Agribusiness & Food

Concetti supplies packaging line for BEC Feed Solutions

As part of a major upgrade, BEC Feed Solutions purchased a Concetti packaging line. ABHR speaks with Mark Fitzgerald, general manager of premix and feed additives, to learn more.

As part of a major upgrade, BEC Feed Solutions purchased a Concetti packaging line. ABHR speaks with Mark Fitzgerald, general manager of premix and feed additives, to learn more.

In early 2020, BEC Feed Solutions began building its advanced manufacturing facility, a project that had been in the works for more than five years.

The project aimed to consolidate the company’s two sites in Carole Park, Queensland, and incorporate a new manufacturing plant, warehouse and adjoining two storey office building.

Mark Fitzgerald, BEC Feed Solutions’ general manager of premix and feed additives for Australia and New Zealand, travelled to Europe to speak with manufacturers that could provide an integrated packing line for the new facility.

“We wanted to include a high-quality, automated packing solution to match the manufacturing plant,” he said.

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“After visiting several installations and speaking to other major players in the market, we decided to go with Concetti.”

Concetti is an Italian manufacturer of automatic bagging systems, and according to Fitzgerald, are regarded as a global leader for packaging pre-mix. As discussions continued, Fitzgerald visited Italy twice to see the equipment and spoke to other Australian business who had installed Concetti’s packaging products.

One of the key prerequisites for the project was local support. BEC Feed Solutions wanted to ensure that there would be qualified support available in case of a breakdown.

Concetti has since partnered with Melbourne-based company Automaint, who handles the technical and maintenance support for the Italian company in Australia.

Another important factor was maintaining and improving product quality. Fitzgerald said the quality of the manufacturing process and final product is paramount in the feed industry.

“Maintaining quality is really important, and part of the challenge is related to reducing cross contamination between different products,” he said.

“There are some ingredients that may be fine for pigs but can’t be used for horses, for example. We needed to segregate and reduce the risk of contamination, which was the reason we wanted two manufacturing lines.”

Because the business uses two manufacturing lines, it only had space for one packaging line. The company decided to purchase an IGF 1200, which features two packing heads and can handle the two lines without cross contamination with selectable filling spouts.

The packing line automatically cleans the packing head and provides easy access to the filling auger. This makes the plant easy to clean, significantly reducing the risk of cross contamination.

Fitzgerald said that previously to installing the IGF GEMINI, around 80 per cent of the packaging process was performed manually. Now, the process is semi-automated, requiring no human intervention to weigh, fill, stitch, or palletise the bags.

“The only point where physical intervention is required is loading the machine,” he said.

“The machine can also handle the wide range of products we produce, which all vary significantly in bulk density, weight and pack size.

“It can easily go from a six kg bag to a 25kg one – there isn’t many plants that can handle that amount of versatility.”

One of the challenges that arose during the project was the COVID-19 pandemic, and the numerous border lockdowns. In early 2020, Italy had been hit hard by the coronavirus. The original plan of sending technicians from Italy to Queensland had to be altered, and BEC Feed Solutions staff could not travel to the factory for training and testing.

Instead, under remote instruction from Concetti staff, Automaint and a Brisbane-based engineering company installed and commissioned the plant.

Fitzgerald said the lockdown was difficult for the entire industry, and Concetti has now been able to send its technicians to the site for further fine-tuning and training.

“It’s hard to train people remotely, and we knew that the conditions weren’t going to be optimal,” he said.

“However, since the visit from the technicians, we have been really pleased with how the plant has been running.

“Our staff were also able to learn more from the training they provided and are now able to use some of the more advanced knowledge to improve the process.”

The palletisation of the final product has significantly improved thanks to the 4Column palletiser. The quality and appearance of packaging is important for BEC Feed Solution’s customers and has eliminated the risks that come with hand stacking pallets.

Fitzgerald said the relationship between the two companies has remained strong, with BEC Feed Solutions now becoming a reference for other potential Concetti customers in Australia and New Zealand.

“We’ve had people from the stockfeed, cement, sand and salt industries inspect the packing line,” he said.

“We’re really happy to be a reference point and have that connection with the industry. The opportunities for growth with Concetti can only be a good thing for us and we’re excited to be working with global leaders in the sector.” 

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