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Doubling productivity with bulk bag dischargers

18 June 2018

Find out how a manufacturer of powdered extracts has succeeded in doubling its productivity. 

Prosur (Productos Sur) manufactures powdered extracts from Mediterranean fruit and spices including savoury food blends, natural flavours, and food products based on natural antioxidants and natural preservatives.

Traditionally, the company processed orders by transporting powders in 500 kg metal tote bins by pallet truck across the plant floor before it was gravity fed through butterfly valves into packaging machines.

Productivity at the plant has doubled – from 35 tonnes to 70 tonnes per day – since the company replaced this system with seven bulk bag dischargers, as part of an expansion project that increased Prosur’s factory space from 3,000 m² to 14,000 m² which has allowed the company to triple its packaging capacity, according to Francisco Hernández González, production engineer for the company.

Today, on the top floor of the new facility next to the mixers, seven Flexicon Bulk-Out model BFH-C-X half-frame bulk bag dischargers feed 70 tonnes per day to the packaging machines on the floor below. Bulk bags weighing 1,000 kg are filled with blended food ingredients directly from the mixers, before being loaded onto the bulk bag dischargers.

An electric hoist positioned over each discharger lifts the bag onto the half frame. The operator pulls the bag spout through a flow control valve, in which four elliptically contoured bars cinch the bag spout concentrically, enabling partially emptied bulk bags to be retied and removed.

A clamp ring creates a sealed connection between the clean side of the bag spout and the clean side of a telescoping tube, which raises the clamp ring for connection to the bag spout and then lowers, applying continual downward tension to promote flow. The bag spout interface devices contain dust.

Further promoting the flow of material are agitation devices on each discharger that raise and lower the edges of the bag. Stainless steel material contact surfaces finished to sanitary standards meet the company’s hygiene specifications.

More accurate and efficient
The process is said to be more accurate and efficient than the traditional solution. The dischargers are able to automatically empty the powders through a sealed chute into the packaging machines on the floor below. Through the plant’s central control system, high and low level sensors in the packaging machine hoppers send signals to open and close the flow control valves to accurately fill the hoppers.

Three bulk bag dischargers are dedicated for packaging large quantity orders, which require few product changeovers. The remaining four dischargers fill small batches that require frequent product changeovers. Commenting on the solution, González said: “Most of our production is exported. The bulk bag dischargers provide an efficient, automatic and simple way to transport the products from the blenders to the packaging machines, in a really short time.”

He concluded, “The bulk bag dischargers have met our expectations. Compared to previous methods of handling, the dischargers allow us to process the same quantity of product in half the time.” The packaging plant now operates for eight hours every day, five days per week.

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