clean and your processes running smoothly.
Further, when oil is extracted using an oil expeller, there are usually some amount of fines in it. Naturally, you will have to refine the oil further to bleach it, deodorize it, eliminate any unwanted free fatty acids or metal contaminants, and more. But a good expeller press will also have filtration technology for initial impurity removal. Vibro separators and filter presses are ideal for an initial filtration of your crude oil, yielding a clear oil output which needs minimal further refining.
Worm shaft and pressure worm. When it comes to worm shafts, there are myriad variations to choose from. In an ideal scenario, you should be able to remove the worm shaft quickly and easily without disturbing the gear box assembly. Pressure worms with hard, thick, uniform, and durable facing parts do the trick. Most interestingly, Kumar’s pressure worms come with special welding electrodes which help you achieve the desired hardness conveniently.
Main cages. The main cage encloses the section of the expeller press where the magic happens. The best cages are hinged so that when it’s time for cleaning, repair or maintenance, you can quickly, safely and effortlessly open up your machinery. Further, clamping bars and bolts which are easy to tighten and easy to remove may seem like an insignificant feature, but they can do so much to accelerate your cleaning and maintenance schedules.
Looking beyond just product features
Yes, the product and what it can do is at the very centre of your purchase decision. Nonetheless, there are some other things you should factor in before you settle on an oil expeller machine.
Understanding capacity requirements. This step involves understanding not only the oil plant capacities which are on offer, but the capacity that you will need to achieve your oil production goals. Most oil mills have capacities ranging from 1 TPD to 5000 TPD. However, the right oil expeller manufacturer will be able to adapt to your requirements. So make sure you have a clear idea of the desired scale of your project and the specifications of the oil extraction process, be if for cottonseed oil, castor oil or shea butter, before you make any other decisions regarding infrastructure, personnel, or raw material sourcing.
Assessing ROI. Making a purchase decision based solely on price is never a good idea. But we can’t deny that oil expeller price does factor in, sometimes more than you would like it to. To make sure you’re making a good decision, assess the return you can expect on your investment in an expensive oil expeller. Remember to factor in not just capital expenses, but also operating costs in your overall investment. Also include the costs of repair and maintenance – which can be reduced by means of annual maintenance contracts – when assessing what your total investment will be.
Building a relationship. Purchasing an oil expeller is not just about picking an oil expeller. It is about building a relationship, a symbiotic partnership, with the oil expeller machine manufacturers you choose to associate with. So if you had to choose between multiple machines that did the job just as you like, make sure to go ahead with the oil expeller manufacturer whose values, culture and approach to work resonate with yours.
That’s all for this article. But your journey navigating the oil expeller market has only just begun. For everything else you need to know, reach out to us at Kumar. With over 80 years of process engineering experience in the oils and fats industry, we’re sure to be able to provide the solutions you need. You can speak to any of our 500+ happy customers, our biggest champions, and you won’t hesitate to partner with us and benefit from our dependable service.
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Since 1939, Kumar has been delivering dependable process engineering solutions to the oils and fats industry. We're known for our robustly engineered, versatile, and operationally profitable plant and machinery. It's why customers all over the world depend on us to solve their processing challenges, big or small. If you'd like to know more about our solutions, please fill out the form below:
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