Flexible screw conveyors are widely known as an economical means of screw conveying various dry bulk solid ingredients.
However, they can have a limited range of applications in food plants due to difficult cleanability.
Unlike less sophisticated designs, Spiroflow flexible conveyors can be outfitted with unique features specifically designed for food processing applications like quick release housings and casings.
As a result of these unique food application design features, Spiroflow flexible screw conveyors are used in over 200 snack food plants worldwide... and that is only one of the many food processing applications for which Spiroflow flexible screw conveyors are ideally suited!
Learn more about Spiroflow flexible screw conveyors in snack food plants by clicking on the image below!
April 15, 2013 - Charlotte, NC – Spiroflow Systems, Inc. announces the recent acquisition of the assets of Control & Metering of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. The company, known for their bulk material handling equipment, had filed for bankruptcy on March 20, 2013. Spiroflow Systems acquired all company assets on April 12, 2013.
Spiroflow Systems Chief Operating Officer Cary Moore, and Vice President of Sales & Marketing Mathias Lee concur, ‘We are excited about the ability to further solidify our position as the industry leading provider of material handling solutions with the addition of Control & Metering’s patented Bulk Bag Filling and Discharging technology. This, coupled with an expanded presence in Canada will allow us to broaden our sales, engineering, manufacturing and services capabilities for our continually growing global customer base.’
Spiroflow Systems will open operations in the Toronto Area under the name ‘Control & Metering, A Spiroflow Company.’ Spiroflow hopes to retain key company personnel to ensure a seamless transition for both companies’ customers.
For over 40 years, Spiroflow has designed, engineered and manufactured its industry leading line of material handling solutions. A worldwide supplier of powder handling engineering and equipment, Spiroflow offers the industry’s most comprehensive line of mechanical conveying equipment with a wide range of standard and custom options for both small and large volume users. Products include bulk bag dischargers and fillers, flexible screw, aero mechanical, tubular cable drag, tubular chain drag and pneumatic conveyors, box, sack and drum dump stations, and the ‘Pacepacker’ range of automatic packing, pick and place and robotic palletizing solutions.
For More Information Contact Spiroflow Systems at 704.246.0900
Control and Metering Limited is pleased and proud to announce two new product lines:
- Material handling conveyors
- Raimo Big Bag Dispenser
Material Handling Conveyor Systems, Equipment and Parts
Control and Metering now offers its own extensive line of material handling conveyors
and related equipment, parts and systems. Products include:
- Roller conveyors
- Belt conveyors
- Chain conveyors
- Slat conveyors
- Table top conveyors
- Lineshaft conveyors
- Gravity conveyors
- Vertical conveyors and lifts
- Pallet dispensers and pallet stackers
- Scissor lifts
- Custom designed material handling and conveyor systems
- Spare parts for many/most makes of conveyor equipment
Raimo Bulk Bag Dispenser
is an inexpensive and easy way to discharge bulk bags up to 1,000 Kg. Designed for both agriculture and industrial applications where free flowing, granular type ingredients like fertilizer, seed, fish feed, plastics and others are shipped in bulk bags.
Simply twisting the Raimo into the side of a bulk bag near the bottom of one side panel allows the operator to easily dispense ingredient.
The manual slide gate valve integrated into the Raimo's unique design
allows the operator to regulate the flow and dispense only as much ingredient as is required. Closing the integral valve allows the easy and safe storage of unused ingredient in the bulk bag.
One of the most overlooked keys to bulk bag filling success is training. This post reviews how properly trained operators facilitate a much more productive bulk bag filling operation.
Preparing the bulk bag for rigging.
On the surface rigging an empty bulk bag to a piece of filling equipment appears simple indeed: attach the four loops and the inlet spout and that’s it.
Of course, those are the basic tasks, but how an operator accomplishes these tasks determines whether it is a minutes long struggle or a 30 second or less fast task.
Properly preparing the bulk bag to be rigged is the first, absolutely critical, step to minimizing bulk bag rigging time and hassle.
While a bulk bag is being filled the operator should prepare the next for rigging. Preparation involves the following steps:
- Unfold the bulk bag and expand it by stretching out the top corners.
- Unfold the inlet spout. Many operators find that folding over the lip of the inlet spout to form a collar makes it much easier to slide the spout over the fill head.
- Place the bulk bag within easy reach of the rigging position.
Rigging the bulk bag.
There is a simple and effective way to minimize motion and time when rigging a bulk bag.
- When the bulk bag filler is ready for a bulk bag to be rigged, pick up the bulk bag with the aft loops on each side held in each hand.
- Rig the aft loops first.
- Then rig the front loops.
- Only then should the inlet spout be slid over the bulk bag filler’s fill head.
Rigging a bulk bag in this sequence guarantees that the operator does not have support the full weight of the bag and wrestle with it during rigging.
Average operators can easily rig a bulk bag in 30 seconds or less following this procedure.
Using bulk bag filling equipment.
Generally, bulk bag filling equipment is easy to use when initiating a filling cycle.
However, in any operation things go wrong occasionally and operators who have been trained to properly suspend the filling operation in mid-bag and re-start the filling process after the problem has been solved minimize lost productivity.
There are times when bulk bag filling must be aborted mid-bag (due to upstream problems or a host of other reasons). Again, operators who know how to safely abort bulk bag filling and remove a partially filled bulk bag minimize down time.
Tying Off The Bulk Bag Inlet.
Many bulk bag filling operations can instantly made more productive simply by tying off the inlet spout outside of the filler instead of within it.
When a bag has been filled and is ready to be removed from the filler do not tie off the inlet spout before the bag is removed.
Instead, remove the bulk bag, rig the next and start the filling cycle, then tie off the spout of the bag that was just removed from the filler.
This applies to both automatic bag removal and forklift removal systems. Immediately initiating the next fill cycle and then tying off the just-filled bag is always the most efficient method - even if the forklift operator has to wait for the filler operator to tie off the inlet.
Operators trained to accomplish these simple tasks will consistently perform to a higher level of productivity.
Read on to learn how to fill lined bulk bags.
Typically, bulk bag liners are made from polyethylene film and are, in effect, ‘inner bags’ that are placed within a bulk bag or FIBC. The product contacts the liner not the bulk bag.
There are generally two types of liners: loose and form fit.
- Loose liners: a cylinder of PE film that is stuffed into the bag. Loose liners are occasionally glued to the bulk bag.
- Form fit liners: a PE film ‘container’ that looks just like a bulk bag (four sides, top and bottom, inlet and outlet spouts) that is placed within the bulk bag. Often, form fit liners are attached to the bulk bag by various methods including tabs that are sewn into the top (and sometimes bottom) seams of the bag.
Filling Bulk Bags with Loose Liners
The most critical factor in filling a bulk bag with a loose liner is to ensure that the liner has expanded and ‘taken’ the cubic shape of the bulk bag before it is filled. Otherwise, there is a high probability that the unexpanded loose liner will have folds in it that the product will fill over thereby making it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to discharge.
Blowing air into the liner, generally referred to as inflation, is the quickest and easiest method to expand a loose liner. A fan blower can be used or a device called an eductor connected to a source of compressed air that draws in ambient air are the two most common inflation methods.
The other consideration when filling loose liners is to allow the inlet of the liner to slide down as the bag is being filled while still maintaining a secure grip. If the liner inlet is held so that it cannot move it is highly likely the top corners of the bag will not be filled because the liner will form a peak extending from the fill head where it is clamped to somewhere down the sides of the bag. In this case it would be impossible to fill the bag to target weight unless the bag is significantly oversized.
Filling Bulk Bags With Form Fit Liners
If your bulk bag filler is designed so that the bulk bag rests on a pallet or other flat surface throughout the filling cycle even bags with form fit liners that are attached to the outer bulk bag should be inflated. Otherwise, as with loose liners, the bag may be folded or creased in such a way that the product will fill over the folds or creases thereby impeding discharge and the ability to completely fill the bulk bag.
However, if your bulk bag filler features ‘hang filling’ where the bulk bag spends part of the filling cycle hanging suspended from its loops, inflating form fit liners is unnecessary.
A manufacturer of bulk ingredients that enjoys robust export sales were satisfied with their bulk bagging operation. Based on the bulk density of the product and their bulk bag filling equipment - 6 bulk bagging lines in 2 plants - they were able to achieve payload weights of 1,900 lb per big bag.
However, bulk bag stability was sometimes an issue and customer complaints regarding safety and efficient bulk bag handling were increasing.
Control and Metering suggested an Optimization Analysis that would investigate every aspect of the manufacturer's bulk bagging operations including upstream product distribution to the bagging lines, the filling equipment and processes, handling, storage and shipping.
The Optimization Analysis was comprised of three steps;
- Preliminary Analysis. Conducted over the phone, a one hour session with the manufacturer's production and logistics teams delved into every nook and cranny of their bulk bag operation and provided a wealth of data. Careful analysis revealed that the application of Control and Metering's cone table densification technology could likely solve the instability problem and potentially increase bulk bag payload weight thereby reducing packaging and shipping costs.
- Detailed Analysis. A site visit was arranged to verify the preliminary data and assess the feasibility of making changes to the packaging lines. During this visit the scope of a potential project to improve bulk bagging began to take shape.
- ROI Analysis. Refinement of the preliminary analysis based on the information gathered during the site visit supported the initial indications that the instability problem could be solved and operating costs reduced. An economic analysis revealed that, based on the manufacturer's annual bulk bag shipments of approximately 160 million lb, increasing the bag payload weight between 10% and 15% could save over $525k in shipping costs (based on a conservative cost per shipping container of $1,000). Since increasing the payload per bag means that fewer bulk bags are required, a further annual saving of $175K could be realized simply because they could buy fewer big bags.
Clearly, the potential annual operating cost savings were significant. This quickly led to testing at Control and Metering that confirmed both the elimination of the instability problem and that the increased payload weight per bag could be achieved.
When compared against the total cost of the project required to convert their existing bulk bagging lines to cone table technology, the simple payback of the project was less than 12 months!
The above story is a real life example of an Optimization Analysis can reveal significant financial and operational improvements even with a bulk bagging operation where the status quo is perceived as being just fine or almost perfect.
Note that the Optimization Analysis phase including the site visit and testing were provided without cost to the manufacturer - this is a standard feature of Control and Metering's Optimization offering.
Finally, the manufacturer in this case ships a LOT of product in bulk bags. If your company or facility ships significantly less product than 160 million lb/year there can still easily be a very attractive profit improvement opportunity lying dormant in your plant.
Annual shipping totals of even as low as 10,000 bags can still generate financially attractive opportunities with simple paybacks less than 24 months. A preliminary analysis session over the phone will reveal whether your plant can improve its profit while potentially solving nagging operational problems!
Answer 8 simple, bulk bag operation questions to see if your plant can benefit from a Control and Metering Optimization Analysis!
For more information contact Joe Natale at joe@ControlandMetering.com or 416-473-1500.
In this article we examine an excellent alternative to paddle style bulk bag unloaders: the hopper style bulk bag discharger.
This is a relatively simple design that requires no moving parts (other than a totally enclosed electric vibrator) that has proven to be, in comparison to paddle style dischargers, easy and safe to use, excellent at containing dust and extremely effective at inducing flow.
Further, hopper style big bag unloaders do not require outlet spout clamps to try and solve inherent design problems as do paddle style dischargers (although as you will learn below, hopper style dischargers and outlet spout clamps are two of three design elements that comprise total dust containment bulk bag dischargers!).
A major Caribbean beverage producer - juices, soft drinks, etc. - wanted to improve productivity related to sugar handling.
Their current process involved manually breaking 50 Kg bags at multiple locations. Not only was this labor intensive, but it was soon to be a bottleneck that would impede planned increases in production output.
Working with their primary sugar supplier, one of the largest sugar brokers in the region, and Control and Metering, the beverage company created a plan to achieve their productivity goals and increase the scale of their sugar handling to meet higher production rates by changing incoming sugar packaging to big bags and designing a new sugar batching system.
Big Bags versus Small Bags
Handling sugar required six operators continuously breaking and dumping 50 Kg bags at three locations.
Plus, the 50 Kg bags had to be unloaded from shipping containers one bag at a time and placed in storage manually. This also required multiple operators.
Converting to big bags would allow container unloading to be performed by one operator with a forklift.
Instead of six operators breaking bags at three locations, current production and planned growth for the next two years could be managed by one operator and two automated big bag batching stations.
Batching Sugar from Big Bags
The big bag sugar batching systems were designed to precisely convey sugar to syrup mixing tanks to produce standard brix syrup that would be pumped to all of the beverage production lines in the plant.
Each big bag batching system included a Control and Metering F60 monorail big bag discharger, an incline screw conveyor and an automated batch weighing control system.
Big bags would be moved to the production area and the single sugar batching operator would move individual big bags to each of the two big bag batching stations using a pallet truck. The big bag would then we rigged to a lifting frame and placed into the F60 big bag discharger using an integral hoist and trolley.
The operator would then safely open the big bag outlet spout within the F60 hopper to initiate sugar flow and, by pressing a single button on the control panel, start the batch.
The automated batch weighing system would then control the conveying of sugar from the big bag to the syrup mixing tank according to the syrup recipe.
Economic Benefit of Converting from Small Bags to Big Bags
The fully benefited labor rate at this location is $2.72 USD per hour. Even at this relatively low rate (compared to North America and elsewhere), first year labor savings were calculated to be $152,000 USD with second year savings of $196,000 USD based on increased production.
This resulted in a simple payback for the project of only 21 months. Clearly, the ROI on this project was very attractive!
For more information contact Don@ControlandMetering.com.
Bulk bag conditioners have become increasingly popular over the past few years. However, there is still much confusion on the part of bulk bag users regarding what conditioners do and when they should be used.
Bulk Bag Conditioners - How They Work
There are many specific designs on the market, but they all perform the same function: breaking up solidified ingredient in bulk bags.
Some designs use multiple squeezing attachments on 2 or more sides. Others (like the Control and Metering Bag Squeezer) use only two squeezing poles. Most are hydraulically driven, but there are a few that rely on air pressure to provide the squeezing force.
Bulk Bag Conditioning Automation
Most bulk bag conditioners are specifically designed to have one bulk bag placed manually in the conditioner and then manually removed. However, some designs (at least one!) can be configured in an automated system that allows bulk bags to be staged and fed into and removed from the squeezer automatically. This can dramatically reduce the amount of time required to squeezer bulk bags and significantly increase productivity.
Bulk Bag Conditioners - When To Use Them
Bulk bag conditioners are designed to break up ingredient that has 'set' in a bulk bag. This situation results in what is essentially a solid block of ingredient that must be broken up for it to flow through the bulk bag's outlet spout. There are some situations where the ingredient has not set into one block, but instead has several very large pieces that have solidified.
Bulk bag conditioners are NOT designed to break up softball or football or basketball sized chunks of ingredient. In that case, a lump breaker is required to break up the lumps.
Recently, we engaged with a customer that a few years ago had spent over $2 million with another vendor on an 18 station, automated bulk bag batching system. Depending on the recipe some or all of the 18 different ingredients are simultaneously metered onto a common belt conveyor for transfer to one of two mixers. Each station dispenses its ingredient in specific batch weights according to the recipe.
Unfortunately, the system doesn't work.
Individual ingredient batch weights are inaccurate and vary both above and below the weight setpoint and the variations are random. Therefore, the total recipe weights are inconsistent and are randomly under or over weight.
As a result, they have had to go back to adding most of the ingrdients by hand and use the automated system for only four or five ingredients.
The customer asked Control and Metering if we had any ideas that might help them. Based on a very brief overview of the system and how it operates we identified two key factors that we believe may be root causes of the weighing problem. These factors are critical to achieving success with any batching system.
- Dry bulk solid metering device selection. The 18 ingredients vary dramatically in their bulk density, particle size distribution and flow characteristics. Each station must be optimized for its ingredient so that the bulk bag discharger maintains a steady flood feed condition to the metering device and so that the metering device is properly selected to maintain a constant - and therefore accurate - feed rate when it is dispensing its batch. In this case, vibratory feeders were supplied at every station, which appear to be inneffective with many of the ingredients.
- Batch weighing structure integrity. Each of the 18 bulk bag batching stations are constructed of 3" steel tubing and the metering devices - vibratory feeders - are suspended below each frame on chains. Load cells are located under each of the bulk bag discharger legs. We suspect that the overal structure lacks integrity and may well exhibit hysteresis - the frame subtly shifts each batch run or series of batch runs and the weighing system physically alters its orientation - perhaps by only millimeters - between batches. Further, it may be that frame flexing occurs during batch operation. Both of these phenomenon, if they are occuring, would lead to random batch inaccuracies. The weigh frame or weighed structure must be designed to avoid frame flexing and deformation so that the weighing system remains structurally rigid from batch to batch.
As can be seen, a properly designed bulk bag batching system must be designed specifically for each ingredient. Unless multiple ingredients are similar in bulk density and flow characteristics, it is highly likely that each station will have its own optimum design solution.