Monday 22nd Oct, 2018

Bulk bag filler boosts malt packing output

When a malt manufacturer in the UK needed a more efficient system to pack pale ale malt into 350 kg to 1,000 kg bulk bags, it found a solution from Flexicon.

Most of Thomas Fawcett & Sons’ malt was previously supplied in 25 tonne bulk lorry loads and 25 kg sacks. When the company first supplied malt in bulk bags, members of the malting staff transferred batches of malt from pre-weighed 50 kg sacks into bulk bags by wheeling the sacks on a sack truck on the upper floor and tipping them into a bulk bag held on a forklift truck on the floor below.

This was a three-person job: one filling sacks, one tipping sacks, and one operating the forklift truck.

Installation of a Flexicon TWIN-CENTERPOST Bulk Bag Filler and flexible screw conveyor in the packing room area has created a more flexible packing operation and saved operators from double handling of the malt.

Brian Hickman, Thomas Fawcett & Sons’ malting manager, says, “By installing the bulk bag filler, we save between six to eight hours of operator time each week”.

A bulk storage silo was fitted with a charging adapter for connection to a Flexicon horizontally oriented flexible screw conveyor 7.5 m long and 168 mm in diameter. From the conveyor’s discharge housing, malt flows through downspouting to the bulk bag filler inlet.


How bulk bags are now filled

The bulk bag filler is equipped with an adjustable fill head that can be raised or lowered to suit all popular bag heights, and secured in place with two quick-release pins. An oversized filling spout accommodates open-top bulk bags.

Mounted on load cells, the unit can weigh-fill 350 to 1,000 kg of malt into bulk bags. To fill a bag, the operator positions a 1200 x 1000 mm pallet on the filler deck and attaches the bag loops to each of four retractable bag hooks on the fill head.

The operator secures the bag inlet to the downspouting. The system’s PLC runs the flexible screw conveyor at a high feed rate, reducing the feed rate to trickle before stopping the conveyor when the accurate target weight has been loaded into the bag. The bag and pallet are removed by pallet jack.

“Individual customer orders are typically 24 one-tonne bulk bags of malt,” says Mr Hickman. “The system works well and we are pleased with the reliable operation it provides to our malting facility.

“The bulk bag filler and flexible screw conveyor operate separately from our 25 kg sack filling system, providing another advantage as we can now do both operations simultaneously, saving time and increasing production.

“We fill the bulk malt outload silo in the evening when the 25 kg sack line is not running, and then we can pack simultaneously during the day,” he said.