A better way to bulk bag

Online Editor

Tips to help improve efficiency in the bagging process.

Manufacturers in the food and beverage sector continually seek methods to boost their operational efficiency and are often prepared to invest in superior machinery when the expected returns justify this. However, the potential advantages of upgrading bulk bag filling systems are frequently underestimated.

In food and beverage processing, bulk bag filling stations play a pivotal role in ingredient packaging, enhancing the speed and efficiency of the packing procedure. With an array of models available, these systems range from hand-operated setups to semi-automated units. Semi-automated fillers can significantly increase productivity and the bagging rate by automatically introducing a pallet to the machine and removing filled bags, reducing the time required to manually handle every pallet and filled bag.

While many systems enhance the speed of bagging operations, there is a continual opportunity to refine and improve efficiency and output. By integrating advanced bulk bag filling equipment, companies can realise substantial gains.

“These types of upgrades can substantially reduce operating costs, increase production throughput, reduce shipping costs, and even help processors recover lost revenue,” says Don Mackrill from Automated Handling Solutions (AHS), a provider of engineering solutions that incorporate specialty conveyor, material handling, and automation equipment technologies.

Within the portfolio of solutions offered by AHS is Spiroflow, a company that offers a comprehensive range of bulk filling and discharging equipment, including bulk bag fillers, bulk bag unloaders, and additional equipment needed for automated bulk handling of materials.

Mackrill, who is a a material handling and system integration expert, provides the following tips to help to cost-effectively optimise the bulk bag filling process.

Improve weighing accuracy to recover lost revenue

Products sold by weight must be filled to the advertised weight. To avoid the possibility of underfilling, manufacturers frequently opt to fill packages more than necessary, which results in lost revenue that can accumulate over time. Inconsistent fill weights only increase potential losses.

“Processors don’t get paid for the extra pounds they overfill the bag. If they can improve the weighing accuracy, they are not giving away as much free produce,” says Mackrill.

Switching to a bulk bag filler that offers precise weighing accuracy can effectively resolve this issue.

When the bagging rate exceeds 30–35 bags/hr. pre-weighing the material in a hopper above the filler should also be considered.

“Pre-weighing the ‘shot’ of material while a bag is being densified and removed from the system and the next bag is rigged, significantly increases the bagging rate,” says Mackrill. He notes that some bulk bag filler systems such as the CTE from Spiroflow are capable of filling more than 40 bags per hour if the material is pre-weighed.

To further enhance the precision of weighing, it is important to consistently fill hoppers with equal amounts of material and align this process with the pace of bagging operations.

Accuracy to recover lost revenue

Upgrading bulk bag filling equipment to a more efficient system that can compact or densify the material in each bag is another opportunity to reduce costs. One effective strategy for doing this is to efficiently increase the density of the product in each bag. This can lead to an operating facility purchasing smaller bulk bags while still shipping the same quantity of product.

On the other hand, for powders with bulk density of less than 25–30 lbs./ft^3, it may be possible to increase the product capacity within the existing bag size. This allows food and beverage processors to consistently approach the maximum weight restrictions permitted on truck trailers and avoid additional shipping expenses incurred when the weight falls below the limit.

Mackrill notes that enhancing material densification leads to a “ripple effect” of savings.

“You’ll weigh out every trailer and over time fewer trailers will be required to transport the total product weight within a specific timeframe. Additionally, the increased capacity of each bulk bag results in filling fewer bags, thereby reducing packaging costs,” explains Mackrill.

Another benefit is improved bag stability. Some dry materials will entrap or entrain air between the particles more than others, and those that do require more vibration or densification to drive out the air between the particles. When that is not the case, the bulk bags can become unstable and tip and fall during transport, handling, or storage. This can put operators at risk of injury, damage product, and increase operational costs.

Food and beverage manufacturers who acknowledge the untapped potential of optimising their bulk bag filling systems stand to reap considerable rewards. As the crux of efficient packaging operations, precise and automated bulk bag filling solutions can help food and beverage processors increase productivity and streamline operational costs in a way that is sure to positively impact the bottom line.