A Block-Buster bulk bag conditioner manufactured by Flexicon (Europe) Ltd. of Herne Bay, Kent, UK enabled personal products manufacturer, Fillcare to resolve its material flow problems.
Unable to discharge a waxy, non-flowing material from bulk bags, Fillcare Ltd., of Pontyclun, UK installed a Flexicon bulk bag conditioner to end the blockage problems and the consequent production downtime.
A subsidiary of France's Fareva, Fillcare is a formulator and packager of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food and home care products. Its Pontyclun plant is a third-party manufacturer of shampoos, hair conditioners and skincare products.
The company had installed a bulk handling system consisting of a bulk bag discharger with a pneumatic vacuum system to transfer materials to a mixer. The semi-automated system promised to reduce raw material and labour costs while improving quality.
But a fatty alcohol in the form of wax flakes could not be discharged consistently from the bulk bags in which it was received. The flakes have a minimum angle of repose of 60 degrees, and soften at room temperature, forming clumps.
During shipping and storage in bulk bags, they also pack, cake and solidify preventing pneumatic flow promotion devices integral to Fillcare's bulk bag discharger from loosening the material as well as allowing it to flow consistently through the bulk bag spout into a surge hopper.
Additionally, the material would not flow consistently into the hopper and rotary airlock valve, and into the pneumatic conveyor. Consequently, workers were frequently required to stop production in order to manually dislodge blockages at the bag discharge spout.
Fillcare solved its material flow problem by installing a Flexicon Block-Buster bulk bag conditioner consisting of a robust, freestanding frame equipped with two hydraulic rams, and a platform that rises, lowers and rotates.
The bulk bag conditioner is equipped with a four-sided safety cage with interlocks preventing operation when the doors are open. The system controller and hydraulic pump, mounted on the exterior of the safety cage require a single electrical connection for operation.
When the process calls for a bulk bag containing the waxy ingredient, plant personnel forklift it onto the platform of the bulk bag conditioner. The bulk bag is raised hydraulically to a user-selected height before contoured conditioning plates on the hydraulic rams press opposing sides of the bag, loosening the material.
The turntable then rotates 90 degrees allowing the rams to press the adjacent sides of the bag. The controller enables operators to set ram pressure, number of pressing cycles, turntable height, and the number of 90-degree rotations to ensure that all bag contents are sufficiently loosened to flow freely from the bag.
Conditioned bulk bags are transferred from the bulk bag conditioner for loading into the bulk bag discharger. The fully conditioned waxy material allows the pneumatic flow promotion devices of the bulk bag discharger to perform effectively.
Material is directed through the bag spout for complete discharge from the bag, while ensuring the flow of material into the conveyor inlet, with little or no manual intervention.
The bulk bag conditioners are available in Australia from Flexicon Corporation (Australia) .