An automated bulk solids handling system from Flexicon is helping Multisorb Technologies Inc. increase productivity at its new European facility for producing silica gel granule adsorption packets. Sorbent packets eliminate moisture and oxygen in the final packaging of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics, aerospace and other products.
Flexicon’s automated multi-line bulk solids handling system simultaneously feeds four form/fill/seal machines. The PLC controlled system consists of a bulk bag discharger, four flexible screw conveyors, and four feed hoppers gravity discharging material simultaneously to the form/fill/seal machines.
Mechanical conveying was preferred over pneumatic conveying for gentle product handling to maintain particle size of 1-4 mm. The flexible screw conveyor’s self-centring stainless steel spiral rotates within a UHMWPe tube, providing clearance between the screw and tube wall for the silica gel particles to flow undamaged.
Granules arrive in 1-ton bulk bags, which are lined to prevent entry of moisture or oxygen that would affect the hygroscopic material. The entire conveying system is kept airtight for the same reason.
A forklift operator attaches the bulk bag to four Z-CLIP bag strap holders on a bag-lifting frame, manoeuvring the forklift to secure the frame on a 3.6m high discharger frame above the 225L capacity receiving hopper.
The bulk bag/hopper interface consists of a manual Spout-Lock clamp ring positioned above a pneumatically actuated Tele-Tube telescoping tube, which facilitates dust-tight connections between bag spout and hopper, and automatically elongates the bag as it empties to promote flow and evacuation.
The telescoping tube pneumatically raises the clamp ring assembly allowing connection to the bulk bag spout, sealing the clean side of the bag spout to the clean side of the telescoping tube. It then lowers until the bag spout is pulled taut. Once the spout is untied, the telescoping assembly exerts continual downward tension on the spout, elongating the bag as it empties. The dust-tight seal between bag spout and clamp ring allows full-open discharge from the bag with no dusting.
Material is drawn from the hopper by a 6m long, 80mm diameter flexible screw conveyor at a 45-degree angle to 4.4m height into the first of four 130L capacity feed hoppers. Three 4.5m long, 80mm diameter flexible screw conveyors connect the feed hoppers horizontally in series and each hopper gravity feeds material to an auger and form/fill/seal machine.
PLC control allows simultaneous filling of any combination of the four feed hoppers, dictating how much material fills a hopper by opening or closing a slide valve between the discharge of the flexible screw conveyor and hopper inlet. High and low level warning indicators on the hoppers and above each slide valve tell the control to stop or resume flow through the conveyors.
The Flexicon automated bulk solids handling system allows the installation of a parallel line of flexible screw conveyors to meet expanded production needs. The inlet on each of the four feed hoppers is offset so an additional flexible screw conveyor can discharge into a second inlet opposite the first.
The automated bulk solids handling system was designed, built and commissioned by Flexicon (Europe) Ltd, and is expandable for future market growth. The bulk handling system has been fulfilling production expectations and will allow higher productivity as the plant expands into different products for new markets.
In addition to flexible screw conveyors, Flexicon manufactures pneumatic conveyors, bulk bag unloaders, bulk bag fillers, manual dumping stations, drum dumpers, weigh batching and blending systems and plant-wide bulk handling systems with automated controls, all available in Australia through Flexicon Corporation (Australia) .