The final phase of powder production typically involves a mixing process where all of the particles are combined and agglomerated with a binder to form a single compound. The traditional means of inspecting the physical properties of the final product involves an inspection of the particle sizes using an offline sieving and weighing process. The main downside of this technique, in addition to being an offline-only measurement procedure, is its inability to characterise large agglomerates of powders due to sieve blockage. This work assesses the feasibility of a real-time monitoring approach using a benchtop test rig and a prototype acoustic-based measurement approach to provide information that can be correlated to product quality and provide the opportunity for future process optimisation. Acoustic emission (AE) was chosen as the sensing method due to its low cost, simple setup process, and ease of implementation. The performance of the proposed method was assessed in a series of experiments where the offline quality check results were compared to the AE-based real-time estimations using data acquired from a benchtop powder free flow rig. A designed time domain based signal processing method was used to extract particle size information from the acquired AE signal and the results show that this technique is capable of estimating the required ratio in the washing powder compound with an average absolute error of 6%.
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