Powder Handling

Kockums develops additives system for gluten free Weet-bix

Kockums designed and supplied several sections of the minor component handling system for Sanitarium’s new gluten-free Weet-bix.

In an effort to provide for a more health-conscious populace, food producer Sanitarium has designed a gluten free version of its popular cereal ‘Weet-bix’. Bulk handling provider Kockums Bulk System was there to design and install the minor component handling system at the product’s new manufacturing facility.

Desire for gluten free food has increased in recent years, thanks to changing diet trends and a growing awareness of gluten intolerance. Sanitarium’s Weet-bix has long been a staple breakfast product in Australasian households, so to address this trend, a new Weet-bix product for those with gluten free needs was developed.

Sanitarium designed the alternative Weet-bix to include sorghum, a gluten free natural grain. The product also includes sunflower seeds and buds of puffed rice.

The first step in producing the product is the delivery of raw materials to Sanitarium’s facility. Seeds and buds arrive in bulk bags and sacks, and enter the system by a bulk bag discharger and a sacktip. Each product is moved by separate vacuum systems to holding hoppers, situated on an elevated platform.

The hoppers each present their product onto weigh-belt feeders below, which simultaneously discharge the products according to a programmed ratio, into a venturi eductor which conveys the combined ingredients into one of two downstream destinations.

Space for the equipment in the plant is limited, so a low footprint layout was designed for this holding hopper and weigh-belt feeder module, according to Kockums.

The 600 litre hoppers automatically refill when a low level signal is received. “Accuracy, rate of transfer and material degradation were critical items to Sanitarium,” said Kockums Bulk Systems chairman, Ivan Price. “The loss-in-weight process with belt feeders enabled a high level of precision and adjustment to be achieved from the feeders, and carefully configured conveying systems were gentle to these fragile ingredients.”

The bulk bag emptier supplied by Kockums is one of the latest generation range of Bulkaflo models called BBU2H, which incorporates a counterweight-balanced fill head and a bag closure device to assist in the bag opening process, while also allowing the removal of a partially emptied bag without spillage.

Price told ABHR the pre-project design engineering phase enabled a ‘fast track’ delivery when the project was finally approved to proceed.

“The system was fully built and assembled in the Kockums workshop in Melbourne, allowing for a Factory Assessment Test (FAT) on the complete system to be performed, as requested by the client,” explained Price. “This also resulted in an efficient and fast installation process at the client’s facility in WA.”

Kockums commissioned the system in August 2014.

Sanitarium said the system operated to the required specification, and the company was very pleased with the process and outcome. The gluten free product is now available to the public.

Contact: j.groves@kockumsbulk.com.au

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