Bulk bags or FIBC’s (flexible intermediate bulk containers) are an alternative to a one tonne pallet full of 20 kg paper bags. These bags are made of a woven polymer material, which is sewn into a cube form with inlet and outlet spouts on the top and bottom and lifting loops at the top corners. This equipment has been proven world wide to be instrumental in the safe handling of powders, granules and other materials used in almost every industry.
Most bakeries whether large or small, can receive raw ingredients including flour, grains, salt, improver etc in bulk bags. The health and safety of the operators and the environment were some of the key factors in the design and operation of this equipment.
The design of the Bulk Bag Systems from Fresco Systems Australasia, helps to dramatically prevent the many back and respiratory injuries occurring on a daily basis. The system facilitates safe transport of bulk materials across a factory or to the other side of the world without the need for operators to be exposed to hazardous dust or heavy lifting. The environment is also a clear winner with this system, as the need to harvest trees for manufacture of paper sacks and then the disposal of these in landfills, is also eliminated with the use of reusable and recyclable bulk bags.
Filling of the bulk bags is done on a Fresco bulk bag filler with the only operator input being placing the loops of the bulk bag onto the unloader frame and sliding the spout onto the filling head. Bulk bags ranging from 1cubic metre to 2 cubic metres in capacity are then filled by the push of a button, which starts the infeed conveyor, and dust collector. During filling the densification deck vibrates the bag to provide a tightly packed bag for safe transportation. A forklift can then safely transport and store the filled bag without the risk of individual bags falling onto the forklift driver or passers-by. This very simple operation completely protects the operator from handling or being exposed to filled 20 or 25kg bags of product at both ends of the process. The potential stacking problems of bags on pallets are also eliminated.
Transportation of bulk bags is much safer than having many smaller bags stacked on a pallet. The load is much more stable eliminating the risk of loose bags falling while being elevated. This eliminates the risk of the forklift driver being hit by falling bags or from being exposed to the contents of a broken bag as well as reducing the risk of spillage polluting the atmosphere and environment. The bulk bags can be easily loaded into trucks or shipping containers by the forklift without the need to manually re stack product to achieve optimum space usage. This in turn means the recipient can also unload the material without manual handling. Bulk bags can be easily and safely stacked.
Elevating the bulk bag onto a Fresco bulk bag unloader can be done utilizing a forklift or overhead monorail crane. The operator fixes the lifting frame at ground level and the bag is lifted into position resting the base of the bag on the bag massagers while still supporting the top of the bag. The massagers provide a safety barrier for the operator and gently massage the base of the bag to promote flow of the product assisting discharge. The operator then clamps the spout of the bag with our unique spout clamp prior to untying the spout of the bag in complete safety and control. The flow of product from the bulk bag can be controlled via the bag closer flow control valve. This also allows the operator to close a bag during discharge if only part of a bag is required. The fully enclosed dust tight design prevents hazardous dust exposure to the operator complying with OSH and EPA standards. The risk of foreign matter or objects including knives accidentally contaminating the product is also greatly reduced. The Bag Extenders lifts the bag to ensure all the product is discharged from the bulk bag prior to the operator lowering the bag to the ground and disconnecting it from the lifting frame. Connection to a dust collector allows the complete evacuation of air from the empty bulk bag prior to removal from the discharger frame so that the operator can roll the bulk bag up for recycling without bellowing dust and air into the atmosphere.
For example 1 operator can easily and safely discharge a 1 tonne bulk bag in 5 minutes with no manual lifting or risk of exposure to dust. Whereas for the operator to discharge the same amount in 20kg bags the operator must lift 50 bags and place them on a slitting ledge where they must use a knife to cut the paper bag before lifting it again to discharge the contents. This would be expected to take 20 – 25 minutes with the added risk of back injury, lacerations, dust exposure and product contamination. The operator must then collect the empty bags and place them in the waste, which normally has no dust control. These bags then end up in a landfill. The bulk bags on the other hand can be reused or recycled.
The Fresco bulk bag fillers and unloaders are fully engineered, independently tested and certified as lifting equipment. The reduced operator input clearly creates a safer and more cost efficient working environment for almost the same capital cost as simpler manual powder handling systems.
Discharging from the bulk bag unloader to the mixers can be via flexible conveyor, pneumatic conveying system or directly into the bowl. This can be done on a loss or gain in weight basis providing high accuracy. The system can be manual or fully integrated with a PLC recipe-batching programme all manufactured in house by Fresco.
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- June 2007 – Featured Article