A state-of-the-art fully automatic drum filling machine has dramatically increased filling safety standards and efficiencies at Henkel Technologies.
The machine was designed and manufactured locally by Flex Pack to Henkel’s specifications following the roll-out of a new global safety standard.
Previously, Henkel employees were manually filling drums with toxic chemicals wearing protective equipment, however the innovative design of Flex Pack’s new filling system means Henkel workers are now completely isolated from dangerous liquids and fumes.
“It was essential that we had a machine that protected the operator,” Henkel’s engineering and maintenance manager, Peter Petrucci said.
“Before, the filling was all done manually with the guys lifting drums onto pallets, but this new machine is fully automatic and the guys just love it because it makes life so much easier for them, it’s safer, and while it’s filling, they can walk away and do something else.”
The system is comprised of a powered roller conveyer with a fully enclosed central filling room. The machine is a three-axis robotic system with a PLC behind a polycarbonate screen to completely isolate the operator from liquids and fumes.
“It’s an unusual system because it had to handle extremely dangerous chemical while still being efficient to operate,” Flex Pack’s director, Mark Brown said.
“There is nothing else that we know of that was built in Australia and does the same thing.”
The fill head is made from polypropylene and is immune to the effects of aggressive chemicals.
Sensors on the end of the fill head detect the amount of liquid filling into the container and are capable of accuracy to 0.3 of a millilitre whether filling 20, 200 or 1000-litre containers.
“It has virtually eliminated spill risks,” Petrucci said.
“We wanted it to predominantly handle toxic chemicals but because of the ease of it, it can handle anything. The machine does weighing automatically which allows the operator to do other things while it’s filling. It’s quite a unique and fascinating machine.”
The system complies with the Australian standard AS4024 Cat 3.
Petrucci said he had identified two or three manufacturers that he considered approaching to build the system.
“Flex Pack was the most suitable to accommodate our needs, they specialise in these machines and handle these types of products all the time. We wanted it custom designed to suit our needs and with Flex Pack we could work together to design and build it to our specifications,” he said.
“Ultimately will get another machine. The number one priority was safety but we’re really pleased we have gained some efficiencies along with it.”