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Bulk VFFS system bags potting mix

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A leading Victorian piggery which converts its effluent into electricity and garden fertiliser, has installed a state-of-the-art form-fill-seal system to bag the fertiliser, which is mainly sold as potting mix.

Jock Charles, of Charles IFE Pty Ltd, said the vertical form-fill-seal (VFFS) machine recently installed at his potting mix packaging facility just West of Ballarat, was fast, efficient and had made a world of difference to the operation.

The Charles family had been pioneers in the Windemere district of Victoria since their forebears migrated from Northern Ireland. More recently, the main enterprise at Berrybank Farm had been the piggery; established for more than 40 years ago, which had been remodelled and upgraded at different times into a modern, efficient and productive unit.

The company had always been environmentally conscious, Charles said, and all effluent from the piggery was converted into electricity which was sold into the power grid. The odourless garden fertilizer produced, was sold commercially through the company’s Garden Products division, now a key supplier of premium potting mixes and soil conditioners to garden centres and throughout Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

Kockums Bulk Systems were recently commissioned to supply Charles IFE with a form-fill-seal machine capable of filling in excess of 16 30-litre bags a minute.

A Kockums spokesman said the requirements were for a high speed, proven machine with the ability to reliably handle a variety of products such as a range of soils, potting mixes, peats, mulches and barks.

“The VFFS machine that Kockums supplied was fully automatic and had a number of novel features, some of which had been patented,” the spokesman said.

“The volumetric feeder is a standout. Its unique features ensure an accurate and reliable flow of all agricultural products. It is this unit that has placed Kockums amongst the leading suppliers to Europe’s agricultural industry,” he said.

Simple, yet well designed, and equipped with up-to-the-minute electronic control features, the rugged machine had proven itself in many hundreds of successful installations. High speed monitoring and control of heating and cooling cycles, “smart” energy saving features and techniques learned over many years of development, had led to the current design.

The Charles IFE system was fed via a simple transfer from an intake hopper, the incline controlled by level controls within the volumetric feeder.

The bags were filled, sealed, and fed to a bag rotator/flattener before automatic palletisation via a four-axis robotic palletising system.

Units were from Kockums’ extensive range, using the same well proven technology, from pack sizes from as low as 100ml up to 125 litres, and speeds up to 60 packs per minute.

Products fed so far included fertilisers, peats and composts, metallic and plastic components, chemicals, detergent, sawdust, vermiculite, ice, tobacco, salt, coffee, tea, seeds, sugar, pet food, pasta and kitty litter. Kockums Bulk Systems (03 9457 8200 ).

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