Operators give thumbs up to closed system

Operators give thumbs up to closed system
Operators give thumbs up to closed system

Extensive testing of a closed transfer system (CTS) by some of the UK’s leading sprayer operators shows it is not only considerably safer and easier than pouring, but in most cases it’s also faster.

An industry-wide initiative has made lot of progress into developing a closed transfer system (CTS) in a relatively short time, with adoption of a universal cap and the production of a practical coupler.

Universal cap design

Key to its success is not just its design, but also thanks to an unprecedented joint effort among six leading chemical manufacturers, who have agreed to work on piloting a universal cap design, which they will fit to all of their containers, and this is fundamental to the success of CTS.

Adama, BASF, Corteva Agriscience, Certis Europe, NuFarm and Syngenta are all participating in this new initiative and there are plans to replace existing caps with the new easyconnect cap in the UK from 2022.

The standardised closure is a 63mm easyconnect cap, which ensures containers from different manufacturers will all connect into the same closed transfer system.

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What is closed transfer?

A CTS system is designed to dispense liquids while completely isolating the process from the operator and environment. Once connected, the closed system prevents any liquid leakage during transfer and then rinses all the contaminated surfaces before the container is released.

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Manufacturers participating in the CTS initiative have agreed to use the easyconnect as the universal cap on their products.

Manufacturers participating in the CTS initiative have agreed to use the easyconnect as the universal cap on their products.

How does CTS work?

Trials are currently being carried out in the UK and across Europe with a prototype coupler for use with easyconnect caps. The coupler on test will be called the Cleanload Nexus, and it being developed by Pentair Hypro in conjunction with BASF in co-operation with a consortium of others in the industry.

This is designed to accept the new standardised easyconnect cap. “Having a universal cap is the key element in the system and importantly, it will be available to all the chemical manufacturers,” explains Roger James, from Pentair Hypro.

The cap remains on the container throughout the process – it does not need to be removed. The opening is covered by a tamper/dust-proof cap, which is taken off to reveal an inner plug – which retains the product. This is held tightly in place by series of tabs on its outer edge – allowing it to be removed and, crucially, locked back into place.

To connect to the Cleanload Nexus coupler operators simply remove the dust cap, invert the container and place it onto the dock on the top of the coupler. It is then locked and sealed in place by rotating the main handle. As the handle is moved further, a probe engages the cap’s inner plug and raises it into the container so that product can be drawn out by suction from the induction hopper’s venturi. A separate hose allows air to enter the container, ensuring rapid emptying.

To dispense part of a container the operator uses the lever to control the flow and read off the scale on the side of the container, or on an external calibrated tube into which the product is measured before being dispensed into the sprayer tank.

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After simply removing the dust cap, the inverted container is placed onto the dock on the top of the coupler and locked in place with the lever.

After simply removing the dust cap, the inverted container is placed onto the dock on the top of the coupler and locked in place with the lever.

Quick rinse

When the can is empty a small lever activates the rinse water and it’s possible to rotate the container by hand to improve cleaning. After rinsing, the main lever is pulled back towards its closed position, the probe is withdrawn from the can and the plug clips back in place.

Turning on the rinse water again cleans the outer surface of the plug and cap, which is also important to do with partially empty cans. After releasing a safety lock, the handle can be rotated further to release the container. Interlocks prevent accidental rotation during rinsing operations.

Like all things, it’s harder to explain that it is to actually carry out. Most operators in the trial say the whole procedure takes less than one minute from picking up the can to placing it on a draining rack.

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Operators testing the system say the containers empty faster than pouring. They are then rinsed on the system before they are removed.

Operators testing the system say the containers empty faster than pouring. They are then rinsed on the system before they are removed.

Cleaner, faster and safer

Andrew Myatt has been using and testing the CTS since 2017 at Stowell Park Estate, near Northleach in the Cotswolds, in the UK. He has installed the system in his undercover filling area.

“Overall I have been impressed. It really is faster than pouring and it is it’s speed that will make it a success,” he says. “It’s cleaner, faster and safer – why would you not want to use it? While we are all careful when measuring and pouring into an induction hopper there is always a chance of spillages and splashes – it happens and CTS massively reduces the risks.”

UK sprayer operator, Andrew Myatt, says: “It really is faster than pouring and it is it’s speed that will make it a success.”

UK sprayer operator, Andrew Myatt, says: “It really is faster than pouring and it is it’s speed that will make it a success.”

Roberts
Mick Roberts Freelance journalist